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Monday, December 4, 2017

New York's 4th Regional Plan Suggests some Streetcar Routes for NYC but does not give details.

This map comes from the NY Regional Plan (4th) where the blue lines are proposed light rail\streetcar routes (other than the BQX).   I could not find out more information about the proposals.  The blue line from Bay Ridge to Marine Parkway Bridge; is that line going down 65th Street?  What about the other lines; is that a concourse line in the Bronx?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Wellington's Trolleybuses also end on October 31, - November 1 - 2017

On 31.10.2017 the trolleybuses drove on Wellington's streets for the last time. A total of 29 trolleybuses were used on the last day of operation on lines 1, 2, 3, 7, 9 and 10. The wagons 387, 383 and 384 moved in as the last three trolleybuses, behind car 384 the gates for the trolleybuses closed forever at 0:45 am on 1.11.2017. ... more

It is funny that Wellington lost it's trollebuses on October 31 61 years after Brooklyn lost its trams and the Cortelyou Rd trolleybus.

News note above comes from Trolleymotion.

As one writer many years ago in the ERA Headlights wrote in the October edition:  FINE

Monday, November 13, 2017

Experiments with Trolley Trucks Continue in Los Angeles California

See the link below:

The experimental Los Angeles - Long Beach trolley truck line was presented before the public last week and will be tested during the coming year.   Many organizations are involved, including the Los Angeles MTA.  I wish them success and perhaps having an overhead over a highway we make people who make decisions re-look at interurban trolleybus applications.  Local trolleybus new starts are little and some big users of trolleybuses are considering or already abandoned their systems (for example, Philadelphia, Moscow, Wellington...).

To be continued.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Data Scrapping for Transportation Info using "R"

Recently, I was exposed to data mining and data scrapping using "R" which is a statistical relating language which has geospatial capability.   In a recent "R" blog, it was shown how to use "R" to data scrape the US census information from the "American Community Survey" for 2015.  I found one variable that is transit related and it is labeled "PublicTrans".  I do not know what it measures but you are able to bring it up for selected cities using code.  There are over 500 variables dealing with the census and it is a nice resource to know about.  Some code is shown below.  More to follow.

Package‘census’ October 26, 2017
Type Package Title Scrape US Census Data Version 0.2.0 Maintainer Danny Malter <> Description A scraper to collect US Census data from the American Community Survey (ACS) data andmetadata.Availabledatasetsincludepopulation,income,educationandemploymentlevelsby age,sexandrace.See<>formoreinformation. Unlike other census related packages, this package does not require a U.S. Census Bureau API. URL BugReports Depends R (>= 3.2.0), ggmap, RCurl, utils Suggests knitr, rmarkdown, ggplot2, proto, RgoogleMaps, png, rjson, mapproj, jpeg, geosphere, bitops License MIT + file LICENSE Encoding UTF-8 LazyData true RoxygenNote 6.0.1 VignetteBuilder knitr NeedsCompilation no Author Danny Malter [aut, cre] Repository CRAN Date/Publication 2017-10-26 08:30:33 UTC
getCensus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Index 3
2 getCensus

df[1:5, c("sitename","radius","TotPop","pctMales","pctFemales","AvgFamInc","pctPrivWageWorkers","pctGovWorkers", "pctMarried","pctBachelors","MedianHValue","PublicTrans")]
   sitename radius    TotPop pctMales pctFemales AvgFamInc pctPrivWageWorkers pctGovWorkers pctMarried pctBachelors MedianHValue
1   Chicago     10 2,530,608     48.8       51.2   $87,982               84.7          10.4       35.0         21.8     $269,295
2  New York     10 6,933,559     48.1       51.9  $100,221               81.5          11.7       39.0         22.8     $604,431
3   Detroit     10   876,392     48.1       51.9   $51,019               85.0          10.4       28.9          9.4      $66,165
4   Seattle     10 1,035,736     50.2       49.8  $134,413               81.0          12.7       45.0         33.6     $498,553
NA     <NA>   <NA>      <NA>     <NA>       <NA>      <NA>               <NA>          <NA>       <NA>         <NA>         <NA>
1      330,175
2    1,829,436
3       18,024
4       96,355
NA        <NA>
sitename radius    TotPop pctMales pctFemales AvgFamInc pctPrivWageWorkers pctGovWorkers pctMarried pctBachelors MedianHValue PublicTrans
1       Chicago      8 1,815,448     49.2       50.8   $91,510               85.7           9.5       33.5         23.4     $293,622     261,837
2      New York      8 5,224,374     48.1       51.9  $109,275               81.8          11.2       38.6         24.4     $668,262   1,482,966
3       Detroit      8   536,864     48.2       51.8   $45,772               84.7          10.8       26.5          8.5      $59,365      12,835
4   Los Angeles      8 2,588,438     49.6       50.4   $64,993               79.8           9.4       36.1         17.0     $486,128     161,261
5       Seattle      8   750,999     50.2       49.8  $141,393               80.5          13.2       42.6         35.0     $526,929      78,862
6        Boston      8 1,426,011     48.1       51.9  $114,584               84.3          10.3       36.9         24.9     $481,422     214,912
7  Philadelphia      8 1,718,692     47.2       52.8   $73,323               83.6          12.1       30.4         15.8     $177,031     172,100

