Penn's Landing Trolley/Columbus Boulevard

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Penn's Landing Trolley/Columbus Boulevard

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:07 am

Some of you might have recalled the Penn's Landing Trolley that operated on the PBL Belt Line on Columbus Boulevard. The Penn's Landing Trolley operated between September 5, 1982 and December 17, 1995 and was a private volunteer operation with service on weekends and holidays.

Flash forward two or three decades: Many cities have since built or reopened "heritage trolley" lines, often in heavily trafficked tourist areas or commercial districts. SF-Muni scored a win with the F-Market Line, Kenosha followed in 2000 and more heritage lines have opened (including an expansion of the New Orleans system, San Diego's Silver Line, Little Rock, Memphis, Charlotte's CityLynx Gold Line and a new "Loop Trolley" in St. Louis ready for service this year).

With these developments in mind, would a restored version of the Penn's Landing Trolley be something on the table? The July 2007 ERA Bulletin (page 15) mentioned a proposed $700 million Waterfront Light Rail on Columbus Boulevard from Spring Garden el station to Pier 70, with an alternate proposal for DRPA Light Rail from Franklin Square PATCO Station to Pier 70 in the August 2007 ERA Bulletin (page 15).

Given Center City and Penn's Landing being popular commercial and tourist destinations, such a service could be a winning ticket as seen in other cities. Would issues with FRA over operating on PBL come up? Also it seems the PBL has been cut back, as it ended at the Ben Franklin Bridge during the era of 1980s-90s trolley service (the tracks now ends a few blocks south).
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Re: Penn's Landing Trolley/Columbus Boulevard

Postby R3 Passenger » Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:59 am

The problem with Penn's Landing is connections. I-95 has largely cut off the riverfront from the rest of the city. It is a hike over Columbus Boulevard and I-95 to reach feeder lines such as PATCO, the El, Routes 5, 12, 17, 21, 33, 40. 42, and 48. Who exactly will this trolley serve other than endpoint customers?

In terms of FRA issues, one only has to look across the river to the RiverLINE to see how those could be resolved. However, the route would be restricted to only the PBL. The PBL is standard gauge (4' 8.5") while the Route 15 trolley is Pennsylvania Trolley Gauge (5' 2.5"). There is no way to use dual gauge vehicles since the trolley gauge was designed specifically to prevent that. Any additional route mileage would require installation of new standard gauge track that would need to be installed and maintained by the ultimate operator of the service.
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Re: Penn's Landing Trolley/Columbus Boulevard

Postby SCB2525 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:41 am

The most viable route would be to restore the tourist trolley that used to run between 11/Bainbridge and 40th/Parkside to connect downtown to the zoo. It's almost all still there too.

The Center City portion of the 50 trolley is the only other viable 'touristy' corridor I could see being viable.
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Re: Penn's Landing Trolley/Columbus Boulevard

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:41 pm

SCB2525 wrote:The most viable route would be to restore the tourist trolley that used to run between 11/Bainbridge and 40th/Parkside to connect downtown to the zoo. It's almost all still there too.

The Center City portion of the 50 trolley is the only other viable 'touristy' corridor I could see being viable.

I can't picture these routes, can someone provide more details, such as maps? I assume the 50 trolley is not related to the present 50 bus.

Not much literature or details out there on the 1982-95 Penn's Landing Trolley, but a 2009 PlanPhilly feature story and the 1987 brochure.

As for DRPA's light rail proposal, it still more or less duplicates the 25 bus. If only the 15 could be extended south from the casino, that could seem the most logical bet.
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Re: Penn's Landing Trolley/Columbus Boulevard

Postby ekt8750 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:38 pm

R36 Combine Coach wrote:
SCB2525 wrote:The most viable route would be to restore the tourist trolley that used to run between 11/Bainbridge and 40th/Parkside to connect downtown to the zoo. It's almost all still there too.

The Center City portion of the 50 trolley is the only other viable 'touristy' corridor I could see being viable.

I can't picture these routes, can someone provide more details, such as maps? I assume the 50 trolley is not related to the present 50 bus.


The route 50 was a trolley route that ran from 6th/Oregon Av in South Philly running on a one way pair on 4th & 5th Sts all the way up to Juniata where crossed Wyoming Av to Rising Sun Av and ending at Knorr St. A couple years after the line went bus it was split up and absorbed into the current Route 18 and 57 buses.
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