Here we are again, just in time for the holiday season, bringing many gifts. Like our last post (Reader Showcase, 11-30-17) we are featuring contributions recently sent in by our readers. These include some rare traction shots.
Again, our thanks go out to Jack Bejna, Kenneth Gear, and Larry Sakar for their great contributions and hard work.
In addition, just to keep a hand in, I have added some of our own recent finds that you may enjoy.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
Kenneth Gear shared some additional photos from the collections of the late William A. Steventon of the Railroad Record Club:
Jack Bejna writes:
I got back to work on my CA&E project and here are some shots of the final order of steel cars. In many cases I have more than one shot of individual cars so if you need any more images I may be able to help. This group of cars completes my coverage of CA&E’s fleet of passenger cars. I’ll move on to the freight motors and other miscellaneous cars that the railroad owned.
In 1941, CA&E ordered 10 new cars (451-460) from the St. Louis Car Company. This final order was not delivered until October 1945, after World War II ended. The new cars were compatible (and could train) with the Pullman and Cincinnati cars, and were used for all types of service. These cars were lighter and included many improvements.
I know our readers appreciate your fine work, and we will be glad to share any and all images you want to share with us. Thanks again.
Larry Sakar writes:
I was going thru my Milwaukee streetcar photos and ran across the one and only shot I got of the 978 in San Francisco. I had to climb on to this concrete wall in front of the yard and hold on to the cyclone fence with one hand and snap the picture with the other. The ledge was quite narrow.
Here is some valuable background for the Los Angeles streetcar and Pacific Electric Railway material. (Editor’s Note: See our previous post Reader Showcase, 11-30-17.
The Los Angeles Railway company operated a large network of streetcar Ines covering every part of Los Angeles. Los Angeles’ streetcar system was a cable railway in its early beginnings, which accounts for the fact that it was narrow gauge for its entire existence. On a number of streets in downtown LA, both the Pacific Electric and LARY operated on the same tracks. In those instances, there were three versus the standard two rails. Both lines shared the outer rail, but LA Railway cars had their own second rail “farther in”.
By the turnoff the 20th Century, the LA system was acquired by the great Henry Huntington. Huntington was the nephew of Collis P. Huntington, one of the big four involved in the creation of the transcontinental railway along with other eventual luminaries like Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford, and Theodore Judah. Huntington headed the Central Pacific RR which ultimately became the Southern Pacific RR. The Pacific Electric RR was a wholly owned subsidiary of the SP, as were the Interurban Electric RR and Northwestern Pacific RR in the San Francisco Bay area. Henry Huntington transformed the former cable railway into the magnificent Los Angeles Railways Co. He was also the President and CEO of the Pacific Electric Railway, often referred to as “the interurban that helped build southern California.”
As was the case in so many cities, the rise of the private automobile began to take a toll on the streetcar lines, until the outbreak of WWII on December 7, 1941. Every available car was pressed into service. By the war’s end in 1945, the LA streetcar system was in need of renovation. Although both LARY and PE purchased new PCC cars, they could not overcome the post war turn towards freeways. PE’s right-of-way was beset with numerous additional grade crossings thus making the cars slower than competing automobiles and buses. By 1950 the LA Freeway system was knocking at PE’s door. there was little doubt of the eventual outcome. It remained only a matter of when PE would finally be killed off by the highway interests and one other well known menace, National City Lines.
First to succumb to the rail-destroying conglomerate (NCL) was LARY sold by Henry Huntington’s heirs in 1945. The company was renamed Los Angeles Transit Lines and equipment wore the well-known NCL “fruit salad” colors of yellow, green and white. Remarkably the LA system outlasted both Chicago and Milwaukee, abandoning the final five streetcar lines in March 1963. Some of the older equipment, like the sow bellies and Huntington Standard streetcars, were acquired by museums and one was “preserved” at the Travel Town Museum in LA’s Griffith Park. Several LARY PCCs also went to the Orange Empire Trolley Museum in Perris, CA. The remaining and newest PCCs were sold to Cairo, Egypt in 1963.
