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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Anniversary of the Last Trolley Bus in Brooklyn (July 27, 1960)

     July 27, 1960, over fifty years ago, was the last date of trolleybus service in Brooklyn.  Not all of the several lines made it to this end
 date.  The Cortelyou Road route ended on October 31, 1956 and I believe  the St. Johns Place line ended in 1959.  Except for the Cortelyou Road line, the few Brooklyn-Queens operated about 12 years only while the Cortelyou Road line was established in either 1930 or 1932.  Trolleybuses never made it New York City.  In Staten Island, an early operation was set up in the 1920's but did not last long.  It was operated by the New York City Department of Plants and Structures.  Around 1992, there were plans to operate trolleybuses in Manhattan on 2nd Avenue in a "Select Bus Service" format, but nothing came of this plan.  I saw in 1989, in one of the  of ERA  "Headlights" that there were plans for a select bus service using trolleybuses for the B-35 Church Avenue Route and a route going to Co-op City in the Bronx (BX-15).  Many years ago, an official at the New York City Transit Authority told me that a section of trolleybus wires existed under a wooden trough under the IRT Flushing Line el structure at Woodside.  A similar section may have also existed someplace in the Bronx as well.  I am not aware of any trolleybus operation in these two boroughs (except for some Brooklyn lines that crossed over into Queens, such as the Flushing Avenue Line).

Looking back from the late 1960's with the birth of the environmental movement, some people predicted that trolleybuses will make a big comeback across the United States and the world.  They were wrong in the sense that light rail and streetcars made a comeback while trolleybuses stagnated or kept their own.

 For New York City, July 27, 1960 marks the end of a form of electric transportation, on the surface that was in regular service.  Of course, in 1961 there was a private operation of a Swedish trolleycar under the Culver Line and much later, experiments such as Bob Diamond conducted, but July 27, 1960 was really the end.  It is unlikely that any form surface transportation will use overhead wires in New York City ever again.

  This shot comes from the archives of the New York Transit Museum. It was taken on 10/26/48 and it is part of the Lundin collection.  This is at the Fourth Avenue - Flatbush Avenue intersection.  You are seeing a Flatbush Avenue Streetcar and a St. Johns Place trolleybus.  For about two years,  both electric lines shared the street.  The Flatbush Avenue line was motorized in 1951?

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