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Loop Trolley Cannot Use Two Existing Cars Owned For A Decade, Seeking Bids To Restore A Different Type

November 24, 2015 Featured, Public Transit, Transportation 5 Comments

Construction of the 2,2 mile Loop Trolley continues, the track work in most of the Western portion was largely completed by November 10th.

With track completed in the main Delmar Loop crews are now working on platforms and such.
With track completed in the main Delmar Loop crews are now working on platforms and such.

The issue of what vehicle will operate on them, however, remains an issue. A decade ago Citizens for Modern Transit restored two vintage cars, which sat outside along the Delmar Loop and in front of the Missouri History Museum. They’ve since been removed from display.

We've had two fully restored Ex-Milan Peter Witt single-ended cars for a decade. Click image for the Wikipedia entry on this car design named after the inventor, Cleveland Railway head Peter Witt.
We’ve had two fully restored Ex-Milan Peter Witt single-ended cars for a decade. Click image for the Wikipedia entry on this car design named after the inventor, Cleveland Railway head Peter Witt.

When the Loop Trolley opens late next year you won’t see either of them on the route.  The why requires diving into some technical issues, but I’ll try to simplify it.

The Delmar Loop is called that because decades ago the original Westbound streetcar made a loop around buildings and then returned Eastbound toward downtown. Similar loops existed in Dutchtown & Wellson.

When the new Loop Trolley was conceived it was to do a circle on the West end near the University City Hall and loop around the Missouri History Museum. Looping the track allows the driver to stay in one position to operate the vehicle in both directions.   This meant the vehicles only needed driver controls at one end — single-ended.

But the Loop Trolley route was simplified to meet budget, ironically, it won’t loop!

Like our light rail, both ends come to a dead end. To go the other direction, the operator must switch to the other end — double-ended.  Thus, the Loop Trolley needs double-ended vehicles.

Seattle’s King County has five vehicles that will work, they’ve been in storage since they ceased their waterfront streetcar line a decade ago:

Metro’s green and yellow waterfront streetcars used to run on a track along Alaskan Way and part of S. Main Street. The streetcars were powered by electricity. They were built in Australia for the Melborne and Metropolitan Tramways Board between 1925 and 1930. The cars are double end, double truck, and designed for two-person operation.

Manufacturer: Melborne shops or James Moore
Fleet Numbers: 272, 482, 512, 518, 605
Seats: 43 passengers
Length: 48 feet
Two of the 1928 Australian streetcars began service along Elliott Bay between Pier 70 and Main Street in 1982. Three more streetcars joined the fleet between 1990 and 1993 when Metro extended the line to the International District. The streetcars featured Tasmanian mahogany and white ash woodwork, capturing the elegance of travel in a bygone era.

The waterfront streetcar line is named after George Benson, former City of Seattle and Metro Council member. Known as the “father of the Waterfront Streetcar,” Benson was the driving force behind development of the historic streetcar line.

Our Metro is seeking restoration bids:



Loop Trolley Transit Development District (LTTDD) requests Proposals for the refurbishment of One (1) Melbourne W2 vehicle and the Option (at the District’s discretion) of One or Two more Melbourne W2 vehicles. The Work shall also include shipment of the vehicles, delivery of manuals and drawings, and testing as described in the Technical Specifications.

Site Visit:

A site visit will be held at 1:00 pm on December 7, 2015. The meeting will convene at the Metro King County’s Frye Warehouse, 1501 Sixth Ave. South, Seattle, WA (across Sixth Ave. from the bus yard).

Proposers will be given access to the cars at this time so they may put together their proposals.

Clarifications may be addressed at this time but technical questions and responses will be handled by Amendment.

Questions Due:
December 14, 2015 by 2:00 p.m. St. Louis Time.

Proposals Due:
January 19, 2016 by 02:00 p.m. St. Louis Time.

So they want the price to restore just one Melbourne W2 car, with the option to restore one or two more.  If you’ve ridden Memphis’ trolley then you’ve likely been on a Melbourne W2 car, one caught on fire in 2013.

Restored cars cost a fraction new modern ones do, but they’re also costlier to operate.

— Steve Patterson




Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    Plus, they’re difficult to make ADA compliant . . . the next two questions are will anyone show up to bid and what if the bids come in way over budget? What next? Will we be looking at a track and no vehicles? Only one vehicle (instead of two), and half the “service”?! This has been a minor cluster since it was first proposed – do something, anything, even if it turns out to be wrong . . .

  2. matimal says:

    Can’t they just buy new ones like Cincy, KC, and many other cities are?

    • Two things:
      1) Delmar Loop’s Joe Edwards like vintage.
      2) A restored vintage car cost something like $100k, while new modern cars cost nearly $3 million each.

      • neroden says:

        I’ll make one subtle point: if you’re buying hundreds of them, new modern cars cost only about $1 million each. But if you’re only buying a few they cost $3 million each. There’s a large cost to setting up the production line. This is why cities planning smaller streetcar operations usually watch for a city building a *very large* streetcar operation and attempt to piggyback on their order.

  3. JZ71 says:

    It might be the perspective, but the “ramp” in the top photo looks like a non-compliant trip hazard.


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