The PCC Streetcar was developed in the 1930s in the USA, following the work of the Presidents Conference Committee, mainly drawn from streetcar operators. Its aim was to produce a modern vehicle that would appeal to riders, and give good acceleration and braking. As a result, over 4500 were bought by operators in the USA.
In this production, filmed between 1974 and 1999, we visit six of the surviving systems.
The first section, filmed in 1974, covers the remaining eastern systems in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Shaker Heights, Boston and Newark. San Francisco is first seen in 1977, when PCCs operated all five routes. Many US streetcar systems closed in the 1950s, and a lot of the PCCs were sold second-hand to Toronto. Examples of them operating in their new home are included.
From here on, all the material was filmed with live sound, thus capturing the distinctive sounds of the PCCs. By 1981 Boston's remaining PCCs were operating with Boeing light rail vehicles. Scenes of the last months of PCC operation on the Cleveland Shaker Heights division are included.
At the time of the second visit to Philadelphia in 1981, new Kawasaki cars were just starting to enter service, alongside the PCCs. A visit is also made to the former Red Arrow division which operated double ended PCCs on the lines to Sharon Hill and Media, alongside Brill Liners and Brill Master cars dating from 1932/3. The first double ended Kawasaki car is also featured.
Pittsburgh changed dramatically three years after this section was filmed, with the diversion of services away from the Smithfield Street bridge, and the abandonment of all street running in the city centre. This section depicts the wide variety of liveries to be seen at the time. A brief visit to the Connecticut Trolley Museum shows a preserved Illinois Terminal car in operation.
The final section was filmed in San Francisco in 1999, a few months before the heritage F Line was extended to Fisherman's Wharf, and the Transbay Terminal closed. The entire service was provided by PCCs, in a wide variety of liveries.
Produced by - J & K Video
Duration - 86 minutes
Format - DVD-R
Narrator - Martin Jenkins
Released - March 2022