Centennial Car 530, a 68-year-old PCC-style trolley used in Minnesota and New Jersey, was completely restored over three years and painted in the San Diego transit system’s original green, yellow and brown color scheme.
“It’s been around. We’d like this to be its permanent home,” said MTS Chairman Harry Mathis at a ceremony at the 12th & Imperial Transit Center.
The car joins another PCC, number 529, that began service on the downtown Silver Line in 2011. The two restored trolleys will run every 30 minutes on the 2.7 mile loop on Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends. Having a second car is expected to ensure more reliable service.
The new car honors the Balboa Park Centennial, and is lined with historic photos where advertising posters once appeared.
SDG&E donated the funds to restore the classic streetcar, and Jim Avery, senior vice president of power and clean transportation, said the project is rich in symbolism as San Diegans increasingly turn to electric vehicles.
“For well over a century, SDG&E has been powering the original San Diego zero emissions vehicle — the San Diego Trolley,” he said. “The Balboa Park Centennial trolley reminds us all of that great tradition, one that we continue to build on as more and more of us use clean transportation in our daily lives.”
PCC cars were used in San Diego from 1936 to 1949, “carrying the heavy load during World War II,” Mathis said. He noted that San Diego was the first West Coast city to buy a PCC car, which was innovative in its day.
“People stop and stare at the Silver Line when it’s going by,” said City Counilmember Todd Gloria, who thanked SDG&E for its help with the restoration.
After a ribbon-cutting ceremony, dignitaries and school children boarded the trolley for its first public trip on the Silver Line. “It’s got that new trolley smell,” noted Pedro Villegas, an SDG&E community relations director.
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