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City of El Paso to discuss "operating schedule " for streetcar

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The El Paso City Council could be making a big change to the streetcar schedule.

An item was placed on the council's agenda to: "direct the City manager to adjust the operating schedule of the streetcar to be event-driven for optimal use."

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Former city council member Peter Svarzbein said the hours should go up across the board.

“Because right now with the hours that we are, we are still building back from covid and we are having challenges in serving more of our populations," said Svarzbein.

Svarzbein said the trolly was never about ridership alone, but also a tool to help boost development in the city.

“Since the streetcar opened up in 2018, five new hotels have come along all within 1,00 feet of a streetcar stop. These are all projects that came along in an ecosystem that’s fueled and supported by having an active streetcar”

“The idea is to bring life back to the city of el paso," said Carl Jackson, director of streetcar services for the City of El Paso.

Jackson said there are certain operating requirements that need to be followed in order to operate the streetcar.

“You have to have operators that are available to maintain their proficiency level through the required number of hours," said Jackson.

Jackson said if the city reduces the hours, it could cause some issues.

“It becomes a problem for them to remember certain to find out when is it running, how often is it running? If it’s not running the whole time, can I take it and how do I get home”

KFOX14 reached out to the Mayor and all city council members to comment on the item.

Representative Chris Canales shared the following statement:

"The Streetcar has become very important to our community and to my district in particular, providing accessible, reliable, and enjoyable transportation to residents and visitors alike, serving 65,400 riders in 2022 and on track to serve more than 77,000 riders in 2023. The proposed change would have significant consequences that we can’t afford to overlook, including leaving prominent gaps in transit service in the Downtown and Uptown areas because the Streetcar lines replaced multiple bus routes. This change would also disproportionately impact lower-income residents and students who use the Streetcar as a free transportation option to get to and from shopping, school, medical appointments, etc. and would be harmful to the small businesses that have opened along the Streetcar route under the assumption that they would have regular traffic driven by fixed-rail transit. While this may seem like a minor change to some, the potential consequences of this decision are significant and far-reaching, and I plan to justify why I think so in our discussion during the City Council meeting."

Representatives Isabel Salcido provided the following comment: “It’s always good practice to review all services provided to ensure they are being used to their maximum potential and to the benefit of the public. I am looking forward to the discussion we will be having on Tuesday as council on this item.”

Meanwhile, some riders tell KFOX14/CBS4 they will be saddened if the hours are reduced.

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”I’d rather pay for them to have it all the time," said Ursula Breckinridge

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