8 San Francisco      8 1,017,777     50.6       49.4  $134,464               79.6          11.7       40.0         31.7     $831,206     172,455

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

We Miss You

This a Joe Testagrose picture taken from the Dave's Rail Pix site.  It shows a McDonald PCC car on Shell Road south of 86th Street sometime between 1951 and the last day of service on October 31, 1956.   The Culver El structure is in the background.  This portion of the line used steel from the Fulton Street Elevated and thus looks different than other el girders built around 1914-1920.  The Coney Island gas tanks are also in view and perhaps BMT "C" type el cars in the background.

 A few years ago,  a proposal for a new streetcar line on the Brooklyn - Queens waterfront was established.   By April 2017, a detailed statement dealing with the route and costs were supposed to be made public.   Nothing was heard since April and the rumor is that this project is in trouble because of the source of funding.    Thus it appears that this project ended up like all the other trolley projects proposed for Brooklyn and Manhattan.  You know what I miss?  Even though a trolley was a few blocks away, the wire started to vibrate and you heard a swishhhiing sound, something like a bird tweet.   This was caused by the vibration of the trolley power wire by the trolley pole.  It is unlikely that this will ever be heard again in Brooklyn or New York City.  Notice on the el structure that at that time, no outside cat walks were provided for workers.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

You Want A Seat Near a Window? How about No Seats at All?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Interesting Article by Bill Newkirk of Subchat Dealing with BMT Standard Destination Signs

  A few days ago, Mr. Newkirk submitted to Subchat a posting dealing with BMT Standard destination signs.    A BMT standard car is shown above on the Culver Shuttle and shows one type of destination sign.  According to Bill, there was a period in which the destination signs had readings like the typed copy above.   According to the original article, the typed page was produced from looking at destination signs on some BMT standard cars in 1932 while those original signs was produced in the 1920's.    There are many surprises here, because many of the settings where for elderly elevated lines that would become extinct years later.  For example, there is a setting for Park Row Manhattan.  Would  heavy BMT standard cars would have able to make it across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan without the Fulton Street elevated line and Brooklyn Bridge not altered for heavy steel equipment?   What about the destination "SEA GATE"?  Sea Gate is at the western tip of Coney Island and was served by trolley cars.   To provide this service, would some of the BMT cars be equipped with trolley poles (like the early Sea Beach Line) or would third rail need to be installed?
Other interesting questions remain and this will be continued later.

Interesting Read: Original Destination and Route Designation for BMT Standards

Posted by Bill Newkirk on Sat Oct 14 19:18:40 2017
Just received this document, typed many years ago showing original readings for BMT Standard routes and destinations. There are some unusual readings for older elevated routes. Perhaps the BRT had hopes of rebuilding older els to accommodate BMT Standards. That's my guess. I don't know which series or if all Standards had them. These signs were out of the Standards by 1932. None are known to exist.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Trolleybuses may return to Prague


The city is looking at ways to reduce emissions from transit
Electric trolleybuses will soon be tested in Prague's Prosek neighborhood. The Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) will build about a kilometer of electric cable starting in September, and the tests of the trolleybus should start in the fall. If the tests are successful the trolleybuses could be used in other parts of the city.

There were trolleybuses in Prague in the 1970s, but they fell out of favor. Efforts to create greener public transportation, and more efficient trolleybuses, have put renewed interest on them as an option. Some cities have announced efforts to completely get rid of fossil fuel-based transportation in the long term.

