Memphis — Service Not Returning Soon
The three-route heritage streetcar system at Memphis, idled after two fires within six months destroyed two vintage ex-Melbourne "W" class trams, won't be returning to service anytime soon, The Daily News of Memphis reports. Memphis Area Transit Authority [MATA] chief Ron Garrison says the system may restart sometime this year in 2015 with leased cars. An American Public Transportation Association [APTA] peer review, drawing from experts on the streetcar subcommittee, evaluated the system. "The review also concluded that most of the vintage trolley cars bought in the early 1990s from Portugal and Australia were at the end of their useful lives, even taking into account their restoration upon their arrival in Memphis."
Garrison explained the possibility that two to three trolleys might be cleared to run on a limited schedule on the Main Street Mall in May or June. He said the trolley system is “starting all over from scratch” and won’t be operational any time soon.
Garrison listed a daunting set of federal and state regulatory agencies including the Federal Transit Administration and the Tennessee Department of Transportation who must give their approval for the trolley system to resume running as well as consultants the transit authority is working with.
Businesses along the trolley lines report much lower foot traffic in the area since streetcar service was suspended.