SEPTA had planned to launch the refurbished classic trolleys this Sunday, but their return has been postponed until later in the fall.
“There will be a slight delay in returning the trolleys to service, primarily to allow more operators time for training,” SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said in an email. “We expect them to be operational in the fall; We don’t know the specific date yet.”
The six cars acquired in 1947 were removed from the tracks in January 2020 as most of them had failed inspection. They received new framing, sheet metal, flooring, windows, air conditioning and fresh green and cream paint. SEPTA key card scanners and plexiglass barriers separating riders from trolley operators were also installed.
The cost of the modernization was approximately $250,000 per car.
The trolleys will be used on SEPTA’s Route 15, which runs mostly along Girard Avenue from 63rd Street in West Philadelphia to Westmoreland Street in Port Richmond. It’s SEPTA’s last exclusively above-ground overhead line.
Buses were used on Route 15 while the trolleybuses were renovated.
In 1992, due to budget constraints, SEPTA also retired the trolleybuses in favor of buses, which did not return to service until 2005. Due to construction work in 2012, the fleet was also temporarily replaced by buses.
Despite the overhaul of the retro trolleys, SEPTA plans to replace them with a new fleet as part of its fleet Trolley modernization project. That will require $1.8 billion in improvements to the nation’s largest streetcar network, including larger-capacity streetcars, station renovations, new platforms and disability-accessible upgrades.
In February, the transport authority first presented representations of the new trolleys, each of which has 44 seats and space for 120 passengers. The trolleys have designated areas for riders with disabilities and people bringing strollers or bicycles. They will also have audio and visual messaging systems that announce upcoming stops and service changes.
Alstom Transportation is building 130 trolleys for $718 million. The first trolleys are expected to be available in 2027, with the entire fleet expected to be in use by 2030.