PE fared no better. Interurban lines on each of the four operating districts, as PE called them, (designated by direction) were abandoned even before the company was sold to bus operator Metropolitan Coach lines in 1953. Supposedly, MCL owner Jesse Haugh, a former officer with Pacific City lines (an NCL company), nearly had a heart attack when he saw the MCL emblem on the PE Interurban cars.
In 1958, both LATL and PE became part of the newly created Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority. But the MTA was, in reality, nothing more than a continuation of the pro-bus MCL/LATL managements. The two-tone green colors of the MTA were the colors of Metropolitan Coach Lines. The last PE line (to Long Beach) went to its grave in April 1961.
As stated previously, streetcar service under the MTA continued until March of 1963. Some of PE’s older 1200-series interurbans and all 20 of the Pullman built PCCs were sold to the General Urguiza Railway in 1959. Four years of storage in the damp, abandoned Hollywood subway brought an early end to their second lives in Argentina.
But the worst insult to transit came next. In 1963, the LAMTA became the SCRTD, Southern California Rapid Transit District. Never has a bus system been so misnamed. There was absolutely nothing “rapid transit” about it!
But when all hoped for California to wake up and return to its past, a transit revolution took place down the California Coast. A brand new light rail line was opened in San Diego in 1980. Known as the San Diego Trolley, it would start a transit revolution that rocked California. True, BART started up in the San Francisco Bay area in 1972, but San Francisco never lost touch with the streetcar the way LA did.
By 1990, LA was beginning to rise out of the dense smog that blanketed the area on a daily basis. It was then that the newly formed Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Commission opened its first light rail line, the Blue Line running between downtown LA and Long Beach via the right of way once used by the PE red cars. The line begins in a subway that one connects with via the LA METRO Red Line subway from LAUPT, Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (Amtrak and Metrolink Commuter Rail).
Since then, two additional former PE lines to Pasadena and Santa Monica have been rebuilt and placed in service. Diesel commuter rail service, operated by Metrolink, serves other points once served by PE such as Glendale and Burbank. The service extends all the way up the California Coast to San Luis Obispo and south to Oceanside. Here, one can take the frequent trains on Amtrak’s San Diego Surfliner route or the commuter train from Oceanside to San Diego known as the Coaster. The Coaster operates equipment that resembles Toronto’s GO Transit system. Perhaps they are the same type of cars. Somebody familiar with both systems will undoubtedly know.
I went into my timetables and documents collection and found the 1983 San Francisco Historic Streetcar Festival brochure which pictured the cars that were going to operate. You’ll see that TM 978 was one of them. I had to scan it in part and then move it slightly to get the rest of it scanned as it was too long for my screen. I found some interesting things in my timetables and transfers that you are welcome to post if you wish.
San Francisco MUNI Part 3 by Larry Sakar
(Editor’s note: Parts 1 and 2 appeared in our last post, referenced above.)
SAN FRANCISCO MUNICIPAL RAILWAY STREETCAR LINES
The San Francisco Municipal Railway operates 8 streetcar lines. Although that may seem like a substantial number of streetcar lines, it is a fraction of the streetcar lines that once operated in the city by the Golden Gate. The 8 lines serve nearly every part of San Francisco. Within the last few years MUNI was reorganized into the SFMTA –San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency. The Market Street Railway which owns the historic streetcars is not a part of MUNI and receives no transit funding.
The Municipal Railway or MUNI for short uses letters rather than route numbers to identify the streetcar lines. Of course with the exception of the F-Line all of the other routes used modern Light Rail Vehicles with brand new cars now arriving and undergoing testing. The 8 lines are as follows:
E-Embarcadero (south of Market to Cal Train station)
F-Market St. & Wharves
All trains entering the “downtown” area operate in the Market Street subway (with the exception of the E, F & T lines) to the end of the MUNI subway at Embarcadero station. The Market Street subway is a two-level tube. MUNI streetcars operate on the upper level with BART trains running in the lower tube. The MUNI subway ends at Embarcadero station but BART continues across the bay in a subway laid on the floor of the bay. The tube runs relatively close to the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge.
In the opposite direction BART turns off toward Daly City and eventually Milbrae and the line to San Francisco International Airport. However, they are still in close proximity at the BART Balboa Park station which is near the Curtis Green Light Rail facility. Let’s take a ride on MUNI:
Before the Market St. subway was built, streetcars operated down the center of Market St. from 1st to Duboce, where they turned off and entered the Twin Peaks tunnel. It is one of two streetcar tunnels, the other being the Sunset tunnel.
