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Sunday, February 19, 2012

What Could Have Been - Part III

  At the end of World War II, the New York City Board of Transportation studied the surface division in Brooklyn that consisted at that time of many streetcar lines, some bus lines and one trackless trolley line.  Each line was studied in terms of economics, physical condition of the wires and tracks and location of depots and maintenance facilities.  Generally, they came to the conclusion that those very heavily used streetcar routes should be retained and upgraded with PCC car operation.  The medium used routes should be converted to trolley coach. and the remaining streetcar routes should be converted to bus.
   To establish this program, in 1947, the following streetcar routes were replaced temporarily with buses:
  1. B-45 St Johns Place
  2. B-47 Tompkins Avenue
  3. B-48 Lorimer Street
  4. B-65 Bergen Street
In 1948, the following streetcars were also temporarily replaced by buses:
  1. B-57 Flushing Avenue
  2. B-62 Graham Avenue
Around the period of  1946 to 1948, the following streetcar routes were still in existence and are found in the previously posted map.  They make up the main part of the streetcar lines that were to be upgraded:
  1. B-35 Church Avenue
  2. B-61 Crosstown
  3. B-38 DeKalb Avenue
  4. B-41 Flatbush Avenue
  5. B-44 Nostrand Avenue
  6. B-40 Ralph-Rockaway Avenue
  7. B-55 Richmond Hill
  8. B-42 Rockaway Parkway
  9. B-67 Seventh Avenue
  10. B-68 Smith- Coney Island Avenue
  11. B-46 Utica-Reid Avenue
As you can see from the above list, the above lines were supposed to be upgraded, but never were.  The literature lists 13 lines but I can only show 11, perhaps because the Smith and Coney Island Avenue Lines were to be split

     Regarding the trackless trolley lines, the first line in Brooklyn, the Cortelyou Road Line (B-23) line that was established in 1930 and extended to New Utrecht Avenue and 62nd Street  in 1932, was to be retained.

Please find below the listing of streetcar routes that were supposed to be converted to trolley bus:
  1. B-65 Bergen Street (was converted)
  2. B-63 Fifth Avenue (never converted)
  3. B-58 Flushing Ridgewood (never converted)
  4. B-62 Graham Avenue (converted)
  5. B-59 Grand Avenue (never converted)
  6. B-72 Junction Blvd. (never converted)
  7. B-48 Lorimer Street (converted)
  8. B-53 Metropolitan Avenue (never converted)
  9. B-49 Ocean Avenue (never converted)
  10. B-45 St Johns Place (converted)
  11. B-47 Tompkins Avenue (converted)
  12. B-69 Inner half of McDonald Vanderbuilt (never converted)
The B-23 Cortelyou Trackless Trolley was to be retained.

In the following map, I tried to show what the electric surface network would have looked like if all the routes were converted as planned.  Since I used present day bus routes as my basis, the produced map only approximates the coverage because in the past 60 years, many two way streets were made one way and the original streetcar routes usually had two tracks on the major street of operation.  Additionally, the Brooklyn map does not show the extent of the proposed trolleybus lines in the borough of Queens.

   If these conversions were able to take place by 1950, and streetcars were retained in Brooklyn until 1970, during which interest in the environment was increasing, and if streetcars and trolleybuses still ran until 1973, around the time of expensive oil and oil embargoes, it is possible that streetcars and trolleybuses may have been running today in Brooklyn and Queens.

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