Council Makes Tram System in Balboa Park Permanent

Seeking to keep motorists out of Balboa Park’s congested core, the San Diego City Council on Monday agreed to create a permanent tram system for the heavily used park.

The vote follows successful pilot projects during the summers of 1989 and 1990, in which trams ferried visitors from outlying parking lots into the park’s center. In a one-day count last summer, 1,000 people rode the tram system, said David Twomey, assistant director of the city’s Park and Recreation Department.

The contract with Old Town Trolley Tours of San Diego, which will operate the tram, calls for three vehicles to serve the park during peak summer periods, with fewer in service when the park is less heavily used.

The $437,000 allocation approved Monday will pay for 18 months of tram service starting April 13, retrofitting of two vehicles to accommodate wheelchairs, and other start-up costs. The council must allocate more money if it wishes to continue the service after Oct. 31, 1992.


The tram will run every day in a circuit that will provide a vehicle every eight to 10 minutes during peak summer hours and every 24 minutes in winter. Motorists will be encouraged to park at Inspiration Point. At least initially, the service will be free.

The council had contacted the McDonald’s restaurant chain to determine if it is interested in sponsoring the tram, but the company, which was rebuffed by the council in an earlier bid to sponsor the vehicles in return for placing a restaurant in the park, declined.