Off Wire/Alternative Power Supply
One of the fastest moving technical areas in streetcar system design relates to the desire to eliminate overhead wires in part or in whole on newly built streetcar lines. Motivation for removal of overhead wires can be for aesthetic reasons or to avoid conflict with wires or structures above streetcar tracks. The Subcommittee has been following these developments closely and members John Smatlak and John Swanson summarized developments in this document:
Level Boarding Background Memo
An area of increasing interest and importance to those planning streetcar systems is that of easing access to modern streetcars for those with disabilities or special mobility needs. The subcommittee is working with the Community Streetcar Coalition and other industry groups to foster a conversation of the issues surrounding different approaches for level or near level boarding to meet the needs of these passengers. Follow this link to the latest draft of a memo summarizing the key issues:
Heritage Vehicle Standard
The APTA Heritage Trolley Subcommittee's first major project in the area of
technical standards was to create standards for vehicles to be used on
heritage trolley and streetcar lines. Task Force member John Smatlak led this effort.
The standard applies both to newly constructed cars and restored older cars
which are to be operated on a heritage trolley line. The Task Force's document
was formally released by APTA on June 20, 2005. Follow the
link below to APTA's web site to access this standard:
This standard and the process the subcommittee's used to create the
standard were reviewed in formal sessions at the APTA Rail Conference in
Pittsburgh in June 2005. The following links lead to the Powerpoint presentation and a
related paper used at the conference:
Modern Streetcar Guidelines for North America
The subcommittee after several years of work has issued via APTA's Standards Development Program, a document to serve as a reference point and a guidline for those considering introducing modern streetcars in the United States or Canada. The goal is to promote understanding of the key technical and operational issues relating to this mode, including comparing environment and practices between North America and Europe. Follow this link to the fiished document:
The working group created a web site to serve as a source of relevant documents and other reference information for this and future related projects. Follow this link to the working site:
Track and Overhead Wire Standards
The Subcommittee agreed that the next area of standards development will be
track and overhead wire infrastructure. A first step is defining the goals of the Subcommittee's standards given the numeours infrastructure standards setting efforts underway in other transit and engineering groups. Follow this link to a draft document designed to capture the Subcommittee's goals formatted as the introduction for the future standards document.
The following presentation, given by Larry Lovejoy at the Subcommittee meeting in New Orleans in December 2008 is an excellent overview of track design guidelines for streetcar systems.
Follow this link for a presentation given by John Aurelius at the committee meeting in Seattle in January 2010 outlining the different types of overhead contact systems (OCS = overhead wire) used by heritage and modern streetcars.
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On May 6, 2010 members of the APTA Streetcar and Heritage Trolley Subcommittee participated in a forum organized by advocacy group D. C. Surface Transit addressing options for streetcar operation in Washington without overhead wire. Click below to see a copy of that presentation:
During the heyday of first generation electric trolley systems in America, a
comprehensive handbook covering virtually every technical aspect of street
railways was compiled by Albert S. Richey, a professor at the Worcester (MA)
Polytechnic Institute. This work has long been considered the touchstone
reference document of the field and is highly relevant to present day heritage
streetcar and modern streetcar lines. In 1989 the Association of Railway Museums
republished the book as a reference for museums preserving street railway
equipment. They subsequently converted the book to PDF format. Click on the
below link to see this work but be prepared for a significant download time as
the file is approximately 27 megabytes in size:
Presentations from Tampa Meeting - December 2007
The following presentations were presented to the subcommittee during its meeting in Tampa:
Bike Interactions with Streetcars
In the past few years, Portland's cycling use has soared at the same time as streetcars are gaining favor as urban transit solutions. In theory, everyone agrees that bicycles and streetcars should be complementary, not contradictory modes. In practice, however, many cyclists feel that the installation of Portland Streetcar has deteriorated cycling conditions on what were previously good routes, and has created new crash dangers for cyclists in Portland. As the LDTMA considers the integration of streetcar into the Lloyd District, several key questions are under consideration: · Do streetcar tracks pose a serious danger for bicycles? · Are bicycle facilities compatible with streetcar tracks? · What is the optimal facility design for a street with both streetcar and bicycles? · What design solutions have been applied successfully in other countries? This report aims to provide an international context for answering these questions by providing a literature review, an analysis of problem statements and best practices from places with mature experience integrating bicycles and streetcars, and recommendations for Portland solutions. Click the following link for the full report: