Starting in February, MATA needs your help with a regional transit study
In the early hours of a bitter cold morning on January 15, 1956, a streetcar rolled along the Sunset-Hampton line that ran from Oak Cliff, crossed the Trinity River viaduct, and carried passengers through Downtown Dallas. For 66 years, the streetcar route would begin and end its day at the streetcar barns in Old East Dallas on the corner of Elm St & Peak St.
But tonight was different. Tonight marked a turning point in both the life of this streetcar and the lives of all Dallas residents.
The era of the electric streetcar had begun in Dallas in March 1890. For workers, the streetcar offered an affordable alternative to walking long distances. For cities, it offered a cleaner form of transportation compared to horses or coal locomotives. At the height of operations, street car transportation would become so prolific that the Dallas Railway and Terminal Company boasted almost 400 streetcars and 200 miles of track in its operations that were roughly limited to the areas known today as Oak Lawn/Turtle Creek, Uptown, Downtown, Old East Dallas, and Oak Cliff.
By the late 1930s, the growing adoption of automobile and buses led cities to become more oriented towards automobile travel, which ultimately resulted in declining passenger traffic for streetcars. High transportation demands brought by World War II breathed a few more years of life into the streetcar era in Dallas and other cities but by 1950 the end was in sight. This would lead Dallas Mayor R.L. Thornton to declare that “Dallas will never be a modern city as long as it is tied to an antiquated, electric rail transit system”
But tonight on January 15th, 1956, the car was filled to standing room only as citizens of Dallas gathered together to say goodbye to an old friend. They came in ones and twos and small knots of friends who boarded the streetcar as it trundled along its route, all anxious to be on the “last car”. In fact, so many came that two cars—Nos. 776 & 772—were coupled so that almost 200 passengers could experience what they thought would be the “last trip” of streetcars in Dallas. Among those passengers were a man named Ed Landrum and his wife Paula.
33 years after that “last trip”, Ed Landrum and Phil Cobb would found the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority to run electric streetcars again along the historic red bricks of McKinney Avenue. As a result, the area around it has become one of the densest, most walkable, and most desirable locations in Dallas.
Now, 30 years later—and 64 years after that blustery January night—the M-LINE is bigger and better than ever and happy to share our history, and the history of streetcars in Dallas. We look forward to creating new history in Dallas with our many loyal fans and riders over the next 64 years and many more.
To learn more about the history of our cars, visit our Learning page
McKinney Avenue Transit Authority (MATA) has partnered with Green Mountain Energy Sun Club and Environ Partners to harness and promote renewable energy and environmental stewardship.
Thanks to the generosity of Green Mountain Energy Sun Club’s grant of $368,000 for a set of Sustainability Projects, MATA’s operation will become even more energy efficient in the next year. Many consider the McKinney Avenue Trolley already “green” as we run our streetcars on electricity, not limited, expensive and polluting fossil fuels. This new partnership aims to make our system more energy efficient by reducing electricity consumption and saving costs. It will also bring awareness of environmentally conscious renewable resources on both a small and large scale.
The Sustainability Projects include:
- Installation of a roof top 42.7 kW Solar Array system on the McKinney Avenue Trolley Car Barn will produce energy from sunlight and offset approximately 20% of total usage resulting in significant savings.
- The Car Barn roof will undergo a “cool roof” treatment to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat to stay much cooler, saving energy and money by using less air conditioning. It will also improve indoor comfort for the large portion of the Car Barn that is not air conditioned.
- Trolley Car Barn and trolley windows will be solar tinted to reduce more than 90% of UV rays, preventing heat from penetrating the Barn and trolley cars, thus lowering electricity costs by more than $2,500 each year.
- LED Lighting Conversion for the Car Barn and MATA offices will be installed replacing existing lighting. LED bulbs last longer, are more durable, offer comparable or better light and are the most energy-efficient lighting available today.
- Replacing the outdated, inefficient air conditioning units on trolleys with new commercial grade units improving comfort for passengers and reducing electricity usage and maintenance costs. This upgrade will allow our trolleys to continue to transport passengers comfortably while saving an estimated $12,800 annually.
- MATA also plans to install an educational kiosk at the new M-Line Tower facility that will track the performance of the solar and lighting upgrades implemented at MATA in real time. In addition, the kiosk will have educational elements explaining renewal energy initiatives which we can include in future DISD schools Field Trips and other events.
The Sustainability Project will help MATA become more energy efficient by reducing our electricity consumption and expenses, and equally important, will improve the experience for our more than 500,000 riders every year. This green initiative will have a positive environmental impact on MATA and the surrounding Uptown area for years to come.
Thank you Green Mountain Energy Sun Club and Environ Partners LLC!
