Memphis — Return Date Not Set
The head of the Memphis Area Transit Authority [MATA], Ron Garrison, is not willing yet to give a specific date for a revival of tourist streetcar service in the Tennessee city, the memphisflyer.com site reports. The three car lines were suspended in June 2014 after two fires within six months destroyed two ex-Melbourne, Australia, "W" Class trams. Street railway experts from the American Public Transportation Association Streetcar Committee were invited to survey the system and found problems with management and maintenance practices. So far, only two trolleys have been rehabilitated.
"It's all about telling the truth," Garrison said at a trolley update meeting in June at Leadership Memphis. "It's not easy work. There's no way to do it any faster while doing it safely. Everything we're doing will make it so that we are the standard for the rest of the country. That's the standard the Federal Transit Administration is holding us to, and that's a very good thing. When you get on the trolleys, you'll be safe."
Garrison's hesitance to set a start date is in part due to 181 documents that MATA must produce throughout the rehabilitation process. So far, 96 documents have been submitted, but only about 15 are completed.
"They have to go through a certified ... national railroad consulting firm, which we don't have but need to get," Garrison said. "Then it goes to FTA, their consultants, and their engineers. Then it goes to the Tennessee Department of Transportation, their consultants, and their engineers. Then it has to go through FTA Safety in Washington D.C., their staff, and their two consultants ... Then we have to do it again, it goes out again, it comes back to us again, and we have to finalize it through a safety certification committee."
The goal of the current work is to have a fleet of 11 certified streetcars available for service.
Much of the rehab workwill be done in-house, Garrison said. The trolleys will receive outward-facing doors, new pantographs that will reduce the risk of fires, fireproof insulation, and a safer, low-voltage wiring system. Memphis will be the first in the country to move their entire system to low-voltage wiring, Garrison said. MATA sent eight trucks to be rebuilt off-site, each costing about $47,000.