West Girard Avenue is host to the commercial corridor that runs through Brewerytown. Along these stores runs the historic trolleys that helped commuters travel up and down Girard Avenue daily. Recently, SEPTA announced that it will stop the service of the trolleys until Dec. 30, and replace them with diesel buses. The tracks from West 52nd to 56th streets must be repaired, SEPTA stated.
The advisory by SEPTA created flashbacks of the long absence of the streetcar system from 1992 to 2005. It was a 13-year time period in which users of the Route 15 trolley and residents of Brewerytown waited for the streetcars to return.
As an expert on the history of the trolley system in Philadelphia and Route 15, Mike Szilagyi described how despite the disapproval by the public in the past most people don’t have a preference on the situation today.
“The attitudes of the people who ride the Route-15 trolley are probably mixed,” Szilagyi said. “Many do not care what kind of vehicle pick them up, just so it’s on time.”
Despite the notion that the public just wants a dependable means for commuting, Brewerytown resident Billy Slater said it is necessary for the trolley system to return to Girard Avenue as soon as possible.
“The trolleys are important because they are electric, the buses make the neighborhood dirty and pollute the air,” Slater said.
Another resident of Brewerytown described how the trolleys used to be more useful in the past, but are still a dependable way to travel. “We used to be able to sit in our house and listen for the trolley to come over the bridge,” Stan Martin said. “It used to stop on every street, we need all those trolley stops to be brought back.”
The removal of the Route 15 streetcar system is anticipated to be short and temporary, but with the winter months approaching some delays on the rehabilitation could be delayed.
It’s been several months since this article appeared and SEPTA has been hard at work rebuilding the tracks in several locations.
Whether you travel Girard to access I-95 or I-76, you will notice that their crews, not contractors, have been rebuilding large sections of track across the Schuylkill River Bridge and around the Market-Frankford Elevated Railway.
To SEPTA’s credit, this is a large capital dollars improvement. Coupled with the Zoo’s proposed parking garage it will aide the zoo as well as the Brewerytown commercial corridor.
Recently there was the announcement that a developer will build at 31st & Girard, and that Bottom Dollar will be a tenant. I can only assume that public transit access from West Philly, Francesvile and West Poplar were contributors to their business plan.
BTW does anyone recall riding the Route 15 PCC Tolleys with a ticket-taker/conductor in a ‘booth’ at the back door? say ’62-’66?