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Re: [FJGRailroad] Trolley Lines

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  • GINO DICARLO (QUAD GRAPHICS, SARATOGA)
    Aaron, The Washington Ave. bridge in Scotia was a big problem. It also made it necessary to stop Bullet travel scince they needed a loop to turn around. But
    Message 1 of 10 , Mar 22, 2000
      Aaron,

      The Washington Ave. bridge in Scotia was a big problem. It also made it
      necessary to stop Bullet travel scince they needed a loop to turn around.
      But even so, should that really have been a big problem to necesitate
      closing the line? What about the belt line 10 years before it? How much
      maintenance does trolley tracks require. Should I ask first if the roads
      in Gloversville were paved in '29, or was there just dirt roads? I am
      just wondering if running a bus line is so much cheaper than running a
      trolley line.

      Gino
    • Aaron Keller
      I m not the absolute best source for electric division information, but there were several blows to the line that necessitated abandonment. The FJ&G actually
      Message 2 of 10 , Mar 22, 2000
        I'm not the absolute best source for electric division information, but
        there were several blows to the line that necessitated abandonment. The
        FJ&G actually wanted to get rid of it much earlier than it actually did.
        The Public Service Commission forced FJ&G to keep it open. The main problem
        was automobile competition but there were other factors. Upkeep is a
        problem in railroads even today. For FJ&G, the biggest problem was that the
        trolley bridge from Scotia to Schenectady was condemned and FJ&G cars had to
        stop in Scotia. This was a problem for people wanting to travel to
        Schenectady (especially GE commuters). They had to take busses the last
        mile or so from Scotia to Schenectady/GE.

        About all I can offer off the top of my head... it's late and I have to do
        homework...

        -Aaron
      • GINO DICARLO (QUAD GRAPHICS, SARATOGA)
        Aaron, I didn t think about the whole tax issue. I can see that being a pain. As for the former Interurban right of way. Was that land sold to the state
        Message 3 of 10 , Mar 23, 2000
          Aaron,

          I didn't think about the whole tax issue. I can see that being a pain.
          As for the former Interurban right of way. Was that land sold to the state
          after abandonment? Did the FJF receive money for the right of way for
          highway construction and the what-not? Also, the second part of my initial
          question was if abandoning the line hurt when WWII hit...

          Gino
        • Aaron Keller
          Gino, The bridge was the excuse to close the line. The railroad wanted it out but couldn t find the right excuse that the NYS PSC would accept. You have to
          Message 4 of 10 , Mar 23, 2000
            Gino,

            The bridge was the excuse to close the line. The railroad wanted it out but
            couldn't find the right "excuse" that the NYS PSC would accept.

            You have to remember that the biggest cost of railroads these days is land
            taxes. Look at how Conrail was fighting the Village of Fonda about two or
            three years ago about tax assessment. Railroads are paying hundreds of
            thousands of dollars for each town they go through. Property taxes are a
            real pain. Many shortlines are now given tax exempt status.

            I'd venture to guess that the FJ&G just didn't want to pay for the up-keep
            of a long rail line when ridership didn't make the ends meet. Busses are
            way more inexpensive to operate because most of the costs are externalized.
            Busses operate on public highways (therefore no need for the company to buy
            the land the bus moves on). Busses operate with cheaper fuel, too; no need
            to purchase electricity or run a power plant.

            If the busses weren't cheaper, they wouldn't have switched. You have to
            remember that this was a business, and the bottom dollar was the bottom
            line. I believe I have annual reports concerning this stuff at home
            somewhere, if you're interested. I don't have a complete set but I have the
            years around the electric division scrapping.

            You also asked about street paving; I believe most of the roads were paved,
            at least with brick or cobblestones. They tore up (what's left of) Main St.
            in Amsterdam two years ago and the trolley tracks were still there. I
            should have taken pictures because who knows when you'll be able to see them
            again. They paved right over them again so they're still there...

            You can also see part of the Cayadutta Electric rails on the
            Fonda-Sammonsville road when you're heading out of Fonda.

            -Aaron
          • Aaron Keller
            I m not sure what the situation was with the land sale and scrapping procedures. I do know they got money for scrapping of equipment, metals, etc. I also
            Message 5 of 10 , Mar 23, 2000
              I'm not sure what the situation was with the land sale and scrapping
              procedures. I do know they got money for scrapping of equipment, metals,
              etc. I also don't know how much time elapsed between the last run and the
              actual scraping. A look into annual reports might offer some hints.

