One of the things that I neglected to mention on the present subject in the prior posting is that Chicago had interurban service via the downtown loop. In other words, various type of equipment, from private railroads in the suburbs of Chicago provided suburban to center city service via the elevated system. Please see the picture below from 1957:
In New York, suburban service, let us say using the Long Island Railroad to Park Row in Manhattan and New York and New Haven and Hartford RR service to 129th Street and 2nd Avenue was not the norm. In the 19th Century and perhaps up to 1919, the Long Island Railroad at times used the right of way of various Brooklyn Rapid Transit Lines to reach Manhattan and other destinations. NY & NH & H RR service to Manhattan to via El was gone very earlier and only a small portion of the existing El structure was used. In Chicago, various interurban services used the downtown loop for many years, and some of this equipment used traditional trolley poles and wires before connecting with the el system.
To be continued...
So which city is more anti-trolley? It is hard to tell. Chicago has kept its' streetcars for two more years than did New York, however Chicago streetcars where front and center in the business district. Since 1936, Chicago Surface Lines and later the Chicago Transit Authority ran the biggest fleet of modern PCC cars, 683 in all. The 600 postwar models were very modern, spacious with three doors. The trolleybus fleet lasted until 1973, thirteen years longer than New York with many lines running almost to the end.
Unscientific Research by Sampling
For several years, I have been using search words "streetcar" and "transportation" in the Google News Section and for here in the United States, some interesting things come up. About ten years ago?, I came across a plan to bring streetcars back to downtown Chicago. The line would have been a loop line. Since that time, I have heard nothing about streetcar developments for Chicago. Of course, other aspects of Chicago rapid transit are covered in the news including new subway\elevated equipment, funding, crime, routing and fare collection, but nothing about proposed streetcar or light rail lines for Chicago.
In New York, plans for streetcars on 42nd Street have been discussed since the 1970's. In fact, a line for 42nd Street was almost successful, including passing the planning board, funding, lawsuits and other red tape. At the last moment, the mayor would not sign off on it because he was concerned about the "pipe infrastructure under 42nd Street". The entire project died around 1993 and it is ironic that there was not a major pipe infrastructure water main break all the years since on 42nd Street.
Looking at the news for the past 15 years for New York reveals that periodically, there is some streetcar data in the news, perhaps every sixth months and includes:
- New plans for streetcars on 42nd street without wires (Vision 42).
- Bob Diamonds' attempts to bring streetcar service to Red Hook.
- A Department of Transportation study concerning a possible Red Hook streetcar line. That study decided it was not a good idea since it would take up parking spaces.
- Various plans to link Red Hook with Downtown Brooklyn and recently other waterfront communities to Williamsburgh and beyond all the way to Long Island City.
- A plan for streetcars on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx.
- A plan to run light rail service on the North Shore Branch of the Staten Island Rapid Transit right of way and a new light rail line in western Staten Island (under study).
- Streetcars for Surf Avenue in Brooklyn in the Coney Island amusement area.
- A plan to run streetcars from the Red Hook waterfront to the Smith-9th Street subway station and beyond.
- There is a New York Regional Plan document suggesting streetcar service in Manhattan on 34th Street and 42nd Street from river to river in the form of a loop.
Even the anti-trolley MTA had a plan about twenty years ago to run a light rail line from Union Square to the lower east side and to our beloved Chambers Street station via a tunnel near Essex Street as an alternative to an expensive 2nd Avenue Subway.
In a future post, I will tell about the difficulty of building a light rail or streetcar lines in the United States, as shown by the news reports of those difficulties for establishing lines in Washington, D.C, Seattle, and elsewhere. In short, Washington DC info is everyday in the news but no information regarding Chicago or New York for the matter.
To be continued.
Doing a Google search for "Streetcar" & "Transportation" ( If I did "Streetcar" alone, I would get reviews to the play "A Streetcar Named Desire") reveals that for such cities such as Detroit, El Paso, Cincinnati, Washington, DC and others, streetcar news is almost daily. Either there is a vote for funding, or opposition to funding, problems with route selection, better use of resources and so on. For Chicago and New York, dealing with streetcars we have silence for many months and many years. In my humble opinion, and I am not a transportation engineer or in the field, I find it ironic that for two of America's biggest cities, namely New York and Chicago, out of hundreds of bus routes, not a single route would qualify from an engineering standpoint for conversion to streetcar?
Anti trolley cities, such as Paris and London, which have similar history profiles regarding streetcars and trolleybuses in terms of abandonment, now have a few nice low floored streetcar lines. Why not Chicago and New York? Forget streetcars are a source of "development ". New York and Chicago are developed already in the Central Business District. What about comfort for passengers?
Just my opinion folks.