Memphis — Federal Funding to Resume Service
Progressive Railroading reports that Memphis will receive $2.6 million in Federal funds to purchase three new heritage trolleys to restore service on the city’s streetcar system. The funding is being distributed through the U. S. Department of Transportation’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement program. The Tennessee Department of Transportation selected MATA to receive the money. Service has been suspended on the network since June 2014 after a series of fires that destroyed two ex-Melbourne W-2 streetcars forced closure and reevaluation of the system.
In an editorial responding favorably to the funding award, the Memphis Commercial Appeal urged prompt restoration of streetcar service stating “The vintage historic trolleys, which are still depicted on some tourism promotional material, have been sorely missed by Downtown residents and business owners, especially those in the South Main District, after being taken offline in June 2014.”
The editorial went on to say “Last month, the MATA board approved the purchase of one trolley, which costs around $1 million. MATA replaced the trolleys with green buses that, frankly, just seemed out of place. MATA then purchased rubber-wheel trolley reproductions, which definitely are better than the buses. However, the rubber-wheel trolleys just do not have the same cachet as the vintage rail trolleys.… The trolleys were the lifeblood of the growing number of restaurants and shops that now populate the Main Street Mall and the South Main District in terms of patrons and tourists…. trolleys are one of the things that make Memphis special.”