The reason that electric trolley buses are being tested is that hilly terrain uses up a lot of battery power, and limits the usefulness of electric buses. The cable allows the bus to get electricity directly, so it won't run out of a battery charge and be stuck on a hill.

Electric trolleybuses from several manufacturers will be tested. So far Škoda Electric, Ekova and SOR Libchavy have shown interest. All of the models should be tested during the winter, which has he harshest driving conditions.

A track will have to be created and traffic signs changed to accommodate the trolleybuses. The route will be from the Klíčovská to Kelerka stops, which are part of the 140 bus line. Construction on the route should take two months and be under Kč 5 million. It should be ready as soon as November. The Railway Authority (DÚ) will have to give approval for the test and issue certificates for the overhead electric line.

DPP technical director Jan Šurovský told daily Lidové noviny that the testing should take a year but early data would be available much sooner. Plans for how to proceed should be made as soon as in the spring.

The transit company did not want to specify where electric trolleybuses would be used in the future, but transportation experts cited several hilly areas in Prague that could be suitable including Vysočany and Strahov.

An electric bus has been being tested on the 213 line from Háje to Želivského, and it recharges at the end stations. The test should conclude at the end of September.
Interesting article, but what is the track that needs to be created?  I do not think that they are referring to trams because Prague has a large and beautiful tram system.  I wish them success; Tramway-Null(0)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Just In!

From:  Coney Island News

Exclusive: Billionaire developer planning ‘Coney Island Trolley’ service

The "Ocean Dreams" complex is under construction, but it will soon be the site of a San Francisco-style trolley service. Photo by Matt Tracy/Coney Island News

The western side of Coney Island will soon have its own trolley service that will go from 3514 Surf Ave. to Coney Island’s Stillwell Ave. subway station, billionaire developer John Catsimatidis said in an exclusive interview with Coney Island News.
Developers at Catsimatidis’ Red Apple Group originally discussed a bus service for residents of “Ocean Dreams,” which is slated to open in the spring of 2019. The plan was to provide their tenants with the service to alleviate the long distance to the train, but now they are adding a twist to that idea.
“I am designing something even better… a San Francisco trolley,” Catsimatidis said, adding that it would be called the “Coney Island Trolley.”
It has been decades since Coney Island has had an operating trolley service. Catsimatidis said the trolley will be available for anyone — not just residents of “Ocean Dreams” — but he is not sure how much he will charge per ride. He conceded that it is already a costly process to build the foundation of “Ocean Dreams” amid poor soil conditions at the site. “Everything is going to be above grade because of Sandy,” he said.
Residents expressed concern at a community board meeting that the initially-proposed bus service might interfere with the existing B36 bus service across the street. On the flip side, the B36 bus takes an unusually long time to reach the train station from the western end of Coney Island.

Affordability issues?

Affordability issues were among the main concerns among several local residents who railed against the complex at a community board meeting in June. They were disappointed in the lack of affordable housing units and were worried that the complex would drive up prices in the neighborhood. However, Catsimatidis believes the building’s market-rate apartments are aligned with what the community wants.
“We talked about it with the community in the past and there are a lot of affordable units in that neighborhood already,”Catsimatidis said, adding that “the people actually lobbied us” to incorporate more middle class housing.
There will be 440 apartments available at the complex and it will be first-come, first-serve, he said.

Restaurants and grocery stores

As recently as June, Red Apple Group was not sure whether there would be a restaurant included with the complex. But Catsimatidis said the plan now is to include a supermarket and a drug store on Surf Ave. and a restaurant on the boardwalk. When we asked him what type of supermarket is in the works, he said it would be one that New Yorkers are familiar with — but further details are forthcoming.

  Note:  This is not the first "trolley" proposal for the area.  I hope it is not any faux San Francisco cable car vans!
The problem is that the area is in a flood zone. [ See some of my maps produced a few years ago].  If it is a traditional trolley, may it have wires.  Note, do not buy your tickets today, I guess you will have a long wait!  Best of luck to Mr. Catsimatidis.  Tramway  Null(0)

You got choices:

Trolley like rubber tired van
Traditional Streetcar with Tracks and Wires
Traditional Streetcar with tracks but no wires- diesel engine
Traditional Streetcar with tracks but center conduit- very expensive
Traditional Streetcar with tracks and batteries.
Modern low floor light rail vehicle with wires.
Modern low floor light rail vehicle with diesel engine
Restored PCC car with wires
Modern Trackless Trolley with wires
Modern diesel bus painted to look like a trolley

as so on.
Tramway Null(0)

