The trolleybus era
March 5, 2013 10:08 PM   Subscribe

More than just pictures of electric Brill, Flyer and Pullman buses, has some great old street-level shots of many cities in North America.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe (16 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I'm proud to live in one of the green dots. I love riding our 40-foot trolleybuses. They accelerate fast up the big hills.
posted by grouse at 11:15 PM on March 5, 2013

A town near me has trolleybuses, and I get a real kick out of using them.
posted by knile at 11:57 PM on March 5, 2013

ah, this is proof - i am a transit nerd. hooray, green dot!
but i gotta say, the true delight here in frisco ain't the trolley buses, it's the TROLLEYS.

...of course, they don't handle the hills very well, hahaha.
posted by lapolla at 12:09 AM on March 6, 2013

This is great! A lot of obscure or forgotten history is in these pictures, like the great pictures of the old Stanley Park trolley loop that is part of a bike path now... I'd seen the loop on old maps of the streetcar system before, but I didn't realize that it was as busy as it seems to be in the pictures.
posted by junco at 12:19 AM on March 6, 2013

I guess Pittsburgh is underrepresented because we had full on trolleys, not trolley buses.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:21 AM on March 6, 2013

But look at that smog! Makes me glad to have modern emissions controls...
posted by junco at 12:34 AM on March 6, 2013

Denver! I kinda wish these were still around, but damn, were the buses themselves ugly.

A lot of the old routes now have bike lanes on them, as the streets were extra-wide and when the city decided to pay attention to cyclists, it was a low-hanging thing to paint that white line and paint sharrows.

You can still see some of the old tracks STILL peaking out of the road, on Broadway.

And it's a little strange to see how the old lines, and the new fancier light rail lines share the same route.
posted by alex_skazat at 12:51 AM on March 6, 2013

Man, the transit articles on Wikipedia, especially in German, are really comprehensive.
posted by Harald74 at 1:08 AM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ah! How nice to see all my cousins.
posted by TrolleyOffTheTracks at 4:20 AM on March 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I guess Pittsburgh is underrepresented because we had full on trolleys, not trolley buses.

If I'm understanding correctly, the trolleybus was the next evolution up from the standard trolley. A lot of cities, I'm guessing, ditched the trolley part and kept the bus part (unfortunately). In a city like Joplin, Missouri, which was no Kansas City, the trolley system and its connecting interurban railway (which was basically a trolley between towns and other cities) was incredible. It's too bad that many cities dropped the trolley system completely.
posted by Atreides at 7:02 AM on March 6, 2013

I just spent some time looking at the pictures from Des Moines. I was surprised to see ads on buses as far back as the early 1950s. The linked picture shows bus-side advertising for the trolley bus service itself ("432 EMPLOYEES -- $1,560,000 ANNUAL PAYROLL") but the caption says that they had been advertising other firms for several months.

It's fascinating to get a glimpse of the mindset from those days, back when the large size of your company payroll was something to be proud of.
posted by compartment at 7:21 AM on March 6, 2013

I am a transit nerd, and this has made me happy. Thank you.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 8:14 AM on March 6, 2013

Odd how I seem to stumble across these things in clusters.

The other day I was sent a video of an old Athens trolleybus making a run of its former route. That horn!
posted by mcoo at 9:50 AM on March 6, 2013

I'm proud to point out that Dayton is the only city in the middle states that has a still functioning trolleybus system. The power lines might be ugly to some, but the buses make a cool whoosh sound instead of engine noise and exhaust, so I am more prone to admire the spiderweb of wires above the streets as I walk, bike, and ride the RTA. :)
posted by figment of my conation at 8:27 PM on March 6, 2013

I always thought the spiderweb of trolley wire in Edmonton was interesting. Edmonton, a successful, growing city with new construction underway, dismantled their trolleybus system in 2009. Sure, they're expanding their LRT system, but that seems like a step backwards. It makes me sad.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:34 PM on March 6, 2013

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