Greater Greater Washington

Philadelphia's streetcar infrastructure: Old but interesting

Philadelphia's streetcar network is the largest and busiest in the mid-Atlantic. It has several interesting features, some of which can help inform the planning for DC's growing system.


Philadelphia's Girard Avenue trolley, with island platform. All photos by BeyondDC.

Philadelphia calls its system trolleys instead of streetcars, because it's vintage from the original trolley era. While Philadelphia did discontinue many of its original trolley routes, unlike DC they also kept many.

The Girard Avenue trolley line even uses vintage trolley vehicles, originally built in 1947. It also runs in a unique on-street arrangement, with tracks down the center of wide Girard Avenue, and stations in narrow floating medians.


The Girard Avenue trolley's floating platforms.

The Girard Avenue arrangement is totally different than DC's H Street layout, which uses a mixture of curbside and full median tracks.

Philadelphia's center-running tracks result in fewer conflicts with parked or turning cars, which speeds the trolleys down their route. It's almost-but-not-quite like a dedicated transitway.

Unfortunately, the platforms are too narrow to meet modern disability-accessible design guidelines. If DC were to use a similar arrangement, we'd need wider platforms and thus more street width.


Narrow platform on the Girard Avenue trolley line.

On narrower streets in West Philadelphia, trolleys still run in the center, with bike lanes between the tracks and a row of parked cars.


Trolley line on Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia.

The trolley subway

Five trolley routes that run on-street in West Philadelphia combine and then move into a dedicated trolley subway to speed through Center City. It's a great way to maximize the efficiency of the system through its most dense and congested section, while still taking advantage of the flexibility of on-street operations further out.


13th Street trolley subway station.

DC once had a short trolley subway too, under Dupont Circle. Today, DC's reborn streetcar plan doesn't call for any. They're hugely expensive, after all. But with the specter of Metrorail capacity constraints looming, and new DC subway lines under consideration, perhaps someday a streetcar subway could again be appropriate in DC.

What else is there?

I've never personally lived in Philadelphia, so my experience with its trolley network is fairly limited. I'm sure there are other interesting features. What did I miss?

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for the Arlington County Department of Transportation. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives a car-free lifestyle in Northwest Washington. His posts are his own opinions and do not represent the views of his employer in any way. He runs the blog BeyondDC and also contributes to the Washington Post Local Opinions blog. 

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The link to the Dupont Circle tunnel for trolley's was great, and the slideshow was amazing. An underground food court? How far out.

by JDC Esq on Dec 17, 2013 1:07 pm • linkreport

The subway-surface network and the Kawasaki trolleys are one of my favorite North American rail operations of all time. The one challenge that will sometimes arise is that something will disrupt operation into the tunnel and the cars will all have to divert to 40th and Market to pick up their riders from the Subway station there. Not ideal, but at least it provides an option to keep people moving to and from the core.

One thing that may prove to be a challenge for the subway-surface lines is the future though. Neither cars nor facilities are ADA accessible, and the cars are now 31 years old. Any major rehab or fleet replacement will likely incur the need to modernize the accessibility, something tricky on a network built between the late 1800s and 1955.

One thing to note, the 15 line sat idle (served by buses) for over a decade before rebuilding and resuming service with the rebuilt cars in 2003. Sister line 23 along 11th and 12th is supposedly still eyed for resumption at some point, but is likely to require significant investment in order to do so, having last had measurable overhaul in the 1980's.

by A. P. on Dec 17, 2013 1:11 pm • linkreport

I can attest from personal experience that the rails are designed just right to catch a bike tire and send the rider to the street.

by Crickey7 on Dec 17, 2013 1:20 pm • linkreport

What about SEPTA's Norristown High Speed Line?

by Gregory on Dec 17, 2013 1:21 pm • linkreport

Philadelphia also has an extensive network of Regional Rail (heavy rail) separate from its subway and trolley lines. These are very effective at bringing commuters from the burbs into center city. Think what it would be like if MARC and VRE stopped directly at all the existing downtown metro stations.

You should look also into the Brussels tram/ subway system. Might be an interesting comparison too.

by snootypants on Dec 17, 2013 1:29 pm • linkreport

That runs on a separated track, not in the street at all.

by Crickey7 on Dec 17, 2013 1:31 pm • linkreport

Looks a lot like the Green Line in Boston.

by contrarian on Dec 17, 2013 1:56 pm • linkreport

@Crickey7

I too can speak from experience. Biking on Baltimore Avenue (the street in West Philadelphia pictured above) was always scary. The bike lanes are in between the parking lanes and the trolley tracks and are probably too narrow given the amount of danger on both sides.