Friday, September 1, 2017

Nothing New to Report for New York City

Hi Folks:

   Sorry for not adding to my blog recently, but there is nothing new for New York City to report for the things that I am interested in:

  1. No news from the proposed Brooklyn Queens waterfront streetcar.  A major statement was supposed to be issued in April, 2017.  I heard that there is a lot of opposition to it, particularly in Sunset Park and perhaps Red Hook.
  2. I am not a user of commuter railroads in New York City but the repairs to the New Jersey Transit and LIRR  routes on 34th Street and underwater tunnels were completed on time.  It was not a summer of "hell" after all.
  3. I believe R-179 subway cars are about to be delivered.  They will look just like the R160's. today.  I pity the young railfans of subway equipment.   There are very few models of subway cars available and no surprises.
  4. The Second Avenue extension opened in January and as you know, it will take years to start any new construction, either as an extension to 125th Street or on another route such as Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn.  In short, there are no bids to start construction on any subway route in NYC as far as I know.
  5. There are no plans or even talk to bring streetcars to traditional streets such as 42nd Street even though Vision 42 tried very hard.  Other streets for streetcar routes, such as the Grand Concourse, Staten Island PRW routes on the former SIRT,  Surf Avenue Brooklyn never developed besides the talking stage.
  6. In Germany, an interesting story about constructing an E-Highway for trolley trucks may be started.  I believe that these experimental highways are being constructed and or tested in Los Angeles, Sweden and now Germany.

   That's all folks.

Tramway Null(0)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Two Interesting Articles

Why New York City's Transit Crisis Is Only Going to Get Worse by Nikolai Fedak

In New York (YIMBY),  Other articles, Google "Streetcar" & "Brooklyn" for news.

  Being very lazy,  I admit that I did not read both articles well but there seems to be two things that are emerging in New York City dealing with subways and the proposed waterfront streetcar line:

  1. The subways are near collapse and something must be done and
  2. The waterfront streetcar line will cause gentrification and cause many elderly and poor residents to loose their housing.
In the first article by Nikolai Fedak, Fedak takes a dismal view that the subways are just at the point of collapse and that very little can be done to prevent it.  Early 20th Century technology is what the system was built on and there is not enough money and time to upgrade the system.  Now comes the interesting point: Mr. Fedak is interested in re-establishing the elevated lines of Manhattan because they can be a backup to the failing subway system.  Elevated lines can be built at a fraction of the cost of an underground subway line.    In another series of articles, neighborhood activists state that the proposed waterfront line will not solve any transit problems and will just cause many poor people to loose their homes and way of life.  Besides, the present day "G" train and "R" train parallel the proposed route a few blocks away from the water.

In the near future, I will give you my thoughts:  Solution is  light rail on reserved rights of way at the end of some subway routes or on very busy bus routes with some sections elevated like formerly in Boston.  Light rail or streetcars should be brought back to New York City not for development but for being more efficient than buses.   Very heavy bus routes should be converted to light rail if certain engineering criteria are meet.
To be continued.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Philadelphia's Trolleybuses are in Danger?

Hi Folks:  This posting comes from BusChat by Transit ChuckG.  See below.  It looks like that Philadelphia's last three trackless trolley lines in north Philadelphia are about to come history in the next few years if the Proterra electric buses with strong batteries are successful.  This will leave only Boston as the only trolleybus operator in the Northeast.  The United States current trolleybus cities are:  Boston, Philadelphia, Dayton, Ohio, San Francisco and Seattle.  Indianapolis, Spokane Washington and Montreal Quebec expressed interest in setting up new systems but I do not know the status of these proposals.  It is sorry to hear bad news that a traditional trolleybus line or streetcar line is in danger.

Septa Trackless Trolleys

Posted by TransitChuckG on Thu Jul 27 06:44:30 2017
Latest rumor:
News on the trackless General Overhaul program, there will be none. They are letting these play out here for 12 years, they have to, because they were bought with federal funds, and waiting to see how the Proterra electric buses work.If they work out well, they're buying them for the three NE. trackless lines, these trackless trolleys are history. The 59, 66, & 75 will be Proterras. Septa's first nail in the coffin was not buying enough trackless for the 29 & 79 back in 2007. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Brooklyn Trolley Buses: 1930 to July 27, 1960

Data and picture from the web site below.  Picture from the Scalzo Collection.

