Philadelphia Transportation Company 1952 10-Year Plan

- Of 48 trolley lines, only 14 would remain as trolleys -

Even before National City Lines management decimated most of Philadelphia's trolley system in the mid-1950s, PTC had drawn up plans to replace most of its trolleys with a combination of electric and gasoline-powered buses.

A PTC planning document dated July 25, 1952 outlined a ten-year program that would replace the majority of Philadelphia's electric trolley lines with trolley buses (trackless trolleys) and a small fleet of gasoline powered buses.

If the plan had been carried out, of 48 trolley lines in operation in 1952:

Note that the numbers do not add up to 48 because some lines are split up while others are combined. Please refer to table below.

Ultimately this is not the plan that was carried out. National City Lines management, beginning in 1955, replaced trolley lines with General Motors diesel buses -- not electric trackless trolleys. (There were only two exceptions to this: Route 66 Frankford Avenue became a trackless trolley line because that deal had already been set in motion before the NCL takeover, and Route 79 Snyder Avenue became a trackless trolley line in order to utilize relatively new trackless trolleys freed up by the dieselization of trackless trolley line 61. In both instances, the City of Philadelphia was adamant that electric vehicles provide service, rather than diesel powered.)

Details of the 1952 plan are intriguing. It's hard to understand why heavily travelled Route 15 Girard Avenue (which continues as an electric streetcar line today) was to be converted from trolley to trackless trolley. Conversely, Route 46, which utilized 1920s-era double-end trolleys on 58th and 60th Streets in West Philadelphia, was one of the few lines that was supposed to retain trolley service. Short Route 62 in Darby, which today sees trolley service as a rush-hour extension of Route 13, was supposed to be one of just six lines converted to motor bus.

Ultimately, National City Lines plans for the system differed from this earlier plan mainly in that trolleys would be replaced not with trackless trolleys, but with diesel buses (built by General Motors, of course). The 1958 abandonment of the Route 6 suburban trolley through Glenside to Willow Grove was the last vandalism carried out by National City Lines. Things stabilized for a decade, with trolley abandonments resuming only after Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) took over PTC in 1968.

pdf version of table

View the table in pdf format by following this link.

Scans of the original four-page PTC document can be viewed by following this link.

scans of original document

Philadelphia Transportation Company
10 Years - 1952 to 1962
Suggested Changes in Existing Surface Rail Lines
[ derived from PTC document dated July 25, 1952 ] 
Trolley Route No. Description Continue as Trolley Replace with Trackless Trolley Replace with Motor Bus Abandon
2 15th & 16th         (move to 16th & 17th Sts.)
3 Frankford-Columbia     (split into two routes: trolley on Columbia Ave, trackless trolley on Frankford Ave)
5 2nd & 3rd          
6 Glenside     (trolley from Olney to Cheltenham Ave.; motor bus from Cheltenham Ave. to Willow Grove)
7 Strawberry 22nd & 23rd          
8 Dauphin & Susquehanna   (combine with Route 39)
9 Strawberry 4th & 5th         (combine with Route 48)
10 Lancaster - Subway  
11 Woodland - Subway          
12 Grays Ferry   (shorten to only 49th & Woodland, then Grays Ferry, 22nd and 23rd to 6th & Market)
13 Chester Ave          
15 Girard  
17 South 19th & 20th          
18 South 22nd & 23rd  
20 12th & 13th         (replace with Route 23)
21 North 11th & 18th  
23 Germantown 10th & 11th         (move to 11th & 12th Sts.)
26 Olney Ave  
31 70th & Lansdowne - Subway          
32 South 17th & 18th  
33 North 22nd         (move from Arch St. to Market St.)
34 Baltimore - Subway  
36 Elmwood          
37 Elmwood - Subway  
38 Baring - Subway          
39 Dauphin & Susquehanna   (combine with Route 8)
40 Lombard & South          
41 63rd St   (replace with Routes 31 and 46)
42 West Spruce          
43 Spring Garden  
46 58th & 60th          
47 Olney 8th & 9th  
48 Fairmount-Arch         (combine with Route 9)
50 Lawndale 4th & 5th  
52 Chelten Ave          
53 Wayne Ave   (combine with Route 75)
54 Lehigh Ave          
56 Erie-Torresdale  
57 Jefferson & Master          
60 Allegheny Ave  
62 Chester Ave Extension          
63 Catharine & Bainbridge  
64 Federal & Wharton          
65 York Road 6th & 7th  
66 Holmesburg          
70 52nd St  
79 Snyder-Navy Yard         (replace with Routes C and 81)
81 Snyder-Passyunk  
ZMS - July 30, 2014

Return to Philadelphia Trolley Tracks main page.