That said the trolley network in Philadelphia is pretty awesome, if only because so much of it was preserved. As Dan notes, it's very old, but offers a lot of lessons for modern-day streetcar and light rail planning. It's no surprise that Montgomery County's Purple Line Functional Plan has SEPTA trolleys (specifically the 102, which serves Delaware County west of Philadelphia) on its cover.

by dan reed! on Dec 17, 2013 2:01 pm • linkreport

I couldn't see anything in the images because the overhead wires were too cumbersome.

by William on Dec 17, 2013 2:08 pm • linkreport

I second the suggestion of looking at Brussels' system.

by Thad on Dec 17, 2013 2:41 pm • linkreport

Unique on street arrangement? Not at all.

by JJJJ on Dec 17, 2013 2:46 pm • linkreport

I'm not a huge fan of SEPTA since it's more of a barebones "function-over-form" system compared to other urban transit systems in the region, including New York, DC, and Boston.

For instance, most of the regional (commuter) rail lines have station stops every 2 minutes, don't have restrooms in the cars, and have seats (in the older Silverliners) that quickly get uncomfortable after a few minutes. That said, there are a number of things I do admire about the system, including their streetcars.

Another good SEPTA example that DC/WMATA could emulate is the skip-stop operation that they have on the Market–Frankford Line subway/heavy rail line. It can be a real pain to ride 45+ minutes from Shady Grove to downtown DC and beyond.

by King Terrapin on Dec 17, 2013 3:04 pm • linkreport

Green Line in Boston...same idea line was kept operational with replacements for the PCC cars (Boeing LRVs...yes that Boeing).

Street island platforms...many lines in DC had exactly the same thing, but painted street islands with raised pavement markers in advance or raised platforms. Look at the Captial Traction book by Leroy King or this YouTube video of the 40 line at about 1:00 minute in
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfKgQ1APirI Search Washington DC Trolleys on YouTube.

The only significant difference on Girard Avenue are the impact attenuators in front of the platform and the fenced railings on the back side.

by Some Ideas on Dec 17, 2013 3:07 pm • linkreport

@ Gregory - Back in the early '90's I rode the Norristown High Speed Line quite a bit. It was definitely not high speed and the cars were quite old. But I loved it. I wonder if they've gotten new cars since?

General comment - I also loved SEPTA's regional rail downtown stations. You could ride for free (maybe still?) from Market East through Penn Station and to 30th St. as the conductors never checked tickets between those three stations.

And, I happen to know from experience that it used to be possible to ride your bicycle underground from 13th St. all the way to 20th St. (all the stairs were "down" that direction so you didn't need to get off your bike...). Made for fun rides late at night...

by Pretzel on Dec 17, 2013 3:23 pm • linkreport

What did you miss? Well, one thing of possible interest is that North Philadelphia has a number of streetcar lines that have been "tempoarily out of service" now for years. In fact, one line of note is Route 23 which ran from South Philadelphia to Chestnut Hill which for decades carried the distinction of being the longest all in-street streetcar line in North America. Sadly, it has been out of service now for nearly 20 years although the last I knew most of the track was still intact.

Regards,
Fred M. Cain

by fredmcain on Dec 17, 2013 3:36 pm • linkreport

The SEPTA trolley system for the E-W lines has a lot in common with the Boston Green Line. But the MBTA Green Line has more modern equipment and I think a much higher percentage of the above ground track mileage running in dedicated ROWs in the center of the roadways.

SEPTA is a threadbare system because it has been undercapitalized for many years and was recently facing the prospects of having to shut down much of the system over the next 10 years (see SEPTA doomsday plan). The good news is that PA joined MD & VA in passing a major tax increase, in their case lifting a wholesale gas tax cap, to pay for big funding increase for transportation. SEPTA is getting a significant increase in capital funding which will be put to immediate use on critical bridge repair and maintenance projects. The new funding should allow SEPTA to buy modern low floor trolley cars for all their trolley lines which was in the unfunded capital needs list through FY2025. The SEPTA 12 year capital funding projection calls for restoring trolley service to Routes 23 & 56 which was also in the unfunded capital needs list.

