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First streetcar put to test before hitting the tracks

Picture of the restoration of El Paso’s streetcars (Credit: City of El Paso)

Before the first streetcar hits the open road in the Borderland, there's work to be done.

“Every one has to be checked out and certified that it's built to spec before we get it,” Jay Banasiak said.

Banasiak is the Sun Metro director. He said the first streetcar has to pass a rigorous safety test.

“That one has to operate 200 miles without any issues,” Banasiak said. “No light bulbs going out, no hesitation from the engines or the electricity. Everything has to be working properly for 200 miles continuous.”

Changes are then made to all the streetcars before the next five are put to a similar test.

“And they have a 50-mile test to go,” Banasiak said. “Because the prototype is the one, that's the one that's going to have most of the issues.”

After that, the vintage vehicle hits the tracks with many modern amenities.

“It's an authentic car but we've added some things to it that we think make it more modern,” Banasiak said.

Wi-Fi, air conditioning, LED boards and accessibility for disabled riders are among those modern upgrades.

Some El Pasoans said they can't wait to see the streetcars on the road again.

“It's going to be really beautiful for people to enjoy,” Berta Rios said. “And for older people like myself who can remember the original.”

The first streetcar is expected to arrive to El Paso in a few weeks.

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