Tag Archives: buses

Streetcar v. Bus


world.nycsubway.org: The PCC Car – Not So Standard.

Great article on how the “standard” PCC streetcar really wasn’t.  I love the PCC car and it’s what comes to mind when someone says “streetcar”, but sadly it was too late to save the industry.

In 1929, what would become the Electric Railway Presidents’ Conference Committee started work on a new car design designed for the new environment of almost-but-not-quite mass motorization.  Private automobiles not only competed with the street railways, but physically got in their way.

Unfortunately, the stock market crash occurred about 20 minutes after they convened (kidding, but the crash was in 1929 after the initial meetings) and that slowed things down and bankrupted more railways.  As a result, the design didn’t get into production form until 1936.  Fortunately, it was a hit (for everyone except Brill, but never mind).  Several different car builders built them licensing ERPCC’s patents – you can read more about that at the link.

Anyway, as popular as these cars were and are — PCCs are still in regular revenue service in Boston and in heritage service on SF Muni’s F-Market line — there weren’t that many of them, some 5000 of them per the list above.

STCUM 24-004
STCUM 24-004, a c.1984 GM New Look

Is there an analogous model in the rubber-tired world?  I would say yes:  GM’s New Look.  This model replaced what was retroactively named the “old look”.  Those older models, seen from a distance resemble a PCC car, which probably wasn’t a coincidence.  The New Looks were in production from 1959 to 1987, far longer than the PCC, and there were more of them built.  Almost 10x more — 44000 and change.

Unlike the PCC car, which was built in several other countries, the New Looks seem to have only been built in the USA and Canada, meaning that the model’s impact on the North American transit industry was even larger.

Of course, the New Look is two decades newer and it was designed by a large industrial enterprise riding a wave of popularity, profit, and volume that they would never see again.  So not the same scenario.

Still, the New Look was very popular and can be seen in the background of just about every urban location shot seen in a TV show from the 1960s to the 1980s.

And then there’s this:

Ahhhhhhh !!!!!!!


Via Streetsblog: “CTfastrak takes riders for a spin along bus rapid transit route”

“Officials hope CTfastrak will cut congestion on I-84 and connect communities along the route.”

via CTfastrak takes riders for a spin along bus rapid transit route – News – West Hartford News.

I usually scoff when I see a statement like that because it has rarely been true.  At best, new transit “bends the curve” meaning that while the new facility doesn’t cut congestion along  corridor, it may well slow the rate of growth in congestion.  And that’s a fine thing.

But as I started to post this, I realized that this may now be true.  Why?  It’s in the article itself – VMT has at least leveled and may well be dropping.   The chart below shows what’s going on.

This never happened before.

I really need to find or make a chart like this that goes back to 1945, because this is the first time there has been a sustained leveling of growth since WW2.  And many, many, many facets of urban and transportation planning are predicated on  that growth continuing indefinitely.

Yes! “Walker: If a carpenter can’t be a hammer opponent, then I can’t be a streetcar opponent”

Human Transit: If a carpenter can’t be a hammer opponent, then I can’t be a streetcar opponent.

Just going to set this here.  I have been strongly influenced by Mr Walker’s writing and usually agree with him on most issues including this one.  And just because I got him to sign a copy of his book doesn’t mean I’m a fanboy.

Impressive!: “Projected demand for Vancouver’s Broadway subway sees 250,000 trips on first day”

Article: Projected demand for Vancouver’s Broadway subway sees 250,000 trips on first day – The Globe and Mail.

OMG.  250k riders at the start.  Yes, this is the same corridor where Nelson\Nygaard was doing “real-time transit planning”.