SEPTA will need to find additional sources of funding for expansion projects (NHSL to King of Prussia, Broad St line extension to the Navy Yard, etc), but the gas tax increase which almost died multiple times in the PA House, will put SEPTA into far better financial shape than it has been in the last decade.

by AlanF on Dec 17, 2013 4:13 pm • linkreport

I've never taken Philadelphia's trolleys but they remind me of Boston's Green Line. It also has multiple lines merging to an underground tunnel downtown, and has a variety of exclusive right of way, street medians, and in-line with cars for a brief stretch. My favorite was the D branch riding through the trees of the Fens. I hope the Purple Line will have nice scenery too.

by AL on Dec 17, 2013 4:13 pm • linkreport

Two other things you missed: the Media/Sharon Hill trolleys [Rt. 101, and 102 respectively] are a precursor to today's light rail lines operating on various rights of way [street, private ROW] as well at the famous street scenes in Media [trolley running in the middle of the street]. Both lines [especially the Media Line] are similar to the MBTA's Riverside Line. In the 100+ years of these lines, many suburban towns grew up along these trolley lines [Upper Darby, Drexel Hill, Clifton Heights, Springfield, Media, Aldan, Collingdale and Sharon Hill, original "Trolley Suburbs".

by Mark DeLoatch on Dec 17, 2013 4:28 pm • linkreport

On another topic, the Philly trolley system would get more support and TLC if the vast majority of the system wasn't stuck in Philly's horrid inner city neighborhoods.

by Mark DeLoatch on Dec 17, 2013 4:30 pm • linkreport

One scary aspect of Phildelphia's streetcar story is how quickly it went from the backbone of the city's transportation network to a skeletal remnant. Unlike other cities whose streetcar networks were thinned over decades, the PTC went to just over a dozen lines from 1954 to 1958.

The remnants then thinned more gradually between 1969 and 1992 to the six remaining lines.

All told, I am glad they hung on, but they are a fragment of the original network. Visit phillytrolley.org for a nice retrospect of the system through the years.

by A.P. on Dec 17, 2013 4:57 pm • linkreport

Philadelphia trolleys are also really, really overcrowded going into West Philadelphia. So crowded that it would probably be better to run articulated buses -- or, well, longer streetcars, but there's no money in Philadelphia to expand anything. The crazy Tea Party governor...

by James on Dec 17, 2013 5:21 pm • linkreport

Back in the early '90's I rode the Norristown High Speed Line quite a bit. It was definitely not high speed and the cars were quite old. But I loved it. I wonder if they've gotten new cars since?

Yes, they have. They ordered new cars from ABB in they late eighties or early nineties, but they were extremely problematic and took a long time to go into service, I think there were lawsuits involved, but the old units - called Bullets - have been retired for some time.

The Bullets were very streamlined and fast, they ran at 80-85 mph. Interestingly enough, besides the Norristown High Speed Line, the Bullets also ran on a NY interurban line called the Fonda, Johnstown and Gloverville Railway, which ran from Shenectady to those towns. After the line closed in the late thirties, they went to Utah, to a very rural line called the Bamberger Railroad, which went from Ogden to Salt Lake City.

In any case, yes they served the Norristown line from the early thirties to the early nineties. The first time I rode the line, it was on a new car - called an N-5 - one way, and an ancient Bullet the other. Such a contrast. In any case, the history of the Philadelphia and Western, the original name of the line, is very interesting. Then there are the Electroliners, which are a whole different story.

by kinverson on Dec 17, 2013 5:36 pm • linkreport

Visit phillytrolley.org for a nice retrospect of the system through the years.

Thanks for reminding me of this site, I lost the bookmark when my computer crashed and burned a few years ago. It's chock full of information about Philly trolleys. The maps show how many lines there were back in the day.

by kinverson on Dec 17, 2013 5:47 pm • linkreport

Just wondering but has anyone ever sued Phildelphia for lack of ADA access ?

There is no excuse for why that platform should not be replaced and there should not atleast be new cars to serve the disabled that goes for every city. I dont even think by the looks of it a wheelchair could fit on that platform and turnaround without falling into the street.

by kk on Dec 17, 2013 6:03 pm • linkreport

The reason that National City Lines never completely shut down the trolleys was the downtown underground tunnel, which was incredibly efficient, but lacked the ability to vent exhaust for buses.

by Richard Layman on Dec 17, 2013 6:58 pm • linkreport

Terrapin - SEPTA's barebones operations are a direct result of their barebones funding from the Commonwealth. SEPTA's funding is only about 1/3 that of WMATA, and SEPTA also has to run a dozen regional rail lines, whereas in DC VRE and MARC get separate funding. A recent bill out of Harrisburg will actually double their funding for the next few years, but even that will only let them catch up on deferred maintenance and issue bonds for major acquistions of new equiment. They have to replace hundreds of EMUs and streetcars in the near future.

