Discussion relating to the past and present operations of the NYC Subway, PATH, and Staten Island Railway (SIRT).

Moderator: GirlOnTheTrain

  by polybalt
I know that early in the last century several New York rapid transit lines (all BMT I assume?) operated in some locations from trolley wire instead of third rail. Does anyone know the date of the last trolley pole operation in New York?


Pete Schmidt

  by JimBoylan
Probably about 1960 when the South Brooklyn Rwy., BMT's freight line went Diesel. It also shared some tracks with the BMT trolleys and rapid transit trains. The legal names are much more complicated and changed in various years.
Of course, in recent years, the Brooklyn Historic RR Ass'n. has erected wire in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn.

  by polybalt
Thank's, but I am actually interested in the last date when New York rapid transit passenger cars operated by trolley pole in revenue service. The question came to mind when seeing pole-equipped RT cars at Seashore and Shore Line. Which of those cars cars would have actually been equipped with poles in service earlier in their careers?

Chicago of course ran with poles until 1973 on Evanston, so the 4000's and spam cans ( PCC's) at the varioius museums actually had trolley poles when they were in service.

Pete Schmidt

  by bellstbarn
About 1962, Dad took this New Yorker out the Lake Street L, and I recall the crew raising the trolley poles when we descended to ground level. I think I can safely say that that was never true on the New York Interborough. The BRT or BMT routes that had service by poles at the far ends of third-rail routes were probably (error possible), Jamaica, before the construction of the el, Metropolitan Avenue, before the extension of the el beyond Palmetto Street, Canarsie to the pier, Culver and West End before el construction.
I suspect that your answer to when the last Brooklyn el train used trolley poles is on nycsubway.org by inspecting the history of each line.
Therefore (subject again to error), I'll claim that Shore Line in East Haven has these New York rapid cars with poles for museum duty, but they never had poles in New York service:
low-V 5466, Independent 1689, redbird 6688. According to the web page at bera.org, Brooklyn 1227 and 1389 saw service on the combined routes: with third rail, then changing to trolley poles as in Chicago. What puzzles me about the street-running Brooklyn service is that the platforms on Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica, and New Utricht Avenue in old photos are low platforms. I don't know about traps and steps.

  by 3rdrail
Museums are often inclined to install poles on rapid transit cars that they acquire for the sole purpose of having an electric feed. Most (if not all) trolley museums use overhead wire and not a third rail, due to the hazards that a third rail would present to the public. So, it is very likely that many of the rapid transit equipment that you are seeing mounted with poles never actually were equipped that way in revenue service. I know that Seashore has so equipped their 0900 and 0700 series R/T cars (Main Line and Cambridge-Dorchester cars, respectively). Their 0500 Pullmans from East Boston Tunnel Service didn't need to be so equipped - The 1923 vintage cars used retro-fitted pantographs for 1952's Revere Extension in their former life.

  by Otto Vondrak
[moved to MTA NYC Subway Forum - omv]

  by Disney Guy
OT: I'm not sure about New York, but I do recall in Boston:
1. A few Red Line (Cambridge-Dorchester rapid transit) cars with trolley poles, back in the 1950's,
2. The remains of trolley overhead, specifically towers with the ear insulators, over the Longfellow Bridge (Red Line between Park St. and Kendall Sq.)
3. Remains of trolley overhead, specifically ear insulators, in the Orange Line (Main Line, Washington St.) subway in a few locations.

Reasons given were:
1. During non-revenue hours the third rail was de-energized while crews were working along the track and an occasional train was in use,
2. Trolley tracks flanked the rapid transit tracks on the Longfellow Bridge and there were crossovers in between and occasionally a rapid transit train would come out and go down to the streets, using a trolley pole. This was supposedly to get to a shop location. This also connected to the Blue Line (East Boston Tunnel) via a portal at Bowdoin Sq.

Perhaps someone may recall vestiges of trolley overhead in some NYC subway tunnels.
  by Mitch
It would have been around 1919 when the last ground level with overhead lines were elevated in Brooklyn.