Inside a modern-looking warehouse on the grounds of the Brookville Equipment Corp. (BEC), sounds of buzzing saws emanate as workers cut through the body of a streetcar that’s seen better days. Sitting next to it on the factory floor is an old yellow streetcar, polished to look new. It basically is. BEC is in the business of restoring old streetcars, which is a booming business these days -- America is experiencing a “streetcar revival,” as U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood calls it.
As reported in sister publication Governing magazine, streetcars, also called trolleys or trams, were a common sight in U.S. cities at the beginning of the 20th century. But by the 1960s, they had all but been forgotten, mostly replaced with buses. In 2001, Portland, Ore., revived them by opening a downtown line with brand-new cars. According to BEC transportation sales director Joel McNeil, some 40 cities in the U.S. and Canada are currently exploring or planning new systems. The American Public Transportation Association actually puts that number at more than 80.
Shown above is a streetcar, originally from New Jersey, that has been restored to its original colors. This particular streetcar will eventually end up in San Francisco, where old trolleys from around the country (and the globe) operate on a regular basis.
See more photos and read more about the streetcar revival at Governing magazine.
Photo by David Kidd