Rumor has it that after the plug was pulled on Brooklyn's Trolleybuses in July1960, an official New York City report came out that stated that trolleybuses are effective in keeping air pollution down.    It is very unlikely that trolleybuses or streetcars would ever return to Brooklyn because of politics and lack of money.  There is money but it must be used for fixing up the emergency status of subways today.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

George Chiasson Maps on the Harlem River Terminal

Source:  Chiasson, George, "From Recognition to Dominance:   The New York Connecting Railroad (Bridging the Bay and Connecting the Pieces)", In "The Bulletin", Electric Railway Association, Inc,  Vol. 60, No. 6, June, 2017, p. 6.

Mr.  Chiasson has been running a series of articles and maps dealing with the railroads in the New York City region.  Many of his past maps and history deals with subjects that we dealt with here, particular  19th Century beginnings to rapid transit in Brooklyn.  Years ago, we posted information about the Harlem River (Willis Avenue) terminal that for a period of time was used by commuter railroads and the Third Avenue Elevated line.  The aerial shot was obtained from the City of NY DOITT dashboard that presently can present 1924 and 1951 shots of New York City.

Mr. Chiasson is a great railroad historian.  In his series in The Bulletin, history of commuter railroads, the steam engine driven pre rapid transit lines in Brooklyn and the elevated systems in both Brooklyn and Manhattan and the Bronx are covered.  Everything down to grade elimination projects on the Bay Ridge Division over the years is told.  Of course, trolley line history is part of this.
Thank you Mr. Chiasson.

Note, if you look at the aerial picture attached, you may be able to see the covered walkway from the East 133 Street station on the 3rd Avenue El to the Willis Avenue Terminal.
Tramway Null(0)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

My New York Subway Classification Scheme

BMT-IND Cars Types

  • R-32
  • R-42
  • R-46
  • R-68
  • R143, R160, R179 (In delivery), very similar to the R-142 and R-188 (IRT) Types.
  • R-211?
Cars in Red to be eventually replaced.
IRT Car Types
  • R-62
  • R-142, R-188  (Similar to BMT-IND R-143, R-160, R-179 types)
So folks, you will be left with cars that look like picture 1 and 3 below for the entire NYC Subway System, after the type in picture 2 (R-68) goes.

Pictures from website.
Picture (top) IRT R-142 and similar to the BMT-IND Types R-160 above)
Middle:  R-46 or R-68, one type
Bottom:  IRT R-62, one type.

I base this on the appearance of the cars.  Actually, there are sub classifications among these car types involving car arrangements, motors, breaking systems and cab widths.  Overall, as I see it, there are on a visual basis two IRT subway car types and 6 BMT-IND car types, or 8 types including the future R-211.  When the R-32's through R-68's are gone, and replaced with drone R-211 types, there will be three system wide types with no seats near windows!  What a boring place!

Just some thoughts about the old subway car types.  There are persons who specialize in this but the BMT Standards consisted of two types, A and B types that had different types of vents, roof construction and destination sign size and arrangements.

The IRT class of cars had many types dealing with different motor types, door arrangements, breaking systems, roof types and so on.  Of course, you had the wooden elevated types as well and articulated units of various types on the BMT.

What remains:  R-62 IRT Type and system wide R-160 types and the gangway type?

Imagine passing the Coney Island Yard and seeing one type of subway car, and a few museum cars?

Monday, July 3, 2017

When Will the Last Seat Next to a Window Come to an End in the New York Subway?

