Rail Streetcar Began Operation: 2004
Miles of Line: 3
Org: Transit Agency
Photo: John Smatlak
River Rail Streetcar is a project of the Central Arkansas Transit
Authority (CAT). The 3 mile line connects together the downtowns of Little
Rock and North Little Rock, providing direct access to the convention
center and historic River Market area in downtown Little Rock, the new
sports arena across the Arkansas River in downtown North Little Rock,
and the Clinton Library. The line utilizes city streets, operating in
mixed traffic, except on the bridge over the Arkansas River, which features
an exclusive lane for the trolleys. The round-trip fare is .50 cents,
with seniors .25 cents and children under five free. An all-day pass is
available for $2.00.
The River Rail streetcar is a component of a larger redevelopment
effort in both the Little Rock and North Little Rock downtowns. The two
cities are situated on opposite sides of the Arkansas River, and both
have relatively small populations. Little Rock has a population of 183,000
and North Little Rock just 60,000, with the population of the greater
Little Rock area being 569,000. Other major projects in the area include
the newly expanded convention center, the redeveloped River Market area,
a new central library, the Clinton Presidential Library, and on the North
Little Rock side of the river, the new Alltel Arena and the new ballpark.
The arena is an 18,000 seat sports and entertainment facility and hosts
both an arena football league team and the U of A basketball team.
The new line provides an important circulator function
between the two downtowns, linking together the area's major attractions
while encouraging tourism and enhancing economic development efforts.
Phase 1 cost $19.6 million, including design, construction management,
three vehicles and the maintenance building. Eighty percent of the funding
came from Federal sources ranging from New
Starts Rail funds, flex STP funds, and High Priority funds from TEA 21.
Local funds were provided by Pulaski County, Little Rock and North Little
Rock. CAT is also offering to selling naming rights for the system, cars
and stations. Annual operating
costs are estimated at $500,000.
Phase 1 opened in November 2004, connecting the two Downtowns.
Phase 2 opened in February 2007 and added the half-mile extension to the
Clinton Presidential Library site and two more trolleys. Phase 2 cost
$7.6 million dollars. Longer range plans include a possible 3 mile extension
to Little Rock National Airport.
Equipment: The line is served by Gomaco replica trolleys,
similar in appearance to the cars built for Tampa, Florida. The Little
Rock cars are shorter by the length of two windows, and because of the
geography of the Main St. Bridge over the Arkansas River, are also equipped
with a magnetic track brake as an additional safety feature. Three cars
were purchased for operation of the initial phase, and two additional
cars provided as part of the phase 2 line extension.