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San Diego MTS Working To Restore Vintage Trolley Car For Silver Line Service

San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System is bringing back a bit of history to celebrate San Diego’s past.

San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System is bringing back a bit of history to celebrate San Diego’s past.

The agency is partnering with San Diego Gas & Electric to restore a vintage trolley car for service on the Silver Line, which loops around downtown.

Streetcars were common in San Diego during the 1930s and ‘40s. Harry Mathis, chairman of MTS, said some people were skeptical at first of the restoration plan.

“When we first started this, someone said 'Isn't your constituency for these types of cars dying out?’, and I said ‘On the contrary.’ The young people are the ones who are going to be most interested, because they want to see what it was like in those days to ride transit," Mathis said.

MTS has operated one vintage trolley car on a limited basis on the Silver Line since 2011. The new car was shipped from Pennsylvania and dates back to 1946. It was acquired as part of a trade in exchange for two of San Diego’s decommissioned trolleys.

Mathis said the additional car will allow for regular service on the Silver Line.

“That’s why this second car is so important, because it will allow us to run regular service and that will appear on our routes and brochures as a guaranteed public service,” Mathis said.

The restoration of the new trolley car is expected to take about eight months. It will be named “Centennial,” in honor of next year’s 100th anniversary of the Panama Exposition in Balboa Park.

The renovation is being funded by a $50,000 grant from San Diego Gas & Electric. When complete near the end of this year, the interior will display SDG&E photos showing the history of electrically powered transportation in the city.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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