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The President's Conference Committee Car (PCC Car), Was The Hopeful Savior Of The Trolley Industry


In 1929, the presidents of a number of large street railway companies, convened a national conference to discuss the future of the industry. The purpose of the meetings was two fold. First, they were to discuss what they could do to stop the loss of passengers to automobiles and buses. Their second goal, was to design a modern, comfortable riding, fast accelerating trolley, that could be used as a standard streetcar in any city, and could compete against the buses and automobiles.

The new design was called the PCC car, or Presidentís Conference Committee car, after that conference. Nearly 5,000 of these cars were built from the mid 1930ís to the early 1950ís, when the last trolleys were built in this country.

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Although PCC car #1512 which belonged to D.C. Transit Company, in Washington D.C., was a little out of the ordinary, as far as PCC cars were concerned, it demonstrates how PCC streetcar technology had advanced.  This postcard shows #1512, on August 28, 1960 with it's destination sign turned to "SIGHTSEEING", as the car fulfills its duties as a sightseeing tour car in our nation's capitol.  This car was fully air conditioned, and was known as "The Silver Sightseer".  Photo from the Douglas Wornum Collection (Postcard from the collection of Rick Russell)

The PCC car, turned out to be one of the best designed, and most reliable trolleys ever built.  There are still several small fleets of PCC cars, operating in the United States today (2000), even though many of them were built in the mid 1940ís to early 1950ís.

There is still one trolley line in Boston, Massachusetts (The Mattapan-Ashmont high speed line), that operates a fleet of 11 PCC cars.  These cars are currently undergoing a program, to totally rebuild each car, so that they can continue to serve the high speed line into the new millennium.

A fleet of rebuilt PCC cars, still operate in San Francisco, California as well.  A testament to the durability of these trolleys.

Click on "LIGHT RAIL VILLAGE" to Continue your ride through the history of the trolley era.


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Page Last Updated: March 10, 2001