This site provides an
overview of Vintage Trolley (a.k.a. Heritage Trolley) operations in
. From these pages you can visit the impressive variety of systems now
in regular operation, as well as learn about proposals for new systems.
Each page contains links to websites covering the individual systems, so
additional information is always close at hand. New information is being
added continuously, so please check back regularly. Contributions are
is a Vintage Trolley?
For purposes of this web
site, a Vintage Trolley is a regularly-scheduled operation using genuine
historic or replica electric railway cars in an urban environment, which
is operated independently from an established railway or trolley museum.
The cars run on rails and operate electrically from overhead wires or
from a mobile generator. We won't be completely strict with
this definition, but we do think you'll appreciate reading about all of
the locations covered.
A Vintage Trolley operation
strives to provide an authentic historic trolley experience that mixes
urban transportation with visitor entertainment. In many cases, the
Vintage Trolley lines are operated as part of the local transit system,
and in other cases by a local non-profit organization, or by some
combination of the two.
are Vintage Trolleys Being Built?
While each system is
different, a couple of common themes have emerged. The development of a
Vintage Trolley operation is usually driven by economic reasons,
typically the desire to help focus economic development along a
particular corridor. A trolley can be an excellent way to circulate
people between local attractions (and parking areas), and at the same
time, the trolley ride itself becomes part of the experience,
further enhancing the attraction. Vintage Trolley systems have an
excellent track record of helping attract investment because the fixed
nature of the trolley infrastructure implies permanence- it's something
that's going to be there for a long time, a significant advantage over
rubber-tired alternatives. Quiet, pollution-free electric trolleys also
blend in well with the community, and their moderate schedule speeds let
the passengers enjoy the ride, taking in the local landscape as they
Vintage Trolley systems are
also much less expensive to build and operate than conventional rail
systems, costing as little as one-tenth as much as a modern Light-Rail
system. For this reason, some cities are using a Vintage Trolley
operation as a precursor to a new light rail system, offering a low-cost
"demonstrator" line that can later be incorporated into a
For more background
information on Vintage Trolley, check out this excellent summary of Vintage
Trolley characteristics from the CNU Transportation Tech Sheet
series. Also, the May 2001 issue of Railway Age had an excellent article
on Vintage Trolleys. For a more in-depth look at modern streetcars
and vintage trolleys in the context of urban planning, take a look at "Bring
Back the Streetcars, A Conservative Vision of Tomorrow's
Transportation" by Paul Weyrich and William Lind, available in
pdf format on the National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates
One of the most exciting
aspects of today's Vintage Trolley systems are the replica trolley cars
that are now being built in increasing numbers. Several companies are
now offering replica trolleys, custom built to suit the customer's
requirements. To date, the Gomaco Trolley Company of Ida Grove, Iowa has
dominated the market, but there are now other companies offering to
build similar products, and
has built its own cars. Costs for these custom-made vehicles
currently range around $700,000 for a double-truck car, about double the
average cost of a new bus, but still less than half as much as a modern
light rail vehicle.
Go to the Replica
Trolley Cars page for a complete roster of all replica cars built to
date, with facts and figures on each.