Riverside, Calif., gets streetcar study grant

Written by Douglas John Bowen

Caltrans has awarded Riverside, Calif., a $237,500 grant for a feasibility study to restore streetcars to the southern California city.

Riverside Mayor William Bailey said the grant “really validates the streetcar concept and allows us to move forward on a serious examination of important next steps.” Bailey made the comment in a statement Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013.

The early concept for the proposal, dubbed “Riverside Reconnects,” is a 12-mile streetcar route between the University of California-Riverside campus)and downtown along University Avenue, and from downtown to La Sierra along Magnolia Avenue. The first phase would be the four-mile UCR-downtown portion of the route.

Bailey is considered one of the prime proponents of restored streetcar service to the city, located roughly 55 miles east of Los Angeles. Metrolink service currently offers regional rail connections linking Riverside and LA. Metrolink also is pursuing a 24-mile extension of its “91 Line” south from Riverside to Perris, Calif.

As the proposal’s title suggests, Riverside is one of several communities once served by the famed Pacific Electric streetcar network, with a hub in Los Angeles, and is among several communities (including Anaheim) seeking to restore some semblance of such service, which vanished from Southern California by 1961. Riverside itself was specifically served by the Riverside-(Arlington-)Corona Line until early 1943.

Riverside last March applied for a grant from the Southern California Association of Governments to fund a study of the route.