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Newark City Subway
Album

Car 25 in Bicentennial livery, circa 1970s.
DuPuis collection; from an anonymous collector.
Newark City Subway PCC Cars:
Roster and Origins
Newark Fleet NumbersTCRT Fleet NumbersBuilderYearNotes
1-20320-339St. Louis Car19461,2,3
21-25360-364St. Louis Car1947 1
26-30415-419St. Louis Car19491,2,3

NOTES:
1. All cars are of the post-war, all-electric design, with a seating capacity of 55.
2. Cars 8, 18, 29 and 30 scrapped.
3. Cars 3 and 27 sold to Cleveland, 1978; now preserved by Minnesota Transportation Museum as TCRT nos. 322 and 416, respectively.

MINNESOTA'S LOSS WAS NEWARK'S GAIN

Newark's PCC cars began their long careers with the Twin City Rapid Transit Company, which served Minnesota's Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St.Paul and the surrounding area. TCRT acquired 141 PCCs between 1945 and 1949, but their service in Minnesota was short-lived; all had been sold prior to the end of TCRT streetcar service in 1954.

TCRT's first PCC, delivered in January 1945, was built by the St. Louis Car Company as a member of Pittsburgh's 1500-series, but diverted to Minnesota so TCRT could test one of the modern cars. The tram entered service the following month wearing Pittsburgh Railways' red and cream livery and carrying Pittsburgh number 1547. Well pleased, TCRT bought the car, rechristening it 299 and repainting the car in TCRT's yellow and green livery. St. Louis Car built a replacement 1547 for Pittsburgh.

That same year, TCRT placed an order for 40 all-electric post-war PCCs which were delivered between December 1946 and January 1947. Numbered 300-339, cars 300-319 came equipped with Westinghouse electrical equipment, while 320-339 had General Electric motors. All cars in the series were 46'5" long and 9' wide. Initially equipped for two-man operation, conversion to one-man operation increased seating capacity from 53 to 55.

TCRT's next, 50-car order was placed later in 1945, but due to backlogs at St. Louis Car deliveries did not begin until August 1947. Numbered 340-389, these were identical to 300-339. As with the first order, half came with GE electrical equipment (340-364) and half with Westinghouse equipment (365-389).

The Twin Cities' final PCC order was placed in 1947 and delivered between May and July of 1949. Identical to the previous two orders, cars 390-439 also were evenly split between Westinghouse (390-414) and GE (415-439) motors and controls. They were converted to one-man operation in 1951.

New management took over TCRT in 1949, and quickly embarked on a plan to replace streetcars with buses. The deed was done between 1950 and June 18, 1954, when the last trams ran. The Twin Cities' legions of long deck-roofed streetcars would mostly meet the torch, but management did successfully find buyers for its virtually new PCCs, selling the cars at bargain prices.

Mexico City's Servicio de Transportes Electricos del Distrito Federal was the big winner, purchasing all Westinghouse-equipped cars (299, 300-319, 365-389, 390-414) and the last 20 GE cars (420-439). The wide cars were ideally suited to operation on the Mexican capital's wide boulevards and private rights-of-way.

Because of the cars' width, they were ill-suited to cities with narrow clearances and crowded street-running lines. Two U.S. systems with off-street pre-LRT operations had ample clearances and adequate passenger demand for the wide-bodied cars. Cleveland's Shaker Heights Rapid Transit bought 20 GE cars (340-359) for use on its high-speed trolley lines, rebuilding most of them for multiple-unit operation.

And then there was Newark. The City Subway, opened in 1935, had played host to a number of surface streetcar lines which used the subway for quick access to and from downtown Newark. By 1952, the last of these lines had been converted to buses. Only route 7 CITY SUBWAY, which ran the length of the subway's off-street trackage, remained. During the early '50s, operator Public Service Coordinated Transport considered repaving the line for use by its All Service Vehicles (ASVs), which operated as trolley buses in central city areas, swtiching over to diesel propulsion in outlying areas. These curious hybrids, forerunners of Seattle's dual-mode tunnel buses, had been used in New Jersey for a number of years, but were soon to be replaced by conventional diesel buses.

But TCRT's PCC fire sale presented a tempting opportunity. For only $350,000, PSCT could purchase 30 slightly used PCCs built between 1946 and 1949, replacing the City Subway's aging deck roofed trolleys with attractive modern cars that were fast, efficient and comfortable. Cheaper than paving the line, the new cars proved to be its rebirth and salvation.

Both parties got what they believed they wanted. Despite the low selling price, TCRT was more than happy to have quick cash for new buses, which were cheaper than trams; total PCC sales netted the company more than a million dollars. Newark, meanwhile, got 30 shiny PCCs (TCRT 320-339, 360-364, 415-419) which were shipped east in 1953. Renumbered 1-30 and repainted in a striking livery of grey and white with blue stripes, they cut an attractive figure alongside the subway's dowdy conventional cars.

Car 3 in Newark, circa early 1970s. It is still in PSNJ colors, but has an early NJT logo.
DuPuis collection; from an anonymous collector.
Newark car 3, nee TCRT 322, seen as restored at the Minnesota Transportation Museum.
Photos courtesy Jim Vaitkunas, General Superintendent,
MTM Como-Harriet Streetcar Line.

Yeomen of the Guard

Nearly a half-century later, 24 of Newark's 30 cars remained active, holding down schedules until the line could be rebuilt for operation by long, low-floor Kinki Sharyo LRVs. Four of the lost cars (8, 18, 29 and 30) had earlier been scrapped, while two (3 and 27) were sold to Cleveland's Regional Transit Authority in 1978 for Shaker Heights Service.

In 1990, 3 and 27 were acquired by the Minnesota Transportation Museum and headed home to the Twin Cities. Restoration of car 3 as TCRT car 322 began in 1991, and the car was essentially complete by 2000. At this writing, car 27, nee TCRT 416, remains unrestored and in storage.

Back in Newark, early 2001 witnessed the restoration of car 6 to PSCT's grey white and blue livery in preparation for anticipated PCC farewell ceremonies.

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