Route - Service Suspended in June 2014
The initial line began service in 1993. It was 2.5 miles long, mostly double-tracked. The streetcars served the Downtown pedestrian shopping mall, on Main Street, but also ran beyond it on both ends to serve areas that needed economic development. Outside the mall, the streetcars ran on the street, sharing a lane with automobile traffic. In 1997, the initial line was converted into a loop by adding a parallel line two blocks west of Main Street; the extension runs along the river and uses the right-of-way of an old railroad track. The addition brought the total system up to a length of five miles.
In 2004, service was further extended with the opening of a line on Madison Street running from Main Street east to the Medical District area. This extension adds two miles, double-tracked, to the Memphis system. For a map of the route, go to http://www.matatransit.com/trolleyService.aspx
The Memphis lines employ three types of streetcars. Two of the types are antiques, of two basic designs. Seven cars are four-wheel Brill streetcars, two built in the U.S. in 1912, the rest built later in Portugal to the same Brill design. The Brill cars have wooden bodies and 19 seats. The other seven antique cars (more are being restored) are larger (52 seats), slightly newer, have metal bodies and came from Melbourne, Australia. As elsewhere, the antique cars in Memphis have proven reliable in regular service. The third type consists of five replicars built in the past two years by Gomaco, using its double-trucked Birney design.
On Main Street, there are about ten stops in each direction, located every one to two blocks. On the Riverfront Line, there are five stops, located every two to three blocks. On the Madison avenue extension, there are five stops in each direction plus a terminal at Medical Center.
Service on the Memphis Line was suspended in June 2014 after issues involving two cars..
When the line was in operation, service was provided seven days a week. Service began early on weekdays, at 6 AM, to accommodate people going to work. It ran late on weekends, to 1 AM and sometimes later, to serve people who have come downtown for entertainment.
According to news reports in April 2017, MATA hopes to restore rail service on Main Street by the end of 2017.