The demise of the inter urban trolley

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87YJ

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I just remember my old family members talking about the Oregon Electric Line from Portland to Eugene. A few good stories!
 
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Horse and buggy or mainline rail?

How long would that have taken, just for interests sake and would it have required overnights/long layovers?
 

Willbridge

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Ah, I see I should have gone straight to the Twittersphere - 53 hours and 400 dollars vs 20 hours and 50 dollars for mainline rail.
Areas where the steam railway network was not "complete" had some big networks of interurban lines. My 98-year-old father rode some of them and remembers seeing others that were abandoned before he was old enough to get that rare mileage.

Some of them, like the Oregon Electric and the Sacramento Northern had the potential to grow into long-distance operations but expansions came to an end with WWI and the infinite funding of highways.
TW17Aug29-01.jpg

1920 05 19 - Good Roads.jpg
 

VentureForth

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Ah, I see I should have gone straight to the Twittersphere - 53 hours and 400 dollars vs 20 hours and 50 dollars for mainline rail.
I so would have wanted to do that, once.

A good chuck of commuter rail can be done between DC and Boston. I had it all plotted out once, noting the gaps. Now that I have opportunity, I have a wife. She's not a railfan. lol

That's nearly European density of electrified track. What if.....
 

MARC Rider

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Ah, I see I should have gone straight to the Twittersphere - 53 hours and 400 dollars vs 20 hours and 50 dollars for mainline rail.

No, it was 53 hours and $21.04 in 1917 dollars (~$400 in 2020 $) for the interurban vs. 20 hours and 50 dollars ($1,080 in current dollars) for the direct steam train. And that was just the rail fare. The pullman berth was another $10.

. #897 - Passenger traffic study. - Full View | HathiTrust Digital Library

I guess there's no point in complaining about a $500 roomette on the Lake Shore Limited.
 

jis

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No, it was 53 hours and $21.04 in 1917 dollars (~$400 in 2020 $) for the interurban vs. 20 hours and 50 dollars ($1,080 in current dollars) for the direct steam train. And that was just the rail fare. The pullman berth was another $10.

. #897 - Passenger traffic study. - Full View | HathiTrust Digital Library

I guess there's no point in complaining about a $500 roomette on the Lake Shore Limited.
Indeed. Especially if there were no cheaper and faster alternatives available 😬
 

John from RI

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Perhaps as we move to battery operated buses we wlll see a revival of street cars operated with batteries which avoid the cost of installing and maintaining an overhead trolley wire.
 

Willbridge

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Perhaps as we move to battery operated buses, we will see a revival of street cars operated with batteries which avoid the cost of installing and maintaining an overhead trolley wire.
That would be truly ironic, as the transit industry first tried battery cars before overhead electrification proved more reliable.

I've had the experience of scheduling the early battery buses on the RTD Denver 16th Street Mall and they created hidden costs (i.e., operating costs that looked like normal expenses but were a consequence of the battery buses).

The next try were hybrids. One problem with them was a tendency to catch fire, but they could be scheduled easily. When I learned that the downtown firefighters had been issued keys to the battery boxes, I realized that more needed to be done.

Now my successors have Chinese-designed battery buses to schedule on the Mall. I like the interior layout and performance, but last that I heard they were back to the scheduling (range) issue. These buses are far better than their predecessors and now RTD will be trying some regular transit battery buses, as other cities have done.

Developments now include on-route recharging stations for trams or buses and so the scheduling issue should gradually fade away. In the meantime, several of the scheduling software companies are offering a battery-bus or tram option for urban transit, which is a clue that transportation providers are coping with this issue.

Hybrid shuttle back in the olden days (2011):

2011 May 028.jpg
 

Willbridge

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Overhead power still was the best. JMHO
I agree, especially for systems that had it into the era when global warming and urban air pollution became issues: the Edmonton, Hamilton and Toronto trolley coach networks.

Elaborate steps are being taken to make battery operations do as well as Diesels; no mention of making them as efficient as overhead-supplied buses and trams.

This company is a leader in battery electrification for buses, but it would all apply to an interurban or urban rail vehicle.

CarMedialab: how smart charging helps PTO to scale up electric bus deployment. An interview with General Manager Heiko Bauer (sustainable-bus.com)
 

AmtrakMaineiac

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In Boston the MBTA plans to replace the last 3 trolleybus routes with electric buses. The reasoning is that the overhead infrastructure is in need of replacement and there is major construction in the area that will require rerouting of one or more routes for a few years anyway. I just hope this is not a short term fix to avoid a major capital investment, an investment that might be better in the long term.
 

SubwayNut

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In Boston the MBTA plans to replace the last 3 trolleybus routes with electric buses. The reasoning is that the overhead infrastructure is in need of replacement and there is major construction in the area that will require rerouting of one or more routes for a few years anyway. I just hope this is not a short term fix to avoid a major capital investment, an investment that might be better in the long term.
That's sad news, fully electric overhead wire trolley buses are such a unique part of the landscape in Boston.
 

cirdan

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Perhaps as we move to battery operated buses we wlll see a revival of street cars operated with batteries which avoid the cost of installing and maintaining an overhead trolley wire.
I understand the costs of electrification are insignificant compared to the costs of fighting NIMBYs and purchasing the ROW or digging the tunnels where a surface route would not be acceptable. In some situations the batteries alone cost more than catenary. This may change as economies of scale ramp up. But for now that's not the main problem when it comes to bringing back light rail.
 

dlagrua

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From what I have read the bus companies, at that time many were private and didn't want competition. They purchased many of the city trolley lines, closed them and pulled up the tracks.
 

MARC Rider

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Perhaps as we move to battery operated buses we wlll see a revival of street cars operated with batteries which avoid the cost of installing and maintaining an overhead trolley wire.
The streetcar in Milwaukee has batteries; there are a few short stretches of the route that don't have trolley wire for some reason, and the batteries power the streetcar through them.
 

Willbridge

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There are several systems like that. The reason for no overhead is usually aesthetics in the downtown district.
In the late 1980's when the original battery shuttle buses on Denver's 16th Street Mall had proven to be mediocre there was some discussion about overhead electrification. As best as I know, there were only three of us in management who had experience with them. The main reason that we didn't get to the serious stage was the trees in the center of the Mall. Planning Director DIck Bauman said he didn't want to have us crucified for removing the trees from the center median, which otherwise would have blocked wrong-way running in emergencies.

The great irony is that after a years-long planning process it has been concluded that the center island in the Mall should be removed, so the sidewalk on the sunny side can be widened. Times change.
 

neroden

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On a smaller scale, rather than full battery operation, battery-overhead hybrid designs are becoming standard for both trolleybuses and trams; it avoids the complicated expense of specialwork for the wiring at tricky intersections. Drop the poles before the intersection, raise them afterwards, run through the intersection on battery.
 

MARC Rider

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On a smaller scale, rather than full battery operation, battery-overhead hybrid designs are becoming standard for both trolleybuses and trams; it avoids the complicated expense of specialwork for the wiring at tricky intersections. Drop the poles before the intersection, raise them afterwards, run through the intersection on battery.
That seems to be my impression of what the Milwaukee streetcar does.
 
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One could always go with the more expensive solution (utilized by NYC and Washington DC - and possibly other cities - many moons ago, and more recently, in France - too lazy to look up which city) and have underground current pickup systems.
 
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