APTA Streetcar and
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Heritage Trolley Site
Hosted by the Seashore Trolley Museum
Philadelphia, PA

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Philadelphia, PA

After years of planning and preparation, streetcar service returned to Route 15 Girard in Philadelphia on September 4, 2005. Elsewhere in the city, a network of streetcar lines feed into the subway under Market Street, as they have for a century. West of the city, two suburban streetcar lines run west from the 69th Street Terminal of the Market-Frankford elevated/subway line.

Route 15 - Girard

The APTA Streetcar and Heritage Subcommittee met in Philadelphia on January 20 and 21, 2006. The meeting featured a detailed description of the Route 15 Girard project and a tour of the line. Follow this link for the SEPTA presentation given at the meeting and notes based on the presentation:

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) restored service using half century old PCC streetcars on Route 15 Girard, a long line that crosses the city north of downtown. Streetcar service on Route 15 was discontinued some years ago when SEPTA retired its PCC fleet. However, the community has consistently pushed to have rail service reinstated for essentially the same quality of service reasons that make heritage or modern streetcar service desirable. SEPTA planned to buy new cars for its subway-surface lines to free up relatively modern cars for Girard but found the price prohibitive. Consequently, they decided to substitute PCC cars remaining on their property. The cars are the same types being used in heritage service in San Francisco and Kenosha. The cars were rebuilt and equipped with air conditioning.

The first Philadelphia PCC-II ready for shipment from Brookville Equipment in September, 2003.

The operator's control panel is similar to that on the city's Kawasaki LRVs.

New, easy to maintain interior surfaces were molded by Brookville and reconditioned bus seats installed.

A wheelchair lift is positioned at the front of the center door.

Brookville's new truck is an advancement of standard PCC design trucks.

This overhead view shows the expanded cowling that houses the air conditioning.

A strobe light at the front of the roof will be used to obtain signal priority at upcoming intersections.


In November 2001, SEPTA's board authorized a $23 million contract with Brookville Equipment Corp. of Brookville, PA for rebuilding 18 PCC cars at a per unit cost of $1.2 million. The Authority also obtained an option to rebuild a further 8 cars at the same price. The firm—a builder of mine locomotives—completely overhauled the car bodies, equipping them with new trucks of their own design, adding handicapped lifts at the center doors, installing a new solid state control system, and adding air conditioning. The first car was delivered in late summer, 2003, and revenue service was initially planned for Summer 2004, before some local political issues arose to delay the startup. The political dispute—over converting a short stretch of a street connecting the line to its carbarn to one way—continued to prevent setting a startup date until late spring 2005 after the mayor stepped in to settle the dispute.

Economic Benefit

Click here for an article describing the economic rebirth inspired by the Girard trolley project.

Route 15 Branch/Extension

A surprising development in 2010 was construction of a short branch and turning loop near the eastern end of Route 15, the first new stretch of streetcar line in Philadelphia in decades. The branch serves the Sugar House Casino and will allow short turning of Route 15 cars while a planned two year reconfiguration of the Interstate 95 exit and a realignment of Richmond Street causes the easternmost 2.5 miles of Route 15 to be suspended.

Girard Avenue looking East toward Frankfurt as excavation for the new junction was underway.

PCC 2321 crosses the newly installed junction. Track to the left leads to the Casino.

The site of the new turning loop with the Casino in the background.

Concrete is poured between the rails on the newly built track on Frankford Ave.

An earlier generation of streetcar rail remianed below the asphalt on Frankford and had to be removed to make way for the new.


Delaware Riverfront

Click here for a story from Center City's Weekly Press of initial plans for a streetcar connection between Center City and the Delaware River.

News Notes

The following news notes give an overview of streetcar developments in Philadelphia:


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