More News:

June 12, 2024

SEPTA gives sneak peek of retro trolleys ahead of long-awaited return Sunday

After a four-year restoration process, the green and cream railcars are back and will serve Route 15 on Girard Avenue.

Transportation SEPTA
SEPTA Woodland Facility Chris Compendio/PhillyVoice

A classic PCC II trolley makes a lap around SEPTA's Woodland Shop in West Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Retro trolley cars from 1947 will be back in service Sunday, according to SEPTA.

Eight green and cream PCC II trolleys will be on the rails of Route 15, which serves Girard Avenue from West Philadelphia to Port Richmond.

MORE: Frankford High School to fully reopen in 2025 after asbestos abatement

The restoration of the historic railcars was previously delayed, but the authority is ready to roll them out after each was tested on the streets for at least 200 miles. Two more PCCs are expected to be ready by spring 2025, SEPTA says.

SEPTA pulled the retro trolleys from service in 2020 for maintenance, and buses have served the route since then.

During a Wednesday morning event, SEPTA's Woodland Shop in West Philadelphia showcased one of the classic trolleys, which SEPTA officials said were restored to "museum-quality standards." The event, which City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier attended, also included a "celebratory ride" around Woodland Shop in one of the restored railcars.

SEPTA officials remarked how workers reverse-engineered and fabricated parts that are no longer manufactured for the rebuilding and restoration process, all amidst a pandemic and global supply chain shortages.

The PCC trolleys will eventually be replaced by a new trolley fleet as part of SEPTA's trolley modernization project. But the project could take as long as a decade to implement, so the restored PCC trolleys will serve Route 15 in the interim. 

SEPTA promises "operational improvements" and "new on-street stations" in the coming years.

Originally built by the St. Louis Car Company in 1947, the PCC trolleys served Philadelphia until 1992. The trolleys were rebuilt in 2005 and returned to Route 15 until they were once again sidelined in 2020.