Whether you travel through downtown or along the eastern part of the seawall, you’re likely rolling over some trolley tracks. For about 20 years, trolley cars ran their 6.8 mile-route through town.
Badly damaged during Hurricane Ike in 2008, the cars have been absent from the island. But, that’s all about to change. On Friday, three of four restored trolley cars will return to the island and will serve as transportation and an attraction for residents and visitors.
The steel-wheeled trolleys have been part of Galveston’s landscape since 1988. For much of the last four years, they’ve been in Iowa where they’ve received extensive renovations from Gomaco Trolley Company. The company’s work includes providing new diesel engines, new electronics and new electric generators. The cars have been repainted and the windows and doors restored.
Recently, the city of Galveston has performed tests on the trolleys. Each trolley and driver were required to complete 75 hours on the rails before certification.
Beginning Friday, three trolleys will run the entire route of the line, which connects downtown and the seawall along 25th Street. For the first weekend of October, the trolleys will be free to ride. After that, the fare will be $1 per person.
For now, the trolleys will operate from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. The public is invited to attend a special event from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Friday to hear remarks from city officials and tour the trolley cars. The event will take place on Postoffice Street between 22nd and 23rd streets.
“We’ve been looking forward to the return of the beloved trolleys since they were damaged in Hurricane Ike and are pleased they will soon reopen to the public,” Mayor Craig Brown said. “There is no better way to see the historic architecture of downtown Galveston and visit the restaurants and shops than by streetcar.”
It’s been a while since island drivers and pedestrians have shared the streets with the trolleys. Officials urge the public to be vigilant and observe safety measures including: Never cross in front of an approaching trolley; when driving, follow trolleys at a safe distance and be prepared to stop; and never stop or park on the tracks.
“Galveston is one of a handful of U.S. cities to have a vintage trolley system,” Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau Chief Tourism Officer Michael Woody said. “The park board and the CVB are committed to help support this important part of our history along with the many unique defining elements that make Galveston an amazing place to live and visit.”
Park board meetings are typically held at 1:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 601 23rd Street.