Rail Transit Philadelphia Twenty Colorful Years 1969-1989 Elsner and Vible SC

Rail Transit Philadelphia Twenty Colorful Years 1969-1989 Elsner and Vible SC

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Rail Transit Philadelphia Twenty Colorful Years 1969-1989 Elsner and Vible SC
Rail Transit Philadelphia Twenty Colorful Years 1969-1989 Elsner and Vible SC 1989
Soft Cover
Copyright 1989
By Henry Elsner and Richard Vible
54 Pages
The city was green, the suburbs were red-the reference is not to political predilections, but to traditional transit car liveries in the greater Philadelphia area. For years the city streets were ruled by the green cars of the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company (PRT) and its successor Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC), while the Philadelphia Suburban Transit Company (PST) used the color indicated in its less formal title, Red Arrow Lines. The monotony was relieved only by a minority of orange rear-entrance cars in PRT days, and later by an occasional public service advertising car, a few pieces of work equipment, and the drabness of the old rapid transit cars.
All this was to change with unification, beginning in 1968, under the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). Partly by design, more often by fortuitous circumstance-sometimes disastrous-a rainbow of colors would appear on city and suburban vehicles in the following twenty years. As this is written, a standard livery finally seems to have stabilized, although some variety is still provided by the trim on the stainless-steel cars of the rapid transit lines and the PATCO (Port Authority Transportation Company) interstate fleet.
Seeking a new image after its formation, SEPTA experimented with a number of liveries, polling the public with regard to three of them. Standard schemes were adopted, then discarded, one rather quickly, the other after several years. So many cars were lost in a 1975 car-barn fire that substitute equipment hastily purchased from Toronto was put in service still in that city's colors. Bicentennial celebration of the Declaration of Independence brought a distinct livery to a select group of cars, as well as a special visitor from England and an abortive restoration project. Rehabilitation of the remaining PCC fleet brought yet another color scheme to Philadelphia streets. New cars built by Kawasaki, delivered in 1981-82, came with the new livery-later modified in proportions if not in color. Finally, emergency conditions on the former Philadelphia & Western (P&W), now officially designated the Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL) again brought second-hand cars, in 1986, this time from Chicago. They entered service in three color variants.
The same changes in livery were not always found on both city and suburban divisions; the various paint schemes overlapped in time and most were not applied to all cars, so that an amazing variety could at times be seen simultaneously.
It is easy to become accustomed to events, even somewhat unusual ones, when living through them; the eye of an outsider is often needed to bring them into focus. The editors owe thanks to Jack La Russa for insisting that a record of colorful, changing, Philadelphia traction is worthy of more than a local audience. The resulting presentation, it should be stressed, is intended neither as a history nor as a comprehensive equipment roster, and it makes no claim to evaluate policy. It is an attempt to record, within limited space, the truly remarkable kaleidoscope of colors appearing on the Philadelphia transit scene over the past two decades.

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