SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Free tram service began Monday at Balboa Park to shuttle visitors between museums and parking lots.
The green tram cars were purchased by the city as part of plans to redo the park's central plaza and help shuttle people around when the Cabrillo Bridge is closed in January for four months of seismic upgrades.
While the major proposal to divert traffic away from the Plaza de Panama was scrubbed, parking spaces were removed from the area earlier this year to make the plaza more pedestrian friendly.
"One thing everyone can agree on is that Balboa Park is the crown jewel of our city, and making sure every San Diegan and every visitor can easily access the center of the park must be a priority," Interim Mayor Todd Gloria said. "Our new trams will make that possible."
Daily operating hours will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with trams running every 10-12 minutes, according to the city.
The main tram car can hold 16 passengers and will be able to tow up to two 28-passenger trailers. They can be fully enclosed during inclement weather and will have video screens that display information about the park.
According to the city, the trams will cost $150,000 annually to lease and $350,000 each year to operate. The funds will come from hotel tax revenue.
The red trolley-style buses currently used as a shuttle service will be discontinued on Jan. 1.