MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mayor Jim Strickland cut the ribbon Monday as the city's Main Street trolleys officially went back into service.
The historic trolleys had been out of service for nearly four years after two of them caught fire, exposing a host of deferred maintenance issues with the line. Refurbishing and testing the trolleys took months longer than anticipated and cost more than $10 million.
"It was important to get this right instead of getting it in a hurry," Strickland said. "It's a sign of a vibrant city and an interesting downtown."
Monday's launch of the refurbished trolleys took longer than expected, but city leaders say it was important to get it right.
The first official trip up and down Main Street was packed the entire time with more people getting on at every stop.
"With the trolleys back, it's exciting and thrilling," resident Jacqueline Ceaser said.
Ceaser says she wanted to be on the first ride as an early birthday present to herself, saying she missed seeing and riding the trolley cars downtown.
"They've been completely refurbished top to bottom," she said.
"They're a lot quieter. I joke about having round wheels compared to square ones in the past," Mata CEO Gary Rosenfeld said.
MATA says fares are free until May 14th.
"We've got them here for the community, and we welcome the Memphis in May visitors to utilize our trolleys and enjoy them," Rosenfeld said.
The Riverfront and Madison lines are not yet back in service.
Sunday marked the 25th anniversary of the Main Street trolley line, which opened April 29, 1993. Memphis' original streetcar lines stopped operating in the late 1940s.