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El Paso streetcar service remains on pause

The El Paso Streetcar{ }{ }(Credit: El Paso Library)
The El Paso Streetcar (Credit: El Paso Library)
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Father Rahm Avenue between S. Oregon and S. Mesa streets adjacent to Sacred Heart Church in south El Paso is once again open. Despite the change, the city said the streetcars will remain idle.

RECOMMENDED: City suspends streetcars and close Father Rahm for 'public safety'

The reopening of Father Rahm Avenue took place on Thursday after the City of El Paso reported a low number of migrants being released into the community.

"Since the ending of Title 42, CBP has seen a 50% reduction in encounters/apprehensions at the border. CBP’s Central Processing Centers (CPC) are currently holding less than 4,000 migrants and have been decompressing their numbers to NGOs, the County and the City. You can see this on our dashboard," said Cruz-Acosta.

Due to the low number of community releases, there is now additional capacity with the NGO hospitality site network and the County’s Migrant Services Support Center.

For that reason, the Office of Emergency Management has reopened Father Rahm Avenue.

The city suspended the streetcar service on May 7, the same day Father Rahm Avenue closed.

The closures were deemed necessary over concerns for "public safety" and to accommodate the growing number of migrants seen over the last several weeks in the downtown area.

CBS4 asked the city why the streetcar will not resume service.

The reason we are not immediately reactivating the streetcar service is because the migrant situation is still very fluid, and we don’t want to stand up the streetcar only to have to close it down again if we see another surge in the more immediate future.
We want to be able to capture more data to confirm that the migrant numbers have stabilized or are trending down before we can restart the service with greater confidence," said Cruz-Acosta in an email Friday.

Meanwhile, some El Paso businesses say this move will further inconvenience their customers.

“I think this is an inconvenience for my clients because they do use it," said Socorro Salas. “I think I have like 10 clients that use it. They don’t drive. They ride it and it’s free.”

“It’s bad because it would carry a lot of people," said Carmen Gonzalez.

Salas and Gonzalez work in businesses just feet away from a streetcar stop.

“It drops them off at this corner. They go shopping on this street and then come to me for their insurance needs," added Salas.

“Tourists use it more so than the people who work and live here," said Gonzalez.

The inactive trolley comes nearly two months after Mayor Oscar Leeser tried to change the operating schedule for the streetcar.

“You see that they are running empty. So if you utilize them, you are not going to run them empty, you are going to run them when the people are downtown," said Leeser during an interview on April 10.

CBS4 will continue to monitor the situation with the streetcar. We will update you as soon as it starts back up.

RECOMMENDED: El Paso City Council tasks city staff to compile data on streetcar operations, costs

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