One of the joys of riding the subway as a youth was sitting next to window where your body is perpendicular to the window.  In this way, you did not miss the passing scene; every track switch,  every passing train, the line up of trains at a depot.  Yes, the cars of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company did not have seats near the windows, because your backs faced the windows, yet the windows were plenty and the windows were low.   The Low-V type of IRT subway cars had two long row of yellow seats.  Originally, some of the IRT cars that opened the subway in 1904 may have had a few perpendicular seats in the middle of the car where the center doors would be added later.  And some of the wooden elevated cars that ran on IRT elevated lines had some seats adjacent to windows.  Needless to say, the BMT  Standards and IND R1-9 Class had plenty seats near windows.  The first post war IND Car, the R-10 sort of changed things.  It had a similar seating arrangement similar to its' sister cars, the R1-9, but the window pane was high up for a six year old child or even an adult to see the passing scene.  The R-16, had a modern seating arrangement similar to the R1-9's but the window pane was high up.  Then it stopped!  Classes R-27-30, R-32, R-38's and R-40, R-42 had no longer seats near the windows.  Around 1969 and the early 70's this changed with the R-44, R-46 and R-68 classes on the former BMT-IND lines.  All post  R-68 equipment has no seats near windows and we are talking about thousands of cars.  Of course, all new IRT cars have no seats near windows except an experimental train set (R 110's ?) in the 1990's.  With new equipment coming with no seats near windows, eventually the R-46, R-68  classes will be phased out.  Even the new "walkthrough" trains will have no seats near windows.  So someday, 100% of the NYC Subway fleet will be R-160 look alike clones with not a single seat near a window in any class of cars.  I am not a train car historian, but I would guess that in the 19th Century, some wooden cars on both Manhattan and Brooklyn elevated had some seats near windows.  Don't forget, the dimension of the elevated cars was smaller than present day BMT-IND Equipment.  When will this sad day come that no piece of transit equipment in the NY subway will have any seats near windows?  How boring.
This is a R160A-1 car shot by Zach Summer and found at NYC
Yes, this car is comfortable with air-conditioning and it looks nice, and it has sort of a seat near a window at the very end of the car,  there is very little variation in the car fleet now compared to years past.  This is in my humble opinion.  When the present look a like fleet and any similar cars that arrive in the future, become old, this will make the subway a very boring place.  I believe that the public, even though those persons who are not interested in rapid transit, would like to see some variation.  Well, you might say, the BMT starndards and IND R1-9's and many of the IRT Lo-v's were look alikes?  No one would ever confuse a Low-V with a Type D Articulated Unit.  There was variation between the divisions.  Not now.

  This a Joe Tostagrose picture taken in 5/21/71 of car # 1362 which is a Brooklyn Union Elevated gate car.  I am not sure if Manhattan Elevated Lines in the 19th Century had similar seating arrangements.  Taken from NYCSUBWAY.ORG website.

Proposed R-211 subway car with open gangways at printed in the NY Daily News.  Nice, but so similar to the R-160 class.  " You see one, you see them all..."

Inside of a IRT Low-V car taken by David Pirman on 2/23/63 on the White Plains Road Line.  Notice that the windows are low so that a person can still crank their neck and get a good view.

From "They Moved Millions" of the website.  This Manhattan Elevated Car 1584 (1902-11) had some seats near windows in the center part of the car.  This configuration was also present in early NYC Subway IRT Composite cars before center doors were added later.  The point being that even with a smaller profile, some seats were near windows on older IRT equipment.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Second Avenue El ended 6/13/42

This lithograph was posted in "Subchat" by "Queensboro Plaza" a few days ago.  It is a 1930 drawing by L. Lozowick and it shows, I believe where the Queensboro Bridge branch of the 2nd Avenue El separates from the 2nd Avenue mainline around 59th Street.  I think that it is very cool.  The late teens, 1920's and the beginning of the 1930's was the golden age of rapid transit.

Earlier picture of the 2nd Avenue El posted in this blog.

Second Avenue Elevated RIP

Posted by qveensboro_plaza on Tue Jun 13 16:54:49 2017
In remembrance of the final segment of the Second Avenue El closing on June 13,1942, 75 years ago today, here is a 1930 lithograph by Louis Lozowick:

Sunday, April 30, 2017

I Found a Gem

Hi Folks:

  I came across this video by accident.  It is titled " Trolley Lines of Brooklyn PCC Cars Home Movie 52964MB" .  This movie was shot by Ben Young during the period of 1951 to 1956 and concentrates on the last three PCC operated lines in Brooklyn, Namely the Church Avenue, McDonald Avenue and Coney Island Avenue lines.    I never saw such a long trolley video and it lasts 29 minutes.  This movie covers many of the topics that is discussed in this blog.  A heavy concentration is on the portion of the Church Avenue line at the waterfront, just four blocks from the future Luchenbach ship disaster in December, 1956.  You see in detail the private right of way between First and Second Avenues to the loop.  You see hilly 39th Street as well with a shot a 39th Street 13th Avenue at the fruit store, which may have been called "Burdo Brothers - Poor People Friends".  You look up 13th Avenue and you see the Culver Line.  You will see the garages that I spoke about at 37th Street and the Lumber yard, the former Nassau Electric depot.  You see the Ocean Parkway underpass and you can catch a view of the Kings County Hospital main tower in the distance.  Some Culver Line shots are also shown with B type and AB type BMT standard cars.  You will also see the Ninth Avenue Depot and McDonald Avenue with a sharp decline to Coney Island in the distance.  Other shots include the Coney Island Avenue line at Church Avenue and the private right of way near the ocean with BMT trains overhead at the Ocean Parkway station.  The Coney Island Avenue viaduct over the Belt Highway is shown with PCC cars running gracefully in the middle.