The 15 is a weird case. By refurbishing the original trolleys with wheelchair lifts, they were able to dodge ADA compliance that they wouldn't have been able to get on a new vehicle. The narrow median platforms predate the restoration, you can still see some surviving ones from the 56 on Erie avenue. The 56, along with the 15 and 23 were the last 3 all-surface trolleys in Philly, before they were "temporarily" bustituted in 1992. For the next decade after that, the subway-surface trolleys were the only city streetcars, having only survived because buses couldn't run in the tunnel.

The suburban trolleys are a weirder case. The Norristown High Speed line gets it's name from the former 85+ MPH bullet cars, but even the new N5 cars can go over 60. It operates on a signal system, and only stops for boarding or alighting, so outside of rush hour, the cars can maintain speed through stations. That's actually why they don't just run high platform versions of the K-cars, the traction motors couldn't handle the constant use.

The Media and Sharon Hill lines run mostly on dedicated RoW as well, and actually have better operating ratios than many city buses. I've also heard there's some complex eminent domain situation where the RoW is deeded indefinitely for rail use, but could not be converted to a busway.

by RailPhilly on Dec 17, 2013 7:06 pm • linkreport

I always hoped that SEPTA could expand use of trolleys. There are certain bus routes like the 21 and 42 run near the 36 street portal that could be converted to trolleys. It would require a massive rethinking of how SEPTA works.

RailPhilly, shifting gears, has there been any talk of making the Swampoodle Connection?

by Randall M. on Dec 17, 2013 8:35 pm • linkreport

Another interesting network perspective about Philadelphia: Center City is walkable enough, and has a dense enough spine, that a huge proportion of the transit seats (counting subway, trolley, regional rail, and bus) runs pretty much along Market to maximize transfer opportunities -- at the cost of coverage. San Francisco's Market Street multi-level subway works kind of the same way.

Washington, of course, can't quite replicate that since our downtown is rather more sprawling.

by Payton Chung on Dec 18, 2013 12:18 am • linkreport

Unique on street arrangement? Not at all.

Indeed. Center-running with boarding platforms is quite common around the world; it was here in DC as well.
http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/17603/ride-the-82-streetcar-from-5th-g-to-branchville/

Center-running offers key advantages, often with fewer conflicts from turning cars and can be fairly easily converted into a full-on transitway.

by Alex B. on Dec 18, 2013 7:41 am • linkreport

It seems unique now because you would have a hard time building a similar arrangement now due to ADA regulations.

San Francisco has some stops like this on Market, however:
http://goo.gl/maps/arqSU

by MLD on Dec 18, 2013 8:34 am • linkreport

It seems unique now because you would have a hard time building a similar arrangement now due to ADA regulations.

But not in concept.

Here's the exact same concept in Paris on the T3, which would likely meet all of the ADA requirements: http://goo.gl/maps/pmpnb

The American interpretations are indeed a bit clumsy and bulky (perhaps due to meeting ADA), but the concept is the same. Here's the Expo line in LA:
http://goo.gl/maps/LjPKt

Similar concept without the staggered platforms in Seattle:
http://goo.gl/maps/32V4w

by Alex B. on Dec 18, 2013 8:52 am • linkreport

Randall,

I tend to think the tunnel is pretty close to capacity in peaks for the subway surface cars to be able to accomodate the 21 and 42. The 38 was once a subway-surface line while the 13 was not, and its conversion allowed the 13 to be routed into the subway.

One line in the general area that could possibly benefit from conversion back to rail is the heavy 52 line, but that would be pricey, far more so than switching the 23 or 56 back to rail.

by A. P. on Dec 18, 2013 9:00 am • linkreport

But all those are dedicated transit ROW, not shared ROW on both sides. They are all in big wide boulevards, not a small street with a few lanes.

The challenge is cramming the stop in between two lanes of auto traffic and having enough room for wheelchairs, etc. That SF stop I posted has a ramp and a high platform for wheelchair level boarding; not sure if it was built to ADA or grandfathered in - I suspect there isn't quite enough room for it to be fully ADA-compliant.

by MLD on Dec 18, 2013 9:01 am • linkreport

But all those are dedicated transit ROW, not shared ROW on both sides.

You say that like it's a bad thing!

