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Philadelphia & West Chester Traction Company
(P&WCTCo) 85

J.G. Brill Company, 1932
Philadelphia, West Chester

Principal Features

  • Double end suburban car
  • Double truck
  • Lightweight Aluminum body
  • Leather reversible seats
  • "Automobile" styling"


The "80's" cars served Philadelphia’s western suburbs for 50 years. Their last 15 years of service saw them used primarily in rush hour service. Car 85 was withdrawn from service and acquired by the NCTM in 2014. For the NCTM collection, P&WCTCo 85 represents the transition in electric railway design, construction, and technology between arch roof cars and the PCC.
P&WCTCo 85 is in storage awaiting restoration.

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Both the Electric City Museum and Pennsylvania Trolley Museum have restored streetcars from the same group as P&WCTCo 85. Their descriptions of the history of these cars are below.

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Electric City Trolley Museum




Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Co. #80 (Electric City Museum)
P&WCTCo#80 video
Take a ride on J.G. Brill "Master Unit" car of 1932 as it operates an Electric City Trolley Museum service between Moosic and Scranton, Pennsylvania. June 15, 2014. Enthusiast video by Roger DuPuis.
Car #80 was one of ten lightweight "Master Unit" style cars delivered by J.G. Brill to Philadelphia and West Chester Traction in 1932. These cars addressed mounting competition from the automobile by introducing sleek lines, contemporary automotive styling features and cushioned leather seats to the Red Arrow service. Car #80 endured in service until retired and sold in 1982 by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). It has been returned to its early all-reddish-brown PSTC paint scheme and continues to operate at the Electric City museum.
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Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
"Philadelphia & West Chester Traction 78"

The onset of the Great Depression brought with it a spiraling decline in the revenue and ridership of most streetcar companies. For many lines, the only answer was abandonment or motor buses. Car 78 is one of a group of ten cars purchased from the J.G. Brill Company in 1931 and 1932 by the Philadelphia and West Chester Traction Company as part of a bold plan to combat the decline while maintaining the financial health of the company through the tough economic times.
The “80 cars,” as they became known, were designed for one-man operation, equipped for high-speed running, and employed lightweight aluminum construction. The cars were so successful that five additional cars were ordered even before the initial five cars ordered had been fully delivered. These new cars were cheaper to man, and reduced power consumption, while their high-speed equipment cut the scheduled operating times and made the service even more attractive to potential riders. This, coupled with a fare reduction and consolidation of other competing forms of transit in the area enabled the management to stave off the effects of the terrible economic times, and go on to build one of the most successful privately-owned transportation companies in the country.
The consolidation of streetcar and bus operations by the Philadelphia and West Chester Traction Company in the early 1930s gave rise to discussion of changing the corporate name to better reflect the new, diversified business. In 1936, the company became the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company, and adopted the “Red Arrow Lines” logo as part of a carefully planned public relations campaign.
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More Street Cars in the Collections