              I'm not sure WWII had any implications on the trolley line. Most of the war
              trains ran on the steam roads. I'd have to ask some relatives and friends
              who are war vets and see what the situation was. I believe most of them
              left from Gloversville or Fonda; maybe some from Schenectady. Trolley lines
              are "light rail" and certainly wouldn't have made much good hauling
              materials or supplies in bulk.

              -Aaron

              -----Original Message-----
              From: GINO DICARLO (QUAD GRAPHICS, SARATOGA) <gdicarlo@...>
              To: FJGRailroad@onelist.com <FJGRailroad@onelist.com>
              Date: Thursday, March 23, 2000 4:45 AM
              Subject: Re: [FJGRailroad] Trolley Lines


              >From: "GINO DICARLO (QUAD GRAPHICS, SARATOGA)" <gdicarlo@...>
              >
              >Aaron,
              >
              >I didn't think about the whole tax issue. I can see that being a pain.
              >As for the former Interurban right of way. Was that land sold to the state
              >after abandonment? Did the FJF receive money for the right of way for
              >highway construction and the what-not? Also, the second part of my initial
              >question was if abandoning the line hurt when WWII hit...
              >
              >Gino
            • paul larner
              This is off the top of my head, to much time to pull up the relevant citations right now: There is no question that the reduction in riders was a critical
              Message 6 of 10 , Mar 23, 2000
                This is off the top of my head, to much time to pull up the relevant
                citations right now:

                There is no question that the reduction in riders was a critical factor in
                all that the FJ&G did commencing prior to WWI. By 1914 the road was
                beginning to bleed and in hindsight one can make a case that the investment
                in trolleys was a mistake, if viewed for the sake of providing
                transportation. The automobile meant the demise of the regular "steam"
                passenger trains in 1922 and the ultimate abandonment of the trolley system.
                Regular steam passenger trains to Fonda ceased shortly after the
                consolidation, except for the summer season. From day one of the Northville
                line the passenger trains were mixed trains, again with the exception of the
                trains put on for the park traffic, and that didn't happen until around
                1890. North of Gloversville the road always had a hard time paying for
                itself without the Park traffic.

                Back to the trolleys: a major factor in the ultimate abandonment of the
                local services was that the repaving the city streets was coming due and the
                FJ&G had a franchise with each of the cities and towns that required
                contribution. As yet I have seen nothing to indicate taxes were a problem.
                In April 1933 the FJ&G succumbed to bankruptcy from the wounds inflicted by
                highway competition and it's debt structure. Expending monies to repave
                their portion of the streets would have hastened the demise. The Belt line
                and Fonda line went at approximately the same time. After about late 1929
                or early 1930 the Fonda line handled only baggage, mail and express, busses
                hauled the passengers. The belt line was busses and if I recall correctly
                the loal Johnstown service went to busses shortly thereafter. The Amsterdam
                belt line was cut, then the Hagaman line cut back, and finally replaced by
                busses.

                If the bridge were needed as an excuse for terminating the trolley service
                it could have happened years earlier. In 1928 there was consideration of
                what to do with the bridge and strong recommendations that trolley traffic
                be redirected. Auto traffic had already stopped using the bridge. The
                bridge had seven piers, three over 120 years old and the other four,
                intermediates over 100 years in 1928. At this time I cannot say what he
                state did to shore up the bridge for an additional ten years. They had
                assumed control of the bridge from the town of Glenville about 1919 and
                desired to get rid of it because it obstructed the Barge canal.

                The FJ&G started running busses between Gloversville and Schenectady via
                Fonda, to establish the routes and keep the competition out. These busses
                replaced some of the trolley trips. (I can't find the article or I'd give
                the date) They could not go into Schenectady, however. Passengers
                transferred in Scotia to the Schenectady Ry.

                I would not be surprised if the FJ&G officers were "giddy" when they slipped
                out from under the weight of the trolleys. The busses were economical and
                contributed to a profitable operation and subsequent reorganization. The
                Tribes Hill Power Plant was offerred for dismantling in the mid 1930s.

                My view is the debt load established for and immediately after the
                consolidation and extension to Schenectady is what did the company in. J.
                Ledlie should have known better, but I've been here before so it need not be
                reiterated.

                Details will follow.

