This streetcar is painted in the livery of Louisville Railway Company, which bought but never actually ran PCC streetcars. And therein lies a tale.
After World War II, many transit operators were squeezed to the limit financially. Heavy wartime passenger loads wore out their track and old-style streetcars, which passengers saw as out-of-date anyway. Production of the modern PCC was largely halted during the war, delaying possible upgrades for operators of old-style streetcars.
The end of the war thus presented a real dilemma for most privately owned streetcar operators, who still dominated the American transit landscape. Should they make an investment in new track and streetcars, or convert to buses? Some operators sold out to an outfit called National City Lines (NCL), owned by companies that made buses, tires, and gasoline. NCL was happy to give its owners business by converting newly acquired streetcar properties to buses (and was convicted of conspiracy by the federal government for doing so). But all U.S. streetcar operators, both privately and publicly owned, still had to face the reality that city residents across America were buying automobiles and moving to the suburbs, beyond the reach of streetcar lines.
Louisville Railway Company’s leadership initially decided to try to modernize its system with PCCs, but after ordering 15 of the streamliners in 1946, they lost their nerve, opting for buses instead. The 15 PCCs, some already painted in the handsome Louisville Railway Company livery of green, cream, and black, were resold to Cleveland, delivered there directly from the St. Louis Car Company factory. Several other US transit operators, including New Orleans Public Service and the East Bay’s Key System, also considered PCCs but couldn’t afford them.
Car No. 1062 thus represents all the cities that ‘might have been’ PCC territory.
Originally built for
Philadelphia Transportation Company, Philadelphia PA, 1948 (as car No. 2101)
Acquired by Muni from
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Philadelphia PA, 1992
St. Louis Car Co.
4 Westinghouse 1432J