San Diego, California
Built 1946 • Operational • Tribute livery
This streetcar is painted to honor San Diego, which operated PCC streetcars from 1937 to 1949, and again starting in 2011.
Telstar Logistics photo.
San Diego Electric Railway (SDER) was originally owned by the sons of San Francisco 'Sugar King' Claus Spreckels. They also owned the famed Hotel del Coronado and the San Diego & Arizona Railroad. In the mid-1930s, SDER's fleet featured heavy, roomy conventional streetcars, built in 1923, that were generally popular with riders, along with older wooden cars. Not standing pat, SDER became the first west coast operator of PCCs in the spring of 1937, beating out Los Angeles by a few weeks.
San Diego's 28 PCCs were concentrated on a few lines. After the end of World War II, the city's population exploded, with many developments beyond the reach of the streetcar lines. In 1948, the system was sold to a former executive of National City Lines, who followed their familiar playbook of bus conversion. Rail service was abandoned in 1949. Twenty of the PCCs were sold to El Paso; the rest couldn't find a buyer and were sold to a scrapper eight years later. Two of those cars ended up preserved.
But in 1981, San Diego started the American streetcar renaissance with its bright red "San Diego Trolley," actually light rail vehicles, running on old railroad right of way from downtown to the Mexican border. The system has steadily expanded across the region, and in 2011, added a PCC car (formerly Muni No. 1123) in weekend service on a downtown loop called the "Silver Line," painted in a version of the original San Diego PCC livery.
One note on the paint scheme of No. 1078. San Diego's original PCC livery included painted signs promoting the "Zoo and Balboa Park via lines 7 and 11." Well, San Francisco has a zoo and a Balboa Park too, but lines with those numbers don't take you there. So some of the wording on the painted signs has been modified. But the trademark message "Ride & Relax" is still there to see.