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El Paso City Rep. Wants To Bring Back Streetcars

To prepare El Paso’s transportation network for the future, one city representative wants to turn to the past.

Rep. Steve Ortega is exploring different rail options for El Paso, one of which is bringing back streetcars.

“It’s not really as much a transportation initiative as it is an economic development initiative,” he said. “If these things are done correctly, they do a great job spurring development and investment.”

The plan, which experts are currently analyzing, would connect El Paso’s two most dense spots – spanning two miles from the bridge area to UTEP.

Ortega thinks laying down that stretch of track would cost about 12 million dollars.

Right now a private team, studying development opportunity of the bridge areas in El Paso, is looking at whether the plan makes economic sense.

“If it doesn’t make economic sense, we’re not going to do it,” Ortega said.

Bridge study consultants will consider how much money different types of rail would cost, and how much money each would generate.

Bringing the old streetcars cars back into operation is one of many options.

“There’s an appeal rail brings that buses simply don’t,” Ortega said.

While an online El Paso Times poll showed strong public support for the plan, public transportation riders told us they like the bus.

“It’s clean. It’s fast. I don’t want any different thing,” said bus rider Jose Luis Reyes.

Bus rider Robert Sanchez agreed. “We don’t need a route like (the one proposed),” he said. “The bus does fine.”

The consultants are expected to complete their study by the end of the year.

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