Affordable Streetcar: Fort Collins, CO

June 18, 2009 13 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The Fort Collins Municipal Railway is a 1.5 mile streetcar line that was built by volunteers at no cost to the City.

Fort Collins Municipal Railway History

Streetcars operated in Fort Collins from 1907 through 1951, first by a division of the Denver and Interurban Railroad, then later by the City.

For full history:

About the Fort Collins Municipal Railway Society

The Fort Collins Municipal Railway Society (FCMRS) works in partnership with the Fort Collins Museum to operate the Fort Collins Municipal Railway, presenting a living history of electric public transportation in Fort Collins. We preserve, display, operate, and interpret streetcar service, and collect artifacts and information of an educational nature and of significance to the City’s electric railway. We strive to:

Promote excellence in operating safely and in strict accordance with the Operating Agreement between the FCMRS and the City.
Adhere to all applicable federal, state and local laws.
Maintain the equipment, power supply and track in safe, attractive and functioning condition and as close to the historically accurate, original condition as practical.

The FCMRS is an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization consisting of:

Elected officers and board of directors
Conductors, motormen and depot agents
Equipment and right-of-way maintainers
Crew scheduler/dispatcher and charter coordinator

In addition to directors and staff positions, our volunteers perform regular line maintenance, maintain operating equipment, manage membership information and souvenirs, write and publish our Trolley Fare newsletter, manage public relations with the City and local news media, and maintain these Web pages. Directors and officers are elected for two-year terms at an annual meeting each January.

The FCMRS was formed in 1980 to complete the painstaking restoration of Car 21, restore the 1.5-mile line from City Park to Howes St., and work with the public and City. Work on car 21 took seven years, while line restoration took almost five years. Although the complete restoration has been apprased at over $2.5 million after its completion, it was accomplished at no cost to the City. All material for restoring track was donated by local railroads and businesses. In order to obtain enough light rail, we helped salvage rail from local railroads, including an abandoned mountain tourist line in the dead of winter.

The Society currently has an agreement with the City to operate Car 21 on scheduled weekends and to operate special excursions during off hours. We conduct regular written and on-line operator training and testing to ensure that we operate in a safe manner. Our operation is also governed by the Federal Railways Administration (FRA), who performs annual safety inspections on our car and right-of-way.

Images of the Fort Collins Municipal Railway

A Fort Collins Birney along a residential street.  This street is not as wide as the typical streets in Riverside, Downtown and Springfield.  Image by berangberang at

Image by Benmesander at

Inside at trolley.  Image by benmesander at

A trolley stop in a park.  Image by benmesander at

An example of single track running in the center of a two-way street.  Image by Natiel3 at

The trolley runs during the summer on the weekends.  Image by Makeesha at

Tracks along the Mountain Avenue median.  Image by snowride007 at

A packed car near a church.  Image by oinary at

Streetcar Facts:

- The line is operational from May through September from noon to 5:00pm on weekends and holidays.

- Fares are $1.00 for adults (age 13 and older), $0.75 for seniors age 60 and up, and $0.50 for children (12 and under).

- The 1.5 mile line includes four stops: City Park (next to the tennis courts), Shields St. & Mountain Ave., Loomis St. & Mountain Ave. and Howes St. & Mountain Ave. (downtown)

What to take from the Fort Collins experience

The Fort Collins Municipal Railway proves that where there is a will, there's a way.  Although the system only operates on weekends as an educational and tourist attraction, it was implemented at no cost to city, state, or federal governments.  

While a streetcar system in Jacksonville should be designed and operated to serve our needs, we should not overlook the possibility of exploring alternative funding solutions to initially get off the ground.  Given that Jacksonville is a railroad hub, the possibility of volunteer efforts and material donations by local businesses should not be ignored.

Article by Ennis Davis