Can this be true?

David K over at Refuse the Juice wrote this in a recent blog post:

“Streetcar” update… A friend reached out to tell me they were in El Paso last week and road the trolley.  She mentioned something about a baseball derailing a care recently, but was otherwise happy with her ride.  She had to take an Uber back to her hotel, though.  The whole thing struck me as funny.

We deserve better


18 Responses to Can this be true?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I assume the writer meant “rode” the trolley and derailed a “car”.

    The trolleys were originally suggested by Beto O’Rourke, presumably as a means to increase the value of his father-in-law’s downtown property at taxpayer’s expense. Afterwards, never to let a bad idea go to waste, the idea was refined to serve the baseball stadium.

    What is the point of the trolley? What public sector or need do they serve? To shuttle baseball fans to-and-from cheaper parking? To take people from the Doubletree to the bars on Cincinnati?

    I don’t see tourists flying or driving into El Paso to ride the trolley or watch minor league games. I also imagine that taking people on drinking excursions is a good way to get sued, and the taxpayers will be the ones paying the price.


  2. Anonymous says:

    The news covered it. Amazing when two fiscally irresponsible projects find a way to cost even more together.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Embarrassing says:

    The city is now spending thousands of dollars to advertise the streetcars in hopes of increasing ridership. You can ride for free all summer through Labor Day. They are also promoting school field trips and spending money to provide on-board entertainment. The streetcar project is an embarrassment.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anonymous says:

    Eventually they will use Uber to tow this multi-million$$$ POLITICAL boondoggle “Project” back to the junk yard. Just another useless, costly , unnecessary “deal” on the backs of El Taxo taxpayers. Just more tax, waste, spend, tax, waste more by the Clown Council..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Old Fart says:

    There were some other people besides Beto pushing this damn thing, and one of them was the guy that ran against Lesser for mayor and lost. Strange, but he never mentioned the street cars in his campaign material. In addition, the city’s two newspapers, who like to tout ‘that government works best in the sun light,’ also were pushing this damn thing.

    This thing was done behind the scenes without open, public debate and input.

    I must at least say that crusty, cranky INC reporter David Crowder, did a very good story about that ‘so called’ input card survey, where a number of cards had the same hand writing.

    The $100 million that went on that damn trolley project, could have been used to take the road toll off that new, now under construction Border Highway West.

    It will be interesting to see if drivers start ‘raising hell’ over a road that could have been free! If Brutus wants something to report on, this is a ready made story.


    • Brutus says:

      The money to build the trolley came from the State of Texas.

      Operational costs are the responsibility of the city.

      The money to build the trolley was not under the control of the city. If they wanted the money to be used for something else they would have had to get the Texas Transportation Commission to agree.



      • Fed Up says:

        The construction money came from the state. That was a one time cost. We will be stuck with the ongoing, recurring cost for years. We would have been better off not taking money to build this project. Free money is rarely free.


        • Old Fart says:

          “FED UP’ you are correct that the money came from the state, plus it was not ‘rail restricted’ money, until it was tagged for this El Paso street car project. Therefore, if the community had a real voice in that funding decision, other more vital transportation projects could have been considered.

          At that time the city had already decided to create 4 Bus Rapid Transit Routes. The Mesa BRT was nearing completion, if it had not already become operational. The Alameda route was in planning, with routes for Dyer and Montana to follow in a phased, timely manner. Therefore, some people reasonably believed transit was being addressed and there was no pressing need for this limited area trolley.

          The way I see it, there was a $100 million FUNDING OPPORTUNITY that deserved a much, much wider public discussion and debate. As BRUTES famously says: “We deserve better.”

          From transit journals I’ve examined, found that ‘rider fares’ generally cover only around 30 percent of a transit system’s ‘operating and maintenance cost.’ For 2 or 3 years this street car system will receive Fed funding to help cover the system’s operating cost. Therefore, I suspect some of this Fed money is what is being used to cover these free rides, to see if ridership can be kept up and sustained.

