City Presents First Streetcar
Streetcar arrives and runs on city streets for the first time in 60 years.
The Milwaukee Streetcar is on time and on budget.
That was the pronouncement from a smiling Mayor Tom Barrett as he watched the delivery of the first of five vehicles for the city’s new, $128 million streetcar system. The delivery marks a major milestone for the long-debated project, now known as The Hop presented by Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, that is scheduled to begin operating later this year.
Barrett and a number of city officials, media members and interested citizens stood at the intersection of W. St. Paul Ave. and N. 4th St. as a crew from Silk Road Transport and vehicle manufacturer Brookville Equipment Corp. slid the streetcar off an oversized semi-trailer and onto the city’s newly installed streetcar tracks. Using the vehicle’s battery, it was driven onto the tracks in the middle of W. St. Paul Ave., marking the first time since March 1958 that a streetcar has operated on a city street. From there, the crew guided the vehicle a few short blocks west to the end of the line at the newly-constructed Operations and Maintenence Facility underneath Interstate 794.
The delivery of the vehicle, which left Pennsylvania Friday afternoon, also marks the first time the public has been able to see the system’s final branding. The vehicles, which weigh 40 tons and are 66-feet long, have been painted a mix of black, white, gold and blue. The cars are expected to last 30 years.
Before the public can ride The Hop, Transdev needs to hire operators, technicians and other system employees, and complete a federally-mandated 1,000 kilometers of testing throughout the route.
The system is expected to begin operating in late 2018. The lakefront line expansion is scheduled to begin service in late 2019. Rides for the first year will be covered by Potawatomi as part of the casino’s $10-million, 12-year sponsorship deal.
Project proponent Alderman Robert Bauman told the large group of media members in attendance that the city anticipates receiving a vehicle roughly every month until all five have been delivered. Barrett said that he looks forward to the final product winning over many project opponents.
The delivery, which attracted a helicopter from TMJ4 following the vehicle as it made its way from Beloit to Milwaukee via Interstate 43, drew over 100 attendees, including Milwaukee County Supervisor Jason Haas.
Pennsylvania-based Brookville has supplied streetcars for a number of other streetcar systems including the new lines in Detroit, Dallas and Oklahoma City, as well as expansions in Portland and Seattle.
A public unveiling of the vehicle, cleaned up and ready for testing on city streets, is being organized for April. Notable missing parts of the vehicle today are the pantograph, which connects the vehicle to the overhead wire system and a “skirt,” which covers the lowest level of the vehicle.
Entering Maintenance Facility
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For more project details, including the project timeline, financing, route and possible extensions, see our extensive past coverage.
- Transportation: First Streetcar Smart Kiosks Installed - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 3rd, 2021
- Plats and Parcels: Lakefront Streetcar Extension Scheduled for June 2022 Opening - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 6th, 2020
- Transportation: Should Milwaukee Stop The Hop? - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 13th, 2020
- Transportation: The Hop Now Wears a Mask - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 18th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Is A Couture Deal Finally Coming? - Jeramey Jannene - May 13th, 2020
- Transportation: SUV Driver Runs Into The Hop - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 28th, 2020
- Transportation: Streetcar Kiosks Could Bring In $500,000 Annually - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 20th, 2020
- Thanks A Million, Hop Riders! - The Hop - Feb 19th, 2020
- Transportation: We Energies Will Sponsor Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 10th, 2020
- Transportation: Streetcar Ridership Up in January Versus 2019 - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 7th, 2020
Read more about Milwaukee Streetcar here