That's one of the benefits of the center-running alingment. If Philly wanted to make the Girard line run in dedicated lanes, they could do so relatively easily and without moving any tracks.

They are all in big wide boulevards, not a small street with a few lanes.

Girard in Philly is fairly wide.

This segment actually does pull the streetcar into dedicated space: http://goo.gl/maps/PiZJB

2 parking lanes, 4 travel lanes, and two streetcar lanes - plenty of room.

The challenge is cramming the stop in between two lanes of auto traffic and having enough room for wheelchairs, etc.

Spatially, that challenge is no different for a streetcar in mixed traffic than it is for the light rail examples I showed. In terms of meeting ADA, there's no real difference between fitting the stop in between an auto lane and a mixed lane or between an auto lane and a transit lane.

Low floor trams make the station infrastructure a lot easier to deal with, too - see the Paris examples.

by Alex B. on Dec 18, 2013 9:09 am • linkreport

Randall,
No talk of a swampoodle connector. Their priorities now that they have reliable (though still inadequate) funding are going to be repairing bridges, particularly on the Media line, overhauling substations, and the Silverliner VI program.

When it comes to the Regional rails, SEPTA is content to run them as hourly commuter lines, and doesn't seem to have any plans to modernise and live up to the S-Bahn/RER potential the R-system was envisioned as. Swampoodle only becomes necessary if every line goes to 20 minute headways or better.

It's possible that Amtrak will push for it as part of their NEC vision, but their desire to reroute HSR through a deep tunnel from PHL airport and under market east wouldn't require that. Still, if an earlier phase cleans up Zoo Junction, getting Chestnut Hill West trains off the NEC might be something they want.

by RailPhilly on Dec 18, 2013 9:42 am • linkreport

Anyone know what the Philly headways are like? Last time I was there we gave up on waiting for a streetcar and walked an extra 15 minutes to the MFL.

by MetroDerp on Dec 18, 2013 9:49 am • linkreport

One other important thing to note about Philadelphia's trolley network is that fares are collected on board via a typical farebox outside of the tunnel, just like the local buses. This includes the 101 and 102. This will make replacing the trolleys with low floor LRVs/Streetcars a bit more difficult, as most if not all of the off-the-shelf options don't have low floor entrances up front by the driver that would permit this sort of operation. Proof-of-Payment has been discussed, but SEPTA isn't necessarily thrilled with the idea for a variety of reasons.

The 15's platforms seem very narrow from the pictures, but that's probably because the yellow stripe is there. In person, they aren't THAT narrow (though certainly not wide). When the 15 was reconstructed, a number of new platforms were added to Girard Ave, perhaps for ADA compliancy.

Where there isn't room for a platform, passengers just wait on the side of the road and when the trolley arrives, they make their way out into the middle of the street to board. Flashing lights warn motorists of passengers that are boarding and exiting the trolleys....but sometimes motorists ignore the lights :(.

Another streetcar network that is VERY similar to SEPTA's operation is the TTC's network in Toronto, ON in Canada. Those streetcars generally operate in mixed traffic while boarding in the middle of the street. Those streetcars will be replaced with new articulated low floor streetcars later this year.

by Brandon A. S. on Dec 18, 2013 10:36 am • linkreport

The street-running Philadelphia lines demonstrate why they disappeared from most American cities. Slow, sometimes blocked by accidents. And Philadelphia has a horrible maintenance record. As a result, all the surface lines except 15 have been discontinued.

The subway-surface lines are much better. Subway in the dense center, surface in the burbs. Boston and San Francisco have similar, and many European cities have or had similar. Brussels for example had tram in tunnel as a pre-Metro when only part of a subway route tunnel was finished. When the whole route was complete, it was converted to Metro.

A much better model to aim for is something like Denver, where the city-center line is on a pedestrian mall, with the radial lines mostly private right of way. About as fast as a subway but at a far lower price.

by Dan Gamber on Dec 18, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

MetroDerp - On paper, the subway surface trolleys have 5-10 minute headways for most of the day, dropping to half an hour very early and late. The problem is that with 5 lines maxing out the tunnel capacity and car-induced delays on the surface portion, trolleys stack up and you might have to wait over 20 minutes, then see 3 right behind one another.