Much more.  Copy and paste the code below in your browser.  You will really enjoy this.

It was nice to see all the old stores again.  The PCC Cars really ran fast and kept up  in traffic.

Tramway Null (0)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Proposed Waterfront Streetcar Between Brooklyn and Queens may be in Trouble

Hi Folks:

  Sorry for being away, but not too much was happening.   New news recently came about that the proposed waterfront streetcar between Brooklyn and Queens may be in trouble.  One source of trouble is the funding and the second may be the opposition form neighborhood residents and groups.  This may have been predicted.  One trouble source may be the cost of relocating utilities along the many mile right of way.  Why utilities should be relocated if new streetcar tracks do not need to have a base very deep into he ground is a question that I have.  This point killed the proposed 42nd Street Light Rail Line around 1994?   Other bad news, or lack of news, is that of the proposed trolleybus systems for Spokane, Washington and Montreal Quebec.    I think these proposals are dead because the away from the wire technology using batteries and capacitors is really advancing. Who needs wires anymore?  So systems buy battery buses.  The proposed trolley bus system for Leeds in England died about a year ago as well.

For establishing a new streetcar system or line for an area that is hostile towards electric transit or did not have it for many years, I would:

  1. Start with a very small line.
  2. The line should be a very strong feeder to a subway line where no other transportation is available except feed in bus lines.
  3. Development of real estate should not be a factor.  They can be used in built up areas.
  4. The new line should be marketed for efficiency in terms of moving people at a low cost, lower than that of diesel or battery buses.
  5. The new line should be somewhat grade separated from other traffic.
  6. The new line should not be expensive and have  not have all the bells and whistles.  A simple on surface stations should be available will a small canopy.
  7. If possible, used equipment should be used to emphasize low cost and efficiency,  New equipment can come later.
  8. The line should not block the view ( wires ) of  people who are hostile towards any type of wires.
  9. Modern streetcars are much more comfortable than any type of bus.  Conversion of diesel bus lines to streetcar should be put forth on the basis of efficiency, environment and passenger comfort.
  10. If possible, a streetcar line should feed seamlessly into existing heavy rail, such as found in Toronto.  Streetcars at some terminals dive underground and meet heavy rail at platform level for easy transfer between modes.  This can be very expensive for cities like New York.  A candidate would be the Essex Delancey former trolley terminal in the Lower East Side.  Do not use this hidden facility as a park but make it into a trolley terminal for streetcars going over the bridge.  This will help out when the "L' train tubes close down for repairs.
  11. Candidates may be: Streetcars at Pelham Bay Park station (6)  to Co-op City.
  12. End of Queens rapid transit lines:  179th Street Jamaica, Parsons-Archer.
  13. Staten Island routes and former North Shore Line.
  14. Central Bronx:  Former right of way of the Third Avenue El.
  15. Brooklyn:  Pennsylvania Avenue, Nostrand Avenue at Brooklyn College
  16. Lower East Side Manhattan access via a far east avenue to Union Square or 14th Street.

A Comment:
    Earth Day has been around for almost 50 years.  This year we celebrate it on April 22, 2017.
Of course, the City of New York, the various mayors that we had during this time and the Transit Authority are pro environment.  How come rarely or perhaps never, modern streetcars and trolleybuses were proposed as an efficient way to deal with the environment?  There are hundreds of bus lines in New York City; certainly at least one of them meets the criteria from an objective engineering viewpoint to be a good candidate for conversion into trolleybus or streetcar, not because of development but because of efficiency and comfort.

