Walking tour will follow the trail of the trolleys

This is one of the yellow trolleys that gave transportation to residents of the capital until 1950. The route was powered by electricity.

Another of those walking tours of San José will take participants back to the days of the trolley,tranvía in Spanish, when there was not so much pollution or the crush of vehicles in the capital.

Alianza Francesa is presenting the program Aug. 11, and, like similar ones in the past, there is a walking tour, a lunch and a discussion.

The French cultural organization said that participants would hike part of the route and visit some of the major trolley stops.

The historical excursion comes at a time when San José officials are thinking of bringing back a modern version of the trolley.

San José got its first trolley in 1887 just three years after electricity was being distributed. Those who took the trolley look back on those years with nostalgia. The urban rail system was phased out 63 years later, according to the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz.

Bus routes were more flexible and there was not so much concern about vehicle exhaust.

The yellow trolleys ran 18 hours a day from Sabana Sur to the center of San Pedro, Barrio México and Guadalupe. One major route was along Avenida Central. Another was from Avenida Central to Plaza Víquez.

The trolley system meshed with the rail service because stops were near the Estación al Atlántico.

The weekday fare was 10 centavos from San Pedro to the center of San José and 10 centavos more to Sabana Sur, according to  Porfirio Acosta Ramírez, a motorman and conductor whose recollections are captured on a Internet video. He said each car could carry 70 persons.

The municipality has signed an agreement with a consulting firm to determine the feasibility of reinstituting a modern trolley system in the capital.

A report is due at the end of the year. Not coincidentally the project is being financed by a donation by the Embassy of France.

Alianza Francesa is accepting reservations for the Aug. 11 tour at its three locations in the Central Valley. The admission is 15,000 colons a person, about $30.

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