Despite Dan's dismissal, that's not a problem unique to trolleys. Buses have the same issues on narrow streets, just the other night I waited 20+ minutes for a bus that's supposed to be on 5 minute headway, then watched 2 race past my stop jammed with passengers before a third stopped and let people on, with a 4th in the distance.

by RailPhilly on Dec 18, 2013 3:12 pm • linkreport

Some more from a longtime Philly rail rider:

The Norristown High-Speed Line, a/k/a P&W (Philadelphia and Western) by aficionados, was begun about 110 years ago as the first leg of a planned competitor to the Pennsylvania Railroad. Over-ambitious and under-funded, only a short stretch was completed from Upper Darby on the border of West Philadelphia to Strafford on the PRR Main Line. In 1907 it was converted from steam to third-rail operation, and in 1912 a branch was added from Villanova to Norristown, the Montgomery County seat. Ridership on the Strafford branch declined and that part of the system was abandoned in 1956. The line's unique operating characteristics (demand stops only, on-board fare collection, quick acceleration, etc.) give it a comparatively high ROI and have let it survive. A new branch is currently under study to extend service to the growing and increasingly-congested retail and business districts in nearby King of Prussia.

The Media (101) and Sharon Hill (102) trolleys are the rump survivors of a larger network operated by the Red Arrow Lines. Red Arrow provided service in the western suburbs and eventually was merged into SEPTA. One branch ran on partially grade-separated tracks between Upper Darby and Ardmore, while the West Chester line ran almost 20 miles to that city in Chester County. The West Chester line was heavily used but fell victim to a road-widening project in 1954. Misguided tax incentives encouraged Red Arrow to replace the Ardmore line with buses in 1966. Part of the ROW survives as a median strip and another section was converted to a "busway".

As others noted, Philadelphia's streetcar network fell victim to National City Lines' predations in the 1950s. As late as 1956 many lines still operated on north-south streets and almost as many ran east-west. There were also branches extending to Chester in Delaware County and Willow Grove in Montgomery County. By 1960 almost all were gone. Many people have suspected that the subway-surface routes would also have been scrapped if there'd been any way to ventilate the tunnels for buses. Unfortunately the bus-only mindset has remained strong for decades resulting in SEPTA making further abandonments along with those "temporary" suspensions other posters have mentioned.

Finally, there's another aspect of Philadelphia's transit system that wasn't mentioned: at one time it included seven trackless-trolley (or "trolleybus") routes served by hybrid vehicles that run on rubber tires like buses but draw power from a pair of overhead wires. Trackless trolleys have the power advantages of streetcars but can maneuver around obstacles. They're extensively used in some parts of the world but never really caught on in many American cities because the dual-wire system is complex and sometimes considered to be unsightly. Philadelphia suspended the last of its trackless-trolley routes in 2003 due to difficulty in finding replacement vehicles, but in 2008 new vehicles were obtained and service was restored to 3 routes. There's more at http://www.phillytrolley.org/trackles.html

by Budd and Brill on Dec 21, 2013 1:25 pm • linkreport

Washington had it all and then the U.S. Congress stepped in and ordered the discontinuance of street cars thanks to General Motors, the tire and oil company lobbyists. Congress wasn't very smart in the 1950s.

by Vista Bill on Dec 23, 2013 11:40 pm • linkreport

" ... the U.S. Congress stepped in and ordered the discontinuance of street cars thanks to General Motors, the tire and oil company lobbyists."

Those were the companies behind the curtain at National City Lines. Sen. Philip Hart led an investigation in the 1970s but sadly died before it was completed. Without his leadership the probe faded out of existence.

"Congress wasn't very smart in the 1950s."
As the French say, Plus ça change ...

by Budd and Brill on Dec 25, 2013 6:40 pm • linkreport

Alex B:
Girard Avenue is not "fairly wide" its entire length - certainly not the segment I grew up on...
It is quite wide the way you said from Broad Street east...But it narrows down to just-wide-enough to be a two-way street from Broad Street west to 33rd Street...From there, it becomes wide again (but not quite as wide as east of Broad Street) up to its merge with Lancaster Avenue...After that merge (still going westward), it is just another two-way street...
Speaking of wide streets...
It would be nice to see streetcars return to Lehigh, Allegheny, Erie/Torresdale, and Ogontz Avenues, and also 54th and 52nd Streets, among others...

by Ron B. on Aug 12, 2014 8:10 pm • linkreport

Fred McCain's assertion that the Route 23 line being the world's longest all surface trolley line is incorrect. At 12 miles it was the longest in Philadelphia, but several of Chicago's lines were over 20 miles: Western, Broadway-State, and Clark-Wentworth to name 3.

by Edward Laich on Sep 18, 2014 8:44 am • linkreport

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