                PKL



                >From: "GINO DICARLO (QUAD GRAPHICS, SARATOGA)" <gdicarlo@...>
                >Reply-To: FJGRailroad@onelist.com
                >To: FJGRAILROAD@...
                >Subject: [FJGRailroad] Trolley Lines
                >Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 22:04:42 -0500 (CDT)
                >
                >Hi guys,
                >
                >With the fuel prices soaring here, all I'm thinking of is trolley service.
                >I was wondering, was it really just dwindling ridership that closed the
                >belt-line and Schenectady interurban service? Those lines were replaced
                >with bus lines? What made it more economical to run buses instead of
                >trolleys? Was the upkeep of the right of ways the biggest factors? Did
                >abandoning the belt line in '38 seem premature when WWII came along? Did
                >the FJG wish it still had electric service when all the rationing hit?
                >Just something to think nd talk about...
                >
                >Gino
                >(back from maternity leave)

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              • GINO DICARLO (QUAD GRAPHICS, SARATOGA)
                Great summary Paul! I didn t realize what a big strain the trolley line was. How come trolleys are succesfull in some cities today? The San Diego trolley
                Message 7 of 10 , Mar 23, 2000
                  Great summary Paul! I didn't realize what a big strain the trolley line
                  was. How come trolleys are succesfull in some cities today? The San Diego
                  trolley has a great line and I beleive there is a trolley system in Buffalo!

                  Gino
                • paul larner
                  Several years ago, in my former life, I participated in a state-funded transportation study, re the future of transportation in the state - my field railroads
                  Message 8 of 10 , Mar 23, 2000
                    Several years ago, in my former life, I participated in a state-funded
                    transportation study, re the future of transportation in the state - my
                    field railroads obviously. And, of all places in rural VT. With regard to
                    commuter rail it was developed after study by some organization which is
                    nameless to me now, that to be profitable you need 10,000 people working in
                    a one mile square area.

                    There are a number of systems all over the U.S. today, subsidized by one
                    public agency or another. Looks at the NYC metropolitan area which has
                    excellent service but heavily subsidized. There is no profit in mass
                    transit from an insular business point of view. The profit is derived from
                    the benefits accruing to the general public who have chosen to pay, that is
                    tax themselves, to have the service. It is what enables the city to
                    maintain itself as a business and cultural area. We can work where the
                    action is and live in the country, or even beautiful Rensselaer County. Big
                    issue not able to be answered in fifty word or less.

                    Is there a mass transit system anywhere that is not subsidized today?

                    PKL



                    >From: "GINO DICARLO (QUAD GRAPHICS, SARATOGA)" <gdicarlo@...>
                    >Reply-To: FJGRailroad@onelist.com
                    >To: FJGRailroad@onelist.com
                    >Subject: Re: [FJGRailroad] Trolley Lines
                    >Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 19:42:04 -0500 (CDT)
                    >
                    >Great summary Paul! I didn't realize what a big strain the trolley line
                    >was. How come trolleys are succesfull in some cities today? The San Diego
                    >trolley has a great line and I beleive there is a trolley system in
                    >Buffalo!
                    >
                    >Gino

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                  • paul larner
                    Not to leave a misunderstanding here... The FJ&G trolley empire was tremendously successful when it was completed. The Cayadutta was successful. It was the
                    Message 9 of 10 , Mar 23, 2000
                      Not to leave a misunderstanding here... The FJ&G trolley empire was
                      tremendously successful when it was completed. The Cayadutta was
                      successful. It was the way to carry passengers, far superior to the
                      existing steam train service and more cost eficient. Convenient, frequent
                      and fast. But when the FJ&G was completed to Schenectady the automobile was
                      on the scene, though still a toy of the rich. But the young men of the FJ&G
                      had there mind's on selling electricity, real estate and making money;
                      somehow they didn't recognize how fast it would all evaporate or they would
                      have been into automotive development at this time. Even Alco was selling
                      automobiles in the first and second decades of the last century. In
                      retrospect while they were bold they were not far sighted.

                      The FJ&G was extraordinary in its promotion of events that would put people
                      in the cars or on the trains. They were good businessmen and they made
                      money while they could. Following the fortunes of the FJ&G owners is an
                      interesting project. All the big boys made money and they did work hard for
                      it.

                      PKL


                      >From: "GINO DICARLO (QUAD GRAPHICS, SARATOGA)" <gdicarlo@...>
                      >Reply-To: FJGRailroad@onelist.com
                      >To: FJGRailroad@onelist.com
                      >Subject: Re: [FJGRailroad] Trolley Lines
                      >Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 19:42:04 -0500 (CDT)
                      >
                      >Great summary Paul! I didn't realize what a big strain the trolley line
                      >was. How come trolleys are succesfull in some cities today? The San Diego
                      >trolley has a great line and I beleive there is a trolley system in
                      >Buffalo!
                      >
                      >Gino

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