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U.S. Streetcar Systems- California


Sacramento 35 capitol a sm.JPG (182823 bytes)

Riverfront Streetcar

Began Operation: in planning

Route Miles: *  

Stops:  *

Org: Transit Agency + Non-Profit  

Schedule: *

John Smatlak photo, click to enlarge

In 1999, Sacramento Regional Transit purchased a beautifully restored trolley (PG&E 35) from the California Trolley & Railroad Corporation in San Jose. The car had been completely rebuilt in the late1980s as part of group of seven immaculately restored trolleys for operation in San Jose. Car 35 is operated on special occasions over a portion of the Light Rail system in the downtown area.  Car 35 had returned to Sacramento once before, in 1991, coinciding with RailFair at the California State Railroad Museum. 

Interest in establishing a permanent streetcar circulator system in California's capitol city has been steadily building in recent years. The non-profit "Friends of Light Rail and Transit" group has been providing research and technical assistance as part of its mission to "promote community dialogue regarding pedestrian-friendly land use planning around light rail stations, expansion of Sacramento's light rail and bus transit system, and reintroduction of historic trolley service".

In 2006-7, the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento combined to carry out a streetcar feasibility study for a 2.2 mile route that would link the two cities. Building on the feasibility study, the two cities are now working on a detailed environmental analysis and additional community involvement. Full details are available on the Riverfront Streetcar website.



Car 35 7th St sm.JPG (131046 bytes) 

Car 35 Hotel Berry sm.JPG (115246 bytes) 

Car 35 en route sm.JPG (128352 bytes)

Car 35 side view sm.JPG (134241 bytes)

Car 35 in operation during the Capitol Area Streetcar Summit, September 2005
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Car 35 in operation during the Capitol Area Streetcar Summit, September 2005 Light Rail along the Downtown transit mall
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 Like streetcar, Light Rail can also be very flexible. These views illustrate street running approaching the Downtown area. Tracks are placed to one side of the street, one in an exclusive lane, one in a shared lane with other traffic.  

Light Rail alignments must sometimes squeeze into tight spaces in urban areas.

The latest extension brings Light Rail within sight of the historic Southern Pacific  Sacramento Shops complex.

Rail Yards extension 2 sm .jpg (110007 bytes) Rail Yards extension 1 sm.jpg (120966 bytes) Sacramento track slab 1 sm.jpg (191999 bytes) Sacramento track slab 2 sm.jpg (156728 bytes)

Construction views of the Green Line extension adjacent to the Railyards project, Summer 2011. Portions of the former Southern Pacific shops complex are to be developed as an expansion of the adjacent California State Railroad Museum.

Track slab construction details. Sacramento provides an example of a system which does not use girder rail for embedded track, using instead a formed concrete flangeway, with a restraining rail installed on the inside rail in curves.
John Smatlak photos

News / Updates  

November 2011- An article on provides an update on planning for the Sacramento streetcar.

July 2010- West Sacramento did not receive the $25M in funding they had sought through the federal Urban Circulator grant program, but city officials say they will still continue their efforts to develop a streetcar line connecting Sacramento and West Sacramento. Full details are available in this Sacramento Bee article. The FTA website has a complete list of cities receiving grants under the Urban Circulator program.

November 2009- The Friends of Light Rail has relocated four historic streetcar carbodies to new indoor storage and workspace. The group hopes to restore some or all of the cars for future operation. Click here for the official press release.


Trolley unloaded into B655 010 sm.jpg (126402 bytes) Trolley unloaded into B655 014 sm.jpg (118651 bytes)

The historic cars are unloaded at their new facility. 

Friends of Light Rail photo.

Sacramento bridge graphic.jpg (14934 bytes)

October 2007- A proposed 2.2 mile streetcar link between West Sacramento and Sacramento continues to gather momentum. According to the City's website "The Proposed Project would initiate streetcar service, using either replica or modern streetcars, in the public right-of-way connecting the West Sacramento Civic Center and Raley Field with Downtown Sacramento." A recently released feasibility study has analyzed various route options and costs and the City is now moving forward with environmental review. Additional details are available on the project website Riverfront Streetcar.Com 


Sacramento initialroute.jpg (130647 bytes)

Proposed route, click to enlarge

September 2005- The Friends of Light Rail and Sacramento RTD will host the Capital Area Streetcar Summit in Sacramento on September 23. The summit will examine the effective use of streetcar systems in the US and also focus on options for the implementation of a system in Sacramento using Vintage Trolleys.



Riverfront Streetcar.Com 

"RT Hops Aboard Trend to Redeploy Streetcars" Business Journal 7/29/05

Friends of Light Rail website

"Sacramento May See Return of Historic Streetcars"  Light Rail Now website April 2003

"Add a Trolley to that Riverfront" article from Sacramento Business Journal, September 2002

California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento


This page was last updated on 11/23/11


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