River Street Steetcar

Posted on July 28, 2011 by

The first horsecars began operation in Savannah in 1869. Electric streetcars started operation in 1890 but were discontinued on August 26, 1946. The Norfolk Southern Railway had owned the River Street branch line for years, operating the River Street Rambler, which was a local freight train, until 2003.

The city of Savannah purchased the River Street Branch line right-of-way from Norfolk Southern in 2004 for approximately $600,000. The streetcar now runs along the abandoned railroad tracks in the cobblestones on River Street east and west of City Hall.

Schedule and stations:

The streetcar operates Thursday through Sunday from 12:00 noon to 9:00 p.m.
From west to east the station stops along the line are:
• Montgomery Street
• Barnard Street
• City Hall – Transit Terminal connection to city buses and the Savannah Belles ferry
• Abercorn Street
• Habersham Street
• Houston Street
• Waving Girl Landing – connection to the Savannah Belles ferry to Hutchinson Island

In the spring of 2009 it was hoped that the operating schedule will be expanded to six days a week and operating hours will be extended hours to 10:00 p.m. each evening. A second car for the current single-car service will allow for operation of a two-car train that will be bidirectional.

Later, the River Street Line may be extended to the city’s Roundhouse Railroad Museum and Visitor Center, provided that Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard could have new streetcar tracks laid along it. Other new lines have been planned, which most likely will run on abandoned railroad tracks throughout the city, such as on Fahm Street.

While the River Street Line’s streetcar currently operates on a biodiesel fueled internal combustion engine, the future lines will probably be electrified by overhead wires. Either replica or vintage streetcars could be used for the future extensions. The restoration of Birney Safety Car #656, a single-truck streetcar, is another likelihood.