1-3. I took the first three photos in late December 1973. If it looks like the car is running the wrong way that’s because it is. Long before passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, protestors decided to call attention to their plight by blocking the tracks on Market Street. PCCs put up their rear poles and ran the wrong way back down Market Street. At least two of the cars seen here were the 1006 thru 1015, which were double ended cars. Note the differing paint schemes between the PCCs.
4. We have operated thru the Twin Peaks tunnel and have arrived at West Portal station. This was the point where the various routes diverged and remains so today. The station was completely rebuilt when the LRVs took over from the PCCs and no longer looks like this.
5. This is the interior of one of the double ended PCCs.
6-7: By 1983 when I took these next two pictures the PCCs had been replaced by new Boeing-Vertol LRVs. The Boeing cars had many problems. When the new F-Market surface line opened in 1995, commuters flocked to the surface cars to avoid the delays caused by malfunctioning Boeing cars in the subway.
8. An interior view of one of the Boeing LRVs, which were articulated. Unlike TMER&L, who assigned numbers to each car of their articulated streetcars and interurbans, MUNI LRVs carried the same car number on each end, with one designated as “A” and the other “B”.
9-10: The Boeing LRVs were replaced by new LRVs built by BREDA. I don’t especially like the boxy looking front end of these cars. When I was in San Francisco on August 5th & 6th of this year (2017), MUNI was testing brand new LRVs which will replace the BREDA cars.
11-13: Three interior views of the BREDA LRVs. Like the Boeing cars before them, these cars have a unique but necessary feature. While operating thru the Market Street subway, steps are not needed as the floors are at platform height. As the cars depart West Portal station a warning bell goes off and a red light begins to flash. The floor then descends to reveal the steps needed to enter the cars from the city streets over which they operate. The door in the rear car has permitted fare cheaters to escape paying a fare. I saw school kids at various stops watch for that door to open. One would then jump in, thus blocking it from closing, while his cohorts scrambled aboard without paying a fare. The motorman was probably well aware of it, but knew better than to challenge the cheaters and risk potential assault. It surprises me that MUNI does not assign undercover personnel to catch these brats in the act.
14-17: This is the Curtis Green Light Rail Center near Balboa Park.
18. A BREDA two-car train lays over in front of the old Geneva car house. Look between the UPS truck and the train, and you’ll see that the old car house is fenced off. The building suffered extensive damage in the 1989 earthquake. MUNI plans to restore it when funding permits. The M-Ocean View, K-Ingleside and J-Church light rail lines all meet here.
19-22: Without question is MUNI’s most scenic streetcar line is the J-Church. A portion of the line operates on private right-of-way along the western edge of Mission Dolores park providing a spectacular view of San Francisco.
Chicago Rapid Transit Door Control on 4000s
As late as 1950, the Chicago Transit Authority, which took over the Chicago Rapid Transit Company in 1947, was still using a very old-fashioned and labor-intensive method of door control on its 4000-series “L” cars, which were built between 1913 and 1924.
CRT had been unable to invest in more modern methods, which had been introduced in New York in the early 1920s, due to its lack of capital. Ironically, such an investment in multiple-unit door control (with a starting signal supplied to the motorman) would have saved CRT a great deal in labor costs.
If you’ve ever wondered how the old system worked, here is a detailed explanation from a rare 1950 CTA training brochure. Conductors rode outside between cars, even on some of the newer post-World War II rapid transit cars, before the conductor’s position was moved to a greater place of comfort and safety inside the new “married pairs” of cars.
This brochure suggests that as of March 1950, all 4000-series rapid transit cars had been made into semi-married pairs. As built, they were all single-car units. The last single car units (the 1-50 series) were built for the CTA in 1960.
Here is a real curiosity. Reading this 1954 brochure through, you might at first think it is simply encouraging people to ride the CTA in order to save a few pennies.
However, as the text goes on, it becomes an argument in favor of the CTA’s “PCC Conversion Program,” whereby 570 fairly new postwar PCC streetcars were scrapped, and some of their parts were used to build a like number of 6000-series rapid transit cars.
