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1690Re: [Gene_Londons_Cartoon_Corners] My desire for streetcars - with my rose colored glasses on

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  • mshapiro10
    Apr 24, 2012
      Check out the book
      Can't Go To Heaven on the Frankford El
      quite good & boy will that bring back memories
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: mykulmak
      Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 12:47 PM
      Subject: [Gene_Londons_Cartoon_Corners] My desire for streetcars - with my rose colored glasses on


      Greetings from Denver.

      It has been a long time since I (or anyone) has posted here, and though I do not have any GL related info/news, I thought I'd wax nostalgically about some fond memories riding PTC (Philadelphia Transportation Company, pre-SEPTA) trolleys (streetcars or trams in other parts of the world).

      The PTC beige and green trolleys (trackless trolleys and the Frankford El) were an adventure unto themselves. I wasn't as much as arriving at the destination (in my case usually a trip with my grandmother to do shopping in center city, or reach the far end of the line somewhere in West Philly to walk about), for me the fun was mostly about the transport. Riding these large, scary machines that floated thru the city. Having someone else drive, giving us the time to observe and enjoy watching our city and our fellow Philadelphians. I have great memories of the PTC: riding for free - kids under the age of 5? or trying to look under the age of 5 road for free?, getting a nickle transfers, watching the pole that captured the magic electricity from the above line(s), the noise of the trolley (or El) turning on its steel wheels, the fast moving underground trolley near 13th/15th (?) street and Market street - or points West, and best of all, going through underground tunnels to find the hidden trolley station.

      I write about trolleys (of all things!) because during a recent family visit to San Francisco I was transported (pardon the pun) back in time when I got to ride the amazingly restored trolleys/streetcars of the F line on Market Street (my route: the Financial District to Fisherman's Wharf-links below). The SF Muni transport company restored streetcars from mostly other American cities (as well as overseas trolley restoration: for example, Milan Italy, and Melbourne, Australia). These perfectly functioning, wonderful vehicles were literally euphoric for me to ride.

      So here is my Utopian bias (admittedly naive and flawed): Imagine a future where high-population, US cities will ban individually owned automobiles (with some exceptions: perhaps taxis, vehicles for the handicapped, and delivery vans/trucks). Instead, these cities will use a safe, environmentally clean public transport systems (bring back the trolleys make them ubiquitous) where wait times, anywhere within the city limits, is never more than 4 minutes. Using public transport would have your arrive at your destination faster than if you drove (no parking hassles -where to park, no payment for parking, remove the parking meters; no other traffic, lower overall costs (share the energy costs with your fellow passengers, no car depreciation or maintenance expense).

      Imagine US cities where one could walk to shopping, or entertainment - think of all the new space suddenly opening up on the streets, streets could become pedestrian walk ways with trails and plants. Could we transform our cities to being pedestrian friendly? Could we end the use of our current interstate parking lots? Who wants gridlock? Building new or wider roads for our cars is not the answer.

      I urge the return of trolleys/streetcars but there are probably better and more modern transport vehicles (mag-levs anyone?). Buses, with their route flexibility are probably good, yet they don't have the romantic lure of rail. The downside to trolleys? There are a few. Cobble stone streets are not car or bike friendly - are they need for trolleys? Probably not. Dedicated trolley lanes with safe rider access/egress and ADA compliance is important -but will add some costs. Rain and snow can make the tracks slick; yet public transport must be made clean and safe for both rider and pedestrians / bicyclists. San Francisco trolleys seemed to have overcome much of these concerns: trolley service there felt very clean, graffiti-free and seemed safe (all windows, overhead lights were functional and well maintained).

      Utopian rant now turned off :-)

      Here are a few links to ponder. Your thoughts?

      Enjoy !

      San Francisco:

      Street Cars:(beautiful) http://tinyurl.com/y8umcre
      Historic preservation (MUNI employees/volunteers) http://www.streetcar.org/

      Philadelphia's past glory:

      5th and Oxford, 1971 http://tinyurl.com/88ontl9
      Goodbye old friend (sad), 1977: http://tinyurl.com/6rlwz99

      Recent Enquirer trolley article:

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