Tramway Null(0)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Look at This:

From Southern Brooklyn Scrap Book

This great photo was taken in 1941.  It shows that the incline to the IND subway to Church Avenue was in place and some of the steel structure was in place, but no steel structure was connected to the BMT Culver Line.  Pictures around 1954 shows that the northbound local IND track was connected to the BMT Culver structure south of Ditmas Avenue, near the signal and workmen shown above.  Notice the trolley line poles to the right on McDonald Avenue.  They were there since the Culver Line was electrified on the surface.  The BMT structure dates from 1919 so the poles were out of service from 1919 to at least 1941.  More to tell you later.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

From Southern Brooklyn Scrapbook

 The same location, years later, but the bus is headed to New Utrecht Avenue.

Hi Folks:

  I found by accident a great blog called "Southern Brooklyn  Scrapbook" while its' main focus is not rapid transit, it has a lot of interesting pictures that I did not see before.  Right above is a B-23 Cortelyou Road trolleybus just about to pass under the Culver El.  I believe it is dated 1941.  This style of trolleybus was replaced by newer ones in 1948.  Under the Culver El is the South Brooklyn RR tracks as well.  Notice the wooden protect boards above.  38th Street Park is in the background.  The trolleybus is headed towards Flatbush Avenue

Friday, February 3, 2017

Was this Taken at Avenue "N"?

ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (still image) View from the N Street station, (1954) }} |author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=February 3, 2017 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lennox, and Tilden Foundation}}</ref>

This photo was taken by Max Hubacher in 1954 and was obtained from the source above.  I do not believe that this is the view from the Avenue "N" station because you will see some interesting items.  Incidentally, you are seeing a southbound BMT Culver Line train composed of BMT Standard cars,  I think the B Types with roof vents.  The "S & M Plumbing & Heating Supplies" I believe is right at the private right of way of the Bay Ridge Division LIRR.  At that time, this branch operated with overhead high voltage wires and you can see the silver painted high tension wire support to the left of the train.  I believe part of that support may exist today and you can see it while looking out the west side of a southbound "F" train.  I believe that behind the train you can see the double platform 18th Avenue station.  The high wire support raised the high tension wires above the level of the Culver Line.  Notice the small yard to the left.  I believe that I may have seen a map years ago showing this.  This site today is occupied by "Amazing Savings" and other big stores near the Avenue "I" station.  The building dealing with plumbing supplies I believe still exists and has been refurnished.  The only electric transportation in this area is only the present day "F" train.  The LIRR pulled the plug on overhead power at this location many decades ago and the wires for the South Brooklyn Railroad and McDonald Avenue Trolley were gone by 1965. The tracks under the el lingered for a few more decades but were removed within the last twenty years because they were said to be hazard to motorists.
The map below comes from a great South Brooklyn RR site and shows the Parkville interchange.
ca. 1920 - ca. 1959 
R. Emery map
courtesy of S. Lynch
(modified by author and reoriented for north)

added 11 Dec 2009

Is that the freight house in the left bottom corner?

Thanks so much for the map below from the link below!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Eastbound Church Avenue PCC car at 39th Street and 13th Avenue Brooklyn

Hi Folks:
  The photo below comes from the source below, namely the New York Public Library Digital Collection and it is a
 1952 Hubacher personal photograph.

This east bound  PCC car bond for Bristol Street is about to swing left unto 13th Avenue.  Across

 39th Street to the left is the City of New York Retail Market built in the 1930's.
  I was inside that building when there was a harbor disaster in December, 1956 (Luchenbach Explosion)
.Notice the buildings to the rear of the streetcar.  This may have been a commercial laundry and when the explosion
 hit in 1956, many of these windows broke and glass fell to the street.   I am not sure if anyone was hurt.
 The corner store to the right of the photo was a fresh fruit and vegetable store.
  You would be surprised how fast, before the age of hand held calculators, the salespersons, using a thick black
 crayon were able to calculate the price for each customer
with multi bags of vegetables in a few seconds.

Brooklyn, N.Y. [13th Avenue and 39th Street]

Hubacher, Max Henry, 1900-1989 (Photographer)
Date Created: 1952
Date Issued: 1970-09
Place: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy
Shelf locator: AZ 13-3600
Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Trolley cars
Local transit
Date: Photo enlargement made Sept. 1970
Still image
MSS Unit ID: 22378
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19892408
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 9254c880-864d-0133-be8b-00505686a51c
Photo by: Max H. Hubacher
The New York Public Library holds or manages the copyright(s) in this item. If you need information about reusing this item, please go to: