APTA Streetcar and
Seashore Trolley Museum Logo
Heritage Trolley Site
Hosted by the Seashore Trolley Museum
Philadelphia - June 2005

[Back to Philadelphia]

Philadelphia  –  Getting Rt. 15 Running

Rail Transit Online, June 2005

Restoration of streetcar service on SEPTA’s Rt. 15-Girard Avenue may finally occur more than a year after an $85-million project to reconstruct the trackway and traction power system was completed.  Eighteen rebuilt PCCs have remained in storage and the line unused because a minor Democratic Party political leader and a city councilman had refused to allow elimination of parking on one side of 59th Street, which leads from Girard to Callowhill Depot where the trolleys are to be stored.  Parking on both sides of the street provides insufficient clearance for the streetcars.  Up to now, the mayor and other high-ranking city officials have been unwilling to stand up against the councilman, Michael Nutter, and ward leader Carol Campbell.  A proposed compromise to make the street one-way was rejected. 


But after some unflattering press coverage of the dispute and a “free the trolleys” petition from business owners along Girard Avenue, Mayor John F. Street announced at a June 16 news conference that he was ready to act, possibly even towing the cars blocking the trolleys.  Four days later, local congressman Rep. Bob Brady, who is also chairman of the Democratic City Committee, held a private meeting with the top political players in the melodrama.  Among them was SEPTA Board Chairman Pat Deon, who afterwards said it was his goal to have Rt. 15 “…operational by the end of the summer.”  The original opening date was June 13, 2004.  The further delay is caused by the need to transfer the PCCs from the Elmwood yard, where they are now stored, to Callowhill Depot and the printing of timetables.  Also, the signup clause in SEPTA’s labor contract requires that work assignments be selected by employees based on seniority.  In exchange for obtaining PCC access to Callowhill, SEPTA has promised to be a better neighbor by cleaning up the depot property and putting in some landscaping.  The transit agency will also seek to discourage employees from using scarce parking spaces on surrounding streets.


[Back to Philadelphia]