The cost of a rapid transit car with all new parts is quoted as $50-60k, while St. Louis Car Company offered to build them for just $32,332 each. Thus a savings between $17-27k per car is implied.
After doing some research, I eventually found a CTA document that gives the actual costs incurred. The first 250 curved-door 6000s, with some recycled parts, actually cost the CTA $54,727.64 apiece.
From this, two conclusions can be drawn. First, that the contract between CTA and SLCC allowed for price adjustments that increased costs by more than 67% over the bid price.
Second, that the PCC Conversion Program did not actually save the CTA between $17-27k as was implied in this brochure (and similar figures claimed elsewhere). Since the cost of the previous order for one hundred 6000s with all new parts was $40,904.01, somehow the cost per car actually increased by nearly $14k per unit.
The difference can be explained in how the program worked. Over time, CTA sold 570 PCCs to SLCC for $14k each. This figure is confirmed on page 13 of the 1961 CTA Annual Report. Meanwhile, the cost for each new rapid transit car ordered appears to have increased by approximately the same amount, at least for the first 250 cars ordered under this arrangement.
The cost per car for subsequent rapid transit car orders, in general, shows a gradual increase. 120 cars purchased in 1957 had a cost of $59,368.84 per car, or $4,600 higher than the first 250.
Perhaps part of this increase is due to inflation, but it is likely that the age and condition of the parts being recycled was another factor.
In light of this, a case can be made that, from a materials standpoint in constructing 570 rapid transit cars, this program did not save any money at all, compared to what it would have cost to build the same number of vehicles with all new parts. In fact, since the recycled parts were not new, chances are the program was a disadvantage, as old parts cannot last as long, or serve as well, compared to new.
The actual goal, it would seem, of the PCC Conversion Program, was to get rid of the PCC streetcars in such a way as to take them off the books without showing a loss compared to their depreciated value. The 570 cars involved were between five and ten years old when scrapped. As we know, there are PCCs that are still being used in regular service by a few transit systems. The newest of these were built 65 years ago.
The CTA had other reasons for wanting to eliminate even the modern PCC streetcars. Curiously, the costs of maintaining track and wire were not cited in any of the various documents I have seen.
On the other hand, the 1951 DeLeuw, Cather consultant’s report recommended that CTA not buy any additional electric vehicles, streetcar or trolley bus, due to the supposed high cost of electricity purchased from Commonwealth Edison. As it turned out, no additional electric vehicles were purchased for the surface system until the recent experiments with battery powered buses.
CTA saved money by eliminating two-man streetcars, through reduced labor costs, but the CTA Board was told in 1954 not to expect any further savings in this regard (after the elimination of red car service). The reasons may be two-fold: in some cases, on the heaviest lines, it was likely advantageous to use two-man PCCs, and some PCCs had been converted to one-man operation, or could be used either way.
The Chicago Transit Authority had an decade-long flirtation with propane buses during the 1950s. Propane was then quite cheap, but the buses so used were severely under-powered and had difficulty maintaining schedules. The service thus provided on the surface system by such buses was of lower quality than the PCC streetcars and may have contributed to continued ridership losses on the surface system in the late 1950s.
One can argue that it might have actually worked to CTA’s advantage to continue operating the PCCs instead of scrapping them.
Railroad Record Club News
Additional tracks have been added to two of our Railroad Record Club CD releases, which are available through our Online Store.
An additional 11:24 has been added to this disc, which now has a running time of 75:41. Source: The Silverton Train (Your Sound of Steam Souvenir #2, 1964).
We recently obtained another handmade Railroad Record Club acetate disc with some new material on it, which has been added to our RRC Steam Rarities CD. One more track from the East Broad Top has been added, and the Illinois Central track has been improved. The new running time for this disc is 76:34.
Check out our new book Chicago Trolleys. Signed copies are available through our Online Store.
HOLIDAY SPECIAL! This book makes an excellent gift. For a limited time only, we have reduced the price to just $17.99 plus shipping. That’s $4.00 off the regular price.
Help Support The Trolley Dodger
This is our 202nd post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 347,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.
You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.
As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”
We thank you for your support.
In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.
Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.