Historic PCC Trolley return to SEPTA's Route 15

June 13, 2024
The trollies were originally built by the St. Louis Car Co. in 1947 but have since gone through multiple updated rebuilds over the years.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has brought back its green and cream Presidents’ Conference Committee (PCC) Trolleys to Route 15. The trolleys will begin services starting June 16. SEPTA officials celebrated the milestone with employees at the Woodland Shop in west Philadelphia, which is the agency’s heavy-duty trolley repair facility.

Work has been completed on eight trolleys so far. Route 15 will operate with a combination of trolleys and buses along Girard Avenue and Richmond Street, which will allow SEPTA to deploy the restored trolleys while maintaining frequency on the route.

“SEPTA is fortunate to have a talented workforce that can be counted on to maximize the limited resources that are available for improvements,” said SEPTA Board Chair Kenneth E. Lawrence Jr. “At a fraction of the cost of new vehicles, these historic trolleys have been meticulously restored and they are now ready to serve our riders.”

SEPTA’s Trolley Restoration Team has been innovative in finding solutions to restore the 75-year-old vehicles, including extensive research and review of original blueprints from the 1940s so they could reverse engineer and fabricate parts that are no longer manufactured.

“This is a truly extraordinary effort by SEPTA’s workforce,” said SEPTA CEO and General Manager Leslie S. Richards. “This is a difficult task under any circumstance but the Trolley Restoration Team also had to contend with once-in-a-generation challenges – from the pandemic to global supply chain shortages. Despite this, they have managed to beautifully restore these trolleys in a way that honors their historical significance to the communities we serve while preparing them to serve our customers for years to come.”

The PCC Trolleys are a part of history in Philadelphia – the St. Louis Car Co. originally built the PCC Trolleys in 1947 and they remained in service until 1992. In 2005, 18 rebuilt and ADA accessible PCCs returned to Route 15.

After 15 years the PCC Trolleys were due for another restoration. In January 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation made construction plans for I-95 and I-76, leading SEPTA to suspended trolley service on Route 15 and substituted it with bus service.

“These trolleys have been taken apart and rebuilt piece-by-piece – from the frames to the floors, from the windows to the wheelchair lifts,” said SEPTA COO Scott Sauer. “The PCCs are workhorses and thanks to our dedicated team, these iconic vehicles are ready to make their return – restored to near museum-quality standards.”

The PCC Trolleys will eventually be replaced by the new trolley fleet as part of Trolley Modernization– SEPTA’s program to transform the nation’s largest trolley network into an accessible, fast and easy-to-use system. SEPTA notes that since it could take as long as a decade for full implementation of the project, restoring the PCC Trolleys gives the agency the ability to run ADA accessible trolleys on Route 15 in the interim.