DALLAS, TEXAS – “Clang, clang, clang went the trolley!” Just as the reverie of these famous lyrics from The Trolley Song can spark a smile, Dallas’s vintage McKinney Avenue M-Line Trolleys – with their rich history, character, and charm – have been providing free rides to Dallasites and visitors, conjuring wonderful memories, and putting smiles on the faces of kids of all ages for 30 years.
30th Anniversary Events:
The McKinney Avenue Transit Authority (MATA) will launch its 30th Anniversary Year of Celebration at 3:00 pm on Thursday, March 7th for media, friends and supporters at the Uptown Station Turntable, 2700 Cityplace W Blvd, Dallas, TX 75204. Dignitaries including Mayor Mike Rawlings will participate. Additional highlights of the event will include the opening of a time capsule embedded almost 30 years ago in the wall of “Rosie”, MATA’s American-made Streetcar #122, the oldest continuously running trolley in North America.
A 2019 Time Capsule Contest will be announced welcoming on-line entries for the opportunity to contribute suggestions for the new 2019 time capsule, which will be embedded in the wall of Rosie, alongside the 1989 capsule. Entrants will be invited to propose their ideas of what messages to send our future Trolley riders and the Dallas community. One winner will be chosen by judges to be announced along with details of the contest.
On July 22, the Trolley’s birthday, Shake Shack in Uptown will feature the McKinney Avenue Trolley’s Donation Day. Just mention the Trolley at the register before you pay and Shake Shack will donate 25% of your meal price to the Trolley! Enjoy a burger and support the Trolley!
On Saturday, September 28th, everyone is invited to the free “Love the Trolleys Birthday Party” on Moody Plaza in Klyde Warren Park, featuring cake, music, trolleys, food trucks and entertainment,
Next, The Trolley Taste of Uptown will be held on October 3rd at The Crescent in Uptown, where the very first Trolley launch party took place, providing tastes of fine cuisine from restaurants on the Trolley line. Tickets will be available for purchase.
Ten-year-old trolley aficionado and expert, Oliver, named Honorary Motorman for the 25th Anniversary is enthusiastically back for the 30th. This year, he is joined by 14 Trolley Ambassadors, ages three to 16, to welcome guests at events and provide information on the trolleys. “We’re all excited about celebrating our 30th anniversary,” said Mr. Cobb. “Our resident Trolley Barn cat, Stone, who was born on the 4th of July, is looking forward to it too.
MATA Gets Kudos for Historic Preservation
Preservation Dallas selected MATA to receive the organization’s 2018 Stewardship Award. It’s a first in the award’s history: The accolade generally recognizes architects and the like, who restore historic buildings and sites throughout Dallas.
“We’ve never given the Stewardship Award to something that moves before,” said David Preziozi, the organization’s executive director. “But we wanted to recognize MATA’s wonderful work in bringing back a significant part of Dallas’ history. It hasn’t been an easy task – a lot of hard work went into restoring those trolley cars, and Dallas is a more historically vibrant place for their efforts. The M-Line is a true icon.”
So far, MATA has restored six vintage streetcars, and currently is restoring a seventh.
Preservation Dallas is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the revitalization of Dallas’ historic character, and the restoration of the city’s architectural and cultural resources.
Accolades for MATA M-Line’s New President
As a boy growing up in Chicago, Victor Cervantes was fascinated by the way things work. That interest only intensified as he grew older. “I’ve always been especially drawn in by anything that has wheels – old cars, motorcycles, you name it,” he says.
He seems to have landed in the right place: MATA, where he joined as the agency’s new president in February.
After earning his degree in electronics engineering, Cervantes embarked on a long and varied career that took him all over the map, literally and figuratively. He’s worked at Motorola, Unisys and Nortel Networks for more than 15 years, where he was – among other roles – vice president of wireless engineering; a knack for marketing and a way with people found him gravitating toward sales, product management and market development.
Eventually, Cervantes became a regional managing director for that company, where he was responsible for all aspects of the organization – human resources, technology, sales, finance and operations – with clients throughout Mexico and most of Latin America.
An entrepreneurial bent got the best of him, and after a few years, Cervantes decamped to San Antonio, where he owned several franchise outlets. After selling them, he had his eyes open for the next opportunity. That’s when MATA Board member Doug Nichols stepped in.
“I’ve known Doug for years, and he mentioned to me that MATA was looking for a new president.,” he says. “I decided to look into the organization and I liked what I saw.”
With his background in marketing, management, operations and familiarity working with technology, Cervantes is ideally suited for the position. He’s especially excited about the problemsolving – and fun – of retrofitting vintage rail cars with modern technology. “This is why I became an engineer in the first place!” he says.
MATA is happy to welcome Vic Cervantes aboard. The M-Line’s New President group presented the Stewardship Award in the “Special Recognition” category to MATA at a ceremony in May.
McKinney Avenue Transit Authority
3153 Oak Grove Ave
Dallas, TX 75204