Peter Witt streetcar

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Peter Witt streetcar
This ex-Milan car, now operating in San Francisco, carries the two-tone green color scheme used by Milan from 1926 to the 1970s.
Interior of a Toronto Transportation Commission Peter Witt streetcar on October 30, 1928. Note the second crew member, sitting by the fare box, waiting to collect fares from passengers.
DesignerPeter Witt
UIC classificationBo'Bo'
AAR wheel arrangementB-B

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


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 exited.[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.


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 custom Peter Witt cars from 1921 to 1923 and operated them until 1965. Philadelphia Rapid Transit ordered 525 cars from 1923 to 1926, while also converting most of their 1,500 Nearside streetcar fleet to center exit models. 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 regular service in 2021. 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. Also in Italy, 30 heavily rebuilt Peter Witt cars are still in use in Naples.[2] Neapolitan prototype cars 901 and 902, built in 1930, and the first series order cars 903–906, built in 1932, were the only Peter Witt cars in use by 1950; they were rebuilt, eliminating the center door and adding a rear door to match the rest of the fleet built from 1932 on. The present rebuilt fleet has some of these cars, though they are no longer in Peter Witt format.[3]

In early 1930s, а group of Soviet engineers from Leningrad headed by designer D. I. Kondratyev visited the United States and, on their return, adapted the American design to the local narrower loading gauge to start local production of the model LM-33 (popularly known as "американка" (Amerikanka, 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.[4]

Besides their continued use in day-to-day service in Milan, San Francisco and (in a rebuilt form) Naples, 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.[5] A St. Petersburg, Russia, museum has a restored sample of the version once made and used in the city.[4]


Operators that used Peter Witt streetcars included:

Operator City State/Province Country
Azienda Municipalizzata Trasporti (now Gruppo Torinese Trasporti) Turin Turin Italy
Azienda Napoletana Mobilità Naples Naples Italy
Azienda Trasporti Milanesi Milan Milan Italy
Baltimore Transit Company Baltimore Maryland United States
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 Co. Dallas Texas United States
Department of Street Railways Detroit Michigan United States
Empresa Municipal de Transportes Madrid Madrid Spain
International Railway Co. Buffalo New York United States
Kitchener & Waterloo Street Railway Kitchener and Waterloo Ontario Canada
Leningrad Leningrad Russian SFSR Soviet Union
London Street Railway London Ontario Canada
Los Angeles Railway Los Angeles California United States
Louisville Railway Louisville Kentucky United States
Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board Melbourne Victoria Australia
New York State Railways Rochester & Syracuse New York United States
Ottawa Transportation Commission Ottawa Ontario Canada
Philadelphia Rapid Transit &
Philadelphia Transportation Company
Philadelphia Pennsylvania United States
Porto Rico Railway, Light & Power Co San Juan Puerto Rico
Rochester Industrial & Rapid Transit Railway Rochester New York United States
San Francisco Municipal Railway San Francisco California United States
Saskatoon Municipal Railway Saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada
Servicio de Transportes Eléctricos Mexico City Distrito Federal Mexico
St. Louis Public Service Company St. Louis Missouri United States
Toronto Transportation Commission / Toronto Transit Commission Toronto Ontario Canada
United Railways & Electric Company Baltimore Maryland United States


Company City State/Province Country
J. G. Brill Company Philadelphia Pennsylvania United States
Canadian Car and Foundry Montreal Quebec Canada
Carminati & Toselli Milan Milan Italy
Cincinnati Car Company Cincinnati Ohio United States
G. C. Kuhlman Car Company Cleveland Ohio United States
Officine Elettro-Ferroviarie Tallero (OEFT) Milan Milan Italy
Officine Moncenisio Condove Turin Italy
Officine Ferroviarie Meridionali (OFM) Naples Naples Italy
Ottawa Car Company Ottawa Ontario Canada
Petersburg Tram Mechanical Factory (PTMF) Leningrad Russian SFSR Soviet Union
Preston Car Company Preston Ontario Canada
St. Louis Car Company St. Louis Missouri United States


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b US 1180900, Witt, Peter, "P. Witt Street Railway Car", issued 1916 
  2. ^ Tellini, Fabrizio (June 2009). "Sessantenni in linea". I Treni (in Italian). No. 316. pp. 24–29.
  3. ^ Bevere, Eduardo, 1959- (1998–1999). Storia dei trasporti urbani di Napoli e delle linee interurbane gestite dalla SATN, dalle Tramvie di Capodimonte e dalle Aziende municipalizzate. Chiaro, Gerardo, 1959-, Cozzolino, Andrea, 1948-. Cortona: Calosci. ISBN 8877851457. OCLC 40954549.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ a b "Трамвайный поезд ЛМ-33 №4275 + ЛП-33 №4454 ("Американка")" (in Russian).
  5. ^ "Reconditioned Peter Witt Trolley". Gomaco Trolley Company. Retrieved 2016-03-21.