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Articles About Streetcar Systems

Reference Papers

Reproduced here are papers containing subject matter which can serve as background or reference information for those planning heritage trolley systems.

Light Rail & Streetcar Systems - How They Differ; How They Overlap. Follow these links for this document: Part 1 and Part 2 (The combined document was too large for our server). This brochure, published in 2014 and updated in 2019, explains the similarities and differences between the two popular urban rail modes: Streetcars and Light Rail. It was prepared as a joint effort by the APTA Light Rail Technical Forum and Streetcar Subcommittee.

Streetcar System Sponsorship and Advertising Review. Portland Streetcar published in 2019 a review of private sponsorship in a number of new and legacy streetcar systems. It compares the types and amounts of such income received by each of these systems.

Street Smart: Streetcars and Cities in the Twenty-First Century – This book, published in late 2006 by Reconnecting America with the active support and participation of the APTA Streetcar and Heritage Subcommittee, is the definitive guide for those planning heritage trolley or modern streetcar systems as an engine of community and economic development. It covers all aspects of planning and implementation of streetcar systems and is the first compendium of documented economic benefits of streetcar systems. This document is out of print but used copies might be available.

Bring Back the Streetcars – by Paul M. Weyrich and William S. Lind. This paper, published in June, 2002, is an excellent summary of the case for heritage trolleys and modern streetcars. Anyone seriously exploring the possibility of introducing these transportation modes is encouraged to read this paper. Printed copies of this report, suitable for distribution to potential supporters of heritage systems, are available from the Free Congress Foundation. Click here to access the Foundation's online ordering page.

Points in Favor of Streetcars - by Edson Tennyson. This list of points was compiled by a veteran transit professional with more than 60 years in the field. It was intended as a rationale to give streetcar opponents after newly elected Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley fought hard (and unsuccessfully) to kill the streetcar project being built in the city. The points refute common misperceptions about streetcars and the cost of operating them.

Impact on Patronage of Cessation or Inauguration of Rail Service – by Edson Tennyson. This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the preference passengers have for rail transit over buses. Analysis of the experience in many cities over a long time period shows conclusively that streetcars or light rail service will consistently attract more riders than buses along the same route.

Cities Turn to Streetcars to Spur Economic Development - by Daniel C. Vock, Pew/Stateline Staff Writer as published in USA Today. This November 8, 2013 article describes the trend toward urban streetcars and light rail systems in the United States and the reason for cities adopting them.

Understanding Streetcar Costs, Funding, Operations and Partnerships - in Metro Magazine, August 2, 2017, by Rhonda Bell. This article summarizes a wide range of factors that concern the justification, costs, and benefits of new streetcar systems.


The New Electric Railway Journal Articles

Reproduced here are a series of articles from The New Electric Railway Journal, a magazine published by the Free Congress Foundation from 1992 to 1998. These articles chronicle the evolution of a number of America's premier heritage trolley operations, and thus can serve as a valuable reference about planning and operating a heritage trolley system, even though some years have past since the magazine stopped appearing in print format. The following are articles from the printed magazine:

New Orleans Prepares for the Past, Spring 1992

Portland’s New/Old Trolleys, Spring 1992

The Kelley Park Trolley, Winter 1993

Vintage Memphis, Winter 1993

Metamorphosis on Main Street, Summer 1993

Real Streetcars Outdraw Fakes, Autumn 1993

Past Is Present, Autumn 1993

Veterans from Down Under, Autumn 1994

The Streetcar Renaissance in Dallas, Summer 1995

Heritage Trolleys in Memphis and Galveston, Spring 1996

Heritage Trolleys in Transit, Spring 1996

New Orleans Joys, Fall 1996

Charlotte's Heritage Trolley, Winter 1996-97

The New Ladies in Red, Vol X No I