Peter Witt streetcar

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A Class 1500 car in front of Milan Central Station. It carries that city's former orange color scheme.

Peter Witt streetcar was introduced by Cleveland Railway commissioner Peter Witt (1869-1948) who lead the transit agency from 1911-1915 and who designed a model of streetcar known by his name,[1] and used in many North American cities, most notably in Toronto and Cleveland.

Features[edit]

Note the second crew member, sitting by the fare box, waiting to collect fares from exiting riders.
Sister ex-Milan Peter Witt car Class 1500 operating on Market Street in San Francisco.

This design was distinguished from other streetcars of the era by its use of the center door as an exit only, with a conductor stationed inside just in front of the door. Passengers could board through the front doors without waiting or paying; they could pay the conductor immediately and sit in the rear of the car (in the nicer seats), or wait in front and pay just before they exit.[1] This had the effect of reducing the car's dwell time at stops, improving schedule times and increasing capacity. Many vehicles were later converted to pay-as-you-enter operation in order to reduce the number of staff needed, but they continued to be known as Peter Witt cars.

History[edit]

TTC (Toronto) streetcar, ca. 1960s

Mr. Witt completed the first prototype in 1914 and filed his patent for the car design in 1915. G.C. Kuhlman Car Company then delivered 130 cars of this design to Cleveland in 1915 and 1916. From this point the design was licensed to a number of cities that needed large capacity trolleys. Toronto Transportation Commission ordered 575 cars from 1921 to 1923 and operated them until 1965. Production continued until the introduction of the PCC streetcar in the mid-1930s.

Peter Witt cars were also built in Italy and used in several Italian cities, including Milan, where 200 out of 502 originally built class 1500 cars (introduced in 1928) are still in use up to this day. Additionally eleven ex-Milan cars can be seen today on the streets of San Francisco, where they operate on the F Market & Wharves streetcar line.

In early 1930ies, а group of Soviet engineers from Leningrad headed by designer D.I.Kondratyev visited the US and, on their return, adapted the American design to the local narrower rail gauge to start local production of the model (popularly known as "американка" (amerikanka, the Russian for "an American (lady)")) that was later used in the city for 45 years (in its last decades, together with other tram models), until mid-March, 1979, according to St.Petersburg Museum of the City's Electric Transport.[2]

Besides their continued use in day-to-day service in Milan and San Francisco, Peter Witt cars have been preserved in several locations. Gomaco Trolley Company, a US streetcar renovation specialist, has bought 70 ex-Milan cars which it is offering to museums and heritage streetcar operators.[3] In St Petersburg, Russia, museum there is a restored sample of the version once made and used in the city.[2]

Operators[edit]

This ex-Toronto car has been restored to its 1921 livery, and is now preserved at the Halton County Radial Railway Museum.
This ex-Milan car, now operating in San Francisco, carries the two-tone green color scheme used by Milan from the 1930s to the 1970s.
This ex-Milan car in San Francisco car carries its original 1928 yellow and white color scheme.

Operators that used Peter Witt streetcars included:

Operator City State/Province Country
Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board
(M&MTB)
Melbourne Victoria Australia
Ottawa Transportation Commission Ottawa Ontario Canada
Toronto Transportation Commission
Toronto Transit Commission
Toronto Ontario Canada
Azienda Municipalizzata Trasporti
(now Gruppo Torinese Trasporti)
Turin Turin Italy
Azienda Napoletana Mobilità (ANM) Naples Naples Italy
Azienda Trasporti Milanesi (ATM) Milan Milan Italy
Servicio de Transportes Eléctricos Mexico City Distrito Federal Mexico
Porto Rico Railway, Light & Power Co. San Juan Puerto Rico
Empresa Municipal de Transportes (EMT) Madrid Madrid Spain
Brooklyn & Queens Transit New York New York United States
Chicago Surface Lines Chicago Illinois United States
Cleveland Railway Cleveland Ohio United States
Dallas Railway & Terminal Dallas Texas United States
Department of Street Railways Detroit Michigan United States
International Railway Co. Buffalo New York United States
Los Angeles Railway Los Angeles California United States
Louisville Railway Louisville Kentucky United States
New York State Railways Rochester New York United States
New York State Railways Syracuse New York United States
Philadelphia Rapid Transit
Philadelphia Transportation Company
Philadelphia Pennsylvania United States
Rochester Industrial & Rapid Transit Railway Rochester New York United States
San Francisco Municipal Railway San Francisco California United States
St. Louis Public Service Company St. Louis Missouri United States
Baltimore Transit Company Baltimore Maryland United States
United Railways & Electric Company Baltimore Maryland United States

Builders[edit]

A Peter Witt streetcar in Milan - piazza Bottini terminus, near Stazione Lambrate.
Company City State/Province Country
J.G. Brill Company Philadelphia Pennsylvania United States
Canadian Car & Foundry Montréal Québec Canada
Cincinnati Car Company Cincinnati Ohio United States
G.C. Kuhlman Car Company Cleveland Ohio United States
Ottawa Car Company Ottawa Ontario Canada
Preston Car Company Preston Ontario Canada
St. Louis Car Company St. Louis Missouri United States
Carminati & Toselli Milan Milan Italy
Officine Elettroferroviarie Tallero Milan Milan Italy
Officine Ferroviarie Moncenisio Condove Turin Italy
Officine Ferroviarie Meridionali del Vasto Vasto Chieti Italy

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b US 1180900, Witt, Peter, "P. Witt Street Railway Car", issued 1916 
  2. ^ a b Трамвайный поезд ЛМ-33 №4275 + ЛП-33 №4454 («Американка») - a page dedicated to the model on the museum website (in Russian) http://retro.tramway.ru/vagons/4275+4454.html
  3. ^ "Reconditioned Peter Witt Trolley". Gomaco Trolley Company. Retrieved 2008-07-04.