It has been 60 years now since Milwaukee had a streetcar line, but that will soon change as its new line, christened The Hop, is expected to begin operating this November. Milwaukee officials held an open house on June 8th at the new maintenance facility, where two new streetcars, built by Brookville Equipment Corporation were on display– and your roving reporter was there.
Ultimately, there will be five vehicles to start, and they are being delivered at the rate of about one per month. From the looks of things, it may be another month or so before testing begins along the line.
The day after the open house, we drove around, taking numerous pictures that we hope will gave you an idea of how track work is progressing. Not all portions of the route will use overhead wire, as modern streetcars have batteries too.
Finally, on Sunday the 10th, we journeyed to the East Troy Electric Railroad, where we were fortunate to ride Milwaukee streetcar #846 for the first time. While 60 years may separate the running of the old and the new, there’s nearly a century between lightweight “safety” car 846, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1920, and its modern equivalent.
That just goes to show how much our expectations of what a streetcar should be have changed and grown over the last 100 years. We expect better safety, performance, comfort, and accessibility than our grandparents and great-grandparents did.
When the new Milwaukee streetcar was first proposed, there were plenty of nay-sayers who thought it was a useless idea, didn’t go anywhere, was pointless, and that no one would ride it. But as the time draws near to actual operations, many of these same people have changed their tune. While modern streetcar lines may not work for all cities, or even some cities that have started them, I feel confidant that Milwaukee’s will be successful.
We hope these photos will give you the “flavor of the event.”
PS- Our congratulations go out to Russ Schultz, who has for some years been driving a bus for the Milwaukee public transit system. He will now cap off his career as one of The Hop’s new streetcar operators.
Handouts from the Open House:
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