SEPTA's historic trolleys to return to Philadelphia's Girard Avenue

Wednesday, June 12, 2024
SEPTA's historic trolleys to return to Philadelphia's Girard Avenue
SEPTA's historic trolleys to return to Philadelphia's Girard Avenue

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- SEPTA's historic Girard Avenue trolleys are finally coming back on the tracks this weekend.

The restored 1947 trolleys, which provide service from Port Richmond to West Philadelphia along Route 15 on Girard Avenue, will be moving again starting June 16. The line makes 64 stops along 8.5 miles of tracks.

"People love them, they do. It brings back old memories of when they were kids and they would ride them, 'Oh I remember that I went to school on one of them!'" says SEPTA technician Michael Rogowski. "Everybody I talk to loves them. There isn't a person that doesn't. That's what makes it worth the while."

There are only a handful of cities in the nation where these classic green and cream PCC Presidents Conference Committee Trolleys still operate.

SEPTA took them off the tracks in 2020 for repairs. It took four years to complete the restoration.

SEPTA's historic Girard Avenue trollies are coming off the rails for 12-18 months for repairs.

"Over the last four years, SEPTA's dedicated workforce has meticulously taken apart and rebuilt the trolleys piece by piece," said the transit agency in a statement.

All the work to rebuild the eight trolly cars happened at the Woodland Avenue SEPTA shop. It took about 13,000 hours of manpower to restore each car, including rebuilding parts that are no longer manufactured.

"When we removed these cars from service for much-needed repairs, we had people along Girard Avenue wanting these cars back. They came to our board meetings just begging us, 'You have to put these cars back,'" said SEPTA COO Scott Sauser.

"We've upgraded interior seating area, the lighting, these are the things customers will notice, the floor is amazing," added Sauer.

On Wednesday, SEPTA gave a sneak peek at the classic trolley cars, which have been rebuilt, and spiffed up to maintain their gorgeous throwback design, while updating them for function for years to come.

"When you take a look at these trolleys when we start on them, then when we finish them -- it's amazing. There is a lot of pride in that," added David El, a SEPTA electronic technician.

Each trolley costs about $1 million to update. Two more cars will return to Route 15 by next spring.