A short history of Tucson public transportation.
In this video, recorded before the Old Pueblo Trolley was discontinued to make way for construction of the Modern Streetcar route, the conductor is Dick Guthrie, one of Tucson’s true visionaries and a driving force behind the public effort to secure a light-rail system for the Old Pueblo.
Two years after Tucson became an incorporated city, entrepreneur Bill Morgan established a “herdic” service. The herdic is a closed body, horse-drawn carriage on rails that runs from Downtown north to Nine Mile Water Hole along the Canada de Oro wash.
Southern Pacific Railroad arrives at Tucson, and the herdic service is re-routed to serve the new train depot on Toole Avenue.
The City’s first mule-drawn street railway, Tucson Street Railway, begins service from Downtown to the University. This is 14 years before Tucson’s main thoroughfare, Congress Street, is paved.
1900 – 1904
The Tucson Street Railway has expanded north of the University and south of Downtown to Elysian Grove, a 25-acre park with large floral displays, an amusement park, and a man-made lake.
Tucson Street Railway has more than 8 miles of track, 7 streetcars, and 34 head of livestock (mules and horses to pull the carriages). Scheduling is often unreliable as the whole system depends on unreliable animals.
Tucson Street Railway becomes Tucson Rapid Transit Company. Heavier rails are laid and electric wiring installed above the streets. With 5 streetcars, Tucson enters the modern era of electric streetcars.
Tucson has 9 streetcars, each capable of carrying 20-30 riders.
Tucson has 12 streetcars and adds buses to its urban transportation mix. Fifteen-minute service is maintained throughout most of the service area.
By a narrow margin, Tucson City Council votes to discontinue streetcar service. On December 31, 1930, Tucson’s modern streetcar era ends … until …
More than a half-century after Tucson discontinued streetcar operations, a small but dedicated group formed what would become “Old Pueblo Trolley, a non-profit, operating transit museum for the purpose of education and preservation of public transportation history in Tucson and Arizona.”
Old Pueblo Trolley runs from 9th Street and 4th Avenue to Main Gate Square on Friday nights and weekends.
Old Pueblo Trolley suspends operation to make way for the construction of the next generation Modern Streetcar route
July 25, 2014
More than eighty years after Tucson’s original modern streetcar discontinued service, the new, voter-approved, $200MM modern streetcar is carrying passengers along a 4-mile route from the Mercado west of the freeway through Downtown and 4th Avenue to University Medical Center. Some hold out hope that the Old Pueblo Trolley will again ride the rails as an operating historical transportation museum.