El Paso, Texas & Juarez, Mexico
Built 1947 • Operational • Tribute livery
This car is painted to honor El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico, which ran PCC streetcars from 1950 to 1974, the only PCC streetcar line to ever cross an international border.
El Paso's PCC streetcars came second-hand from San Diego (See our No. 1078). A bit ironically, the buyer, El Paso City Lines, was owned by National City Lines (NCL), notorious for buying transit systems around the U.S., ripping out the streetcars, and replacing them with buses.
In El Paso, NCL did convert several streetcar lines, but not the international route across the Rio Grande River Bridge into Juarez. First, the line was very profitable. Second, El Paso City Lines only had authority to run streetcars in Mexico -- not buses. So they replaced older streetcars with 17 of the San Diego PCCs in 1947. Because of increased ridership (a rarity for streetcars in that era), they bought three more PCCs in 1952.
Since these PCCs were single-ended, with no turning loop at the carbarn, the cars had to back up a full mile to enter service every day. The traditional front-facing PCC seating (seen on No. 1073) was replaced with continuous longitudinal seating along the walls of the cars so that customs officials could check passengers more quickly as they crossed the Rio Grande.
The international line came to an end in 1973, when Juarez merchants pressured their government to end the concession, believing too many residents were crossing the Rio Grande on the streetcars to shop in El Paso. The El Paso side of the line shut down the following year. But 10 of the streetcars survive today, with the City of El Paso, now their owner, periodically raising the possibility of restoring some kind of streetcar service there.
National City Lines generally painted the streetcars of its properties in a standard orange, green, and white livery colloquially known as 'fruit salad' and so it was in El Paso initially. The 'fruit salad' paint scheme of National City Lines is modeled (in its Los Angeles version) on Muni No. 1080. But most El Paso streetcars later received different schemes, including this late 1960s version in light green with white and red trim modeled on No. 1073. The crossed American and Mexican flags on the front provide a nice detail.