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Philadelphia - January 2001
   

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Philadelphia  –  PCCs Ride Again

Rail Transit Online, January 2001

Philadelphia appears to be on the brink of bringing PCC cars back to its streets on a regular basis, adding to the growing number of cities turning to these venerable but reliable vehicles for heavy-duty transit service.  SEPTA has invited bids for the refurbishing of 18 stored PCCs to equip Route 15-Girard, which was “temporarily” converted from trolleys to buses in 1992.  City officials promised that streetcars would return when the right-of-way was upgraded and new equipment provided.  The project dragged on for a number of reasons, including a lack of funding.  Finally, SEPTA proposed purchasing a fleet of low floor LRVs for its subway-surface streetcar lines, allowing the release of some existing Kawasaki cars for the 8.2-mile Girard route.  But with the cost of new vehicles in the $3 million range, SEPTA decided instead to remanufacture the PCCs for about $1 million each, part of the high cost attributed to a requirement for wheelchair lifts and air conditioning.  Several firms have reportedly expressed interest in the project and a contract may be awarded soon.  Meanwhile, work on renewal of track and overhead wire is already underway. Improvements will include the use of exclusive ROW where possible and redesigned stops that will speed boarding and alighting.  The design phase was completed in November 1999 and construction has just gotten underway, with completion scheduled during the first quarter of 2002.  Rail service is expected to draw more riders than buses and will help redevelop impoverished neighborhoods in north and west Philadelphia.  

 

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