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SEPTA seeks proposals to replace trolley cars

By | May 16, 2022

Agency seeks 100 new, larger cars; price estimated at $800 million

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Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority logo

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority logoPHILADELPIA — The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority has begun the process of replacing its 40-year-old Kawasaki trolley cars, issuing a request for proposals for 100 new rail vehicles.

WHYY reports the agency seeks larger vehicles, with a capacity of 65 as opposed to the current 45, and will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, with more room for wheelchairs and baby strollers among other features.

The new cars are expected to cost $800 million, as part of an overall upgrade project priced at $1.8 billion.

The new cars will also guarantee the return of rail service on the Route 15 line, currently being served by buses because of a shortage of equipment. That line has used SEPTA’s classic PCC trolleys dating to the 1950s, which are currently removed from service for refurbishment. The PCC cars could return by next year, a SEPTA spokesman told the station.

5 thoughts on “SEPTA seeks proposals to replace trolley cars

  1. “PCC cars could return by next year” The PCC cars in their 70’s will soldier on while the “youngster” Kawasaki cars will be ending a 40 year run…..Hmmmmm! Maybe ought to buy more PCC cars. San Francisco seems to be real happy with the ones they operate.

    1. Those Kawasaki cars aren’t classics like the PCCs. It’s like comparing a Chevy Corvair wagon to a 90’s Suburban. Also, the PCC’s have probably had at least one heavy rebuild previously where they were stripped to the frame and completely rebuilt. They look original but the internals have been swapped out.

  2. $8M does seem high. Given the current supply chain problems and inflation pressures, I don’t know if 2022 is the right time to be looking into this. However, SEPTA may be planning on using Federal funds to pay for much of it which could be a factor on their timing.

  3. The PCC Cars went through a “General Overhaul” (GOH) with more modern (1980’s) electronics. Then they were rebuilt into PCC II cars with new electrical gear, trucks, controls, ADA access and air-conditioning. They are being rebuilt again, more of a GOH, and some are calling them PCC III cars.

    One hangup with the new trolleys is the Eurocentric consultants are insisting on pantographs which don’t fit in the 1906 trolley tunnel.

    The K-cars grow on you, especially after 40 years of reliable service.

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