          The question after that time period is, will the trolley take hold in El Paso, or over time will it become a ‘white elephant?’ Possibly in 10 years plus years some will say it was a visionary project.

          As you can see from posts on Brutus’s blog, a number of posters have reasonable reservations over this large expenditure of vital transportation funding, a concerns which certainly seems justified.


          • The City Just Keeps on Spending says:

            The information between the dollar signs was pulled from what Sun Metro told one media outlet last year.


            The city anticipates it will cost about $2.5 million a year to operate the system.

            Banasiak said Sun Metro will use about four funding sources to cover the cost, although the estimates are preliminary.

            The fare box revenues are expected to bring in about $400,000 in the first year, which translates to about 600,000 riders.

            The streetcar also will replace one of two Downtown bus routes, which will shift about $460,000 for operating costs.

            The city also will receive as much as $2 million from a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program grant over the next two years, Banasiak said.

            “The rest will be made up with sales tax,” Banasiak said. “We will live within those means.”


            Back to the real world ……..The federal operating subsidy is for only two years and they clearly are coming up short on fare box revenues, so the question is how much are we having to subsidize the street car operation. The quote about making up any shortfall with sales tax revenue is humorous because it is followed by a comment about living within their means. The two downtown bus routes have apparently not been eliminated because I saw a recent budget that included free downtown circulator buses.


      • Technically, the money could have been used to do a host of other things, but our cuty wanted jewelry rather than practicality.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Streetcar Conductor says:

      One of the current members of city council also played a big role in promoting the street car project. He loved taking credit for single-handedly bringing back the street cars. He is not so quick to take credit these days.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Old Fart says:

        “Streetcar Conductor:” you are correct and that person, along with some others behind the scenes, are pushing to expand the streetcar route from the downtown area eastward to the Medical Center of the America.

        You might call the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization office, or ask your city representative, if that project is still in that organization’s long range transportation plan.

        ‘Thank you’ for being alert and providing your ‘warning post.’

        Liked by 1 person

        • Old Fart says:

          ‘THE CITY JUST KEEPS ON SPENDING:’ thanks for your important reminder earlier reference that sales tax comment, specially “The rest will be made up with sales tax,” Banasiak said.”


  6. Anonymous says:

    San Francisco pays out millions of dollars related to cable car accidents.


  7. JerryK says:

    The trolleys are very graceful and bring back memories of a bygone era, when America was great. That and $2 will get you a tall Pike at Starbucks.


  8. sunset says:

    Actually the request for a streetcar corridor were genuine signatures and not duplicates….anyone who read crowders article would understand that fact …. assuming the readers of this blog read articles as opposed to just griping and complaining about everything under the sun.

    “The No.-1 item that appears in identical language on 1,317 comment cards is for a “streetcar corridor between UTEP & Downtown.”

    The article points out the duplicates in comment cards for other projects.

    “El Paso Inc. publishes expose on the Quality of Life Bond Surveys that the city used in the Spring of 2012. Stating that the overwhelming of surveys they received were for a ballpark in Downtown El Paso, the Inc. discovers that 500 of these ballots were fraudulent. 1000 ballots were for a ballpark and 500 of them were found to fraudulent. Evidence shows the department under Deborah Hamlyn former Asst. City Manager now consultant for El Paso Tomorrow PAC, the organization supporting the ballpark, decided to disregard the fraud. Crowder, David, “Stadium Tainted,” El Paso Inc., Sept. 16, 2012.”


    • Old Fart says:

      “SUNSET:” thank you for that newspaper reference. Anyone interested in digging into the history of this streetcar project, can use that date as a reference point, to begin their newspaper and media research. Using that date, they can also submit Texas Open Records requests to the city and MTPO to get more detail.


  9. Rich Wright says:

    Public transportation in El Paso won’t be popular till gas hits seven bucks a gallon.

    Liked by 1 person

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