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A large crowd gathered this morning outside the Metropolitan Transit System’s downtown headquarters to celebrate the launch of its new Silver Line, a loop route around the city’s core. The special weekend/holiday route will be the fourth in addition to existing Blue, Orange, and Green lines, and will feature the use of historic Presidents Class Cars.

The vintage trolleys were produced from 1936-1952. San Diego was the first West Coast city to adopt the trolleys, purchasing 28 of them (numbered 501-528) for use in San Diego until 1949, when the city elected to end its streetcar routes and focus instead on bus service. PCC 529, the first in a fleet of six cars to be restored, made its maiden voyages around the city today, shuttling politicians, press, and volunteers who worked on the restoration project along the course of the new route.

Harry Mathis, Chair of MTS and San Diego Vintage Trolley, gave remarks at the inaugural ceremony, crediting many volunteers who’ve donated time and money for the restoration of the old streetcars, originally found in 2003 near Lake Tahoe, where a local had failed in his bid to install a trolley service. Some volunteers were credited with spending over 1,000 hours for the benefit of Vintage Trolley, with 11,600 hours required just for the restoration of car 529.

“This is really a gift to the people, to remind them of their public heritage,” said Mathis of the group’s work.

After a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring Eddie Herold, 92, signaling the train to burst through a banner and enter the station, local dignitaries began loading for the first ride, serenaded by a trio of a capella singers in uniforms reminiscent of those formerly worn by transit personnel. Herold was at the controls when the last original San Diego PCC car rolled into the depot after its final run.

Pictured: singing performers, passengers boarding for the inaugural ride, MTS-supplied photo of restored trolley Image Image Image

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