On October 4, 1880, Newark's first
electric trolley line -- the Springfield Avenue line -- began operations.
It started in downtown Newark and
traveled up to Irvington.
It was followed, within weeks, by
the Central Avenue line, and then the Orange line on Orange Street.
By 1900, a decade after the first electrified trolley went into operation,
more than 300 trolleys were passing Broad and Market Streets every hour, in rush
In 1903, Thomas N. McCarter
organized the Public Service Corporation, which combined all Newark trolley
operations, as well as gas companies, and power and light companies.
By 1910, more than 552 trolleys
per hour were rolling on steel tracks though the Broad and Market intersection.
By 1913, with a Public Service
fleet of nearly 2,000 trolleys, traffic at the Broad and Market intersection was
600 cars per hour in rush periods, and plans were laid to build a new modern
trolley terminal on Park Place facing Military Park that would draw the trolleys
off the streets and into downtown Newark through underground approaches.
Opening of Downtown Trolley Terminal
In 1916, the new Public Service
Terminal was opened in April. The result was startling. The
600-trolley per hour rush hour volume at the Four Corners diminished to about
The trolleys feeding into the New
Terminal came in on two levels. Trolleys using the lower level basement
Terminal approached from Washington Street through a tunnel carved under Cedar
Street and Military Park.
Cars using the upper level
terminal entered from Mulberry Street on the east, using an incline bridging
Pine Street, before entering the Terminal itself.
The new Public Service Terminal
had ten loading and unloading tracks on the two levels.
Trolleys reaching the Terminal
arrived from such diverse points as Paterson, Elizabeth, Hackensack, Jersey
City, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Trenton, Caldwell, the Oranges, Irvington,
Maplewood, and later, Morristown.
With the advent of World War I in
1917, and the accompanying bustling wartime economy, motorbus as well as trolley
operations of Public Service continued to expand.
By 1923, in addition to the
200,000 bus passengers per day, the 22 trolley lines of Public Service each day
carried 330,000 passengers.
Seven years later, in 1930, Public
Service was running more than 2,000 trolley cars on 23 different street lines.
In May 1935, it added underground trolley service by opening the City Subway on
the bed of the old Morris Canal, with service from Broad Street to Heller
1935 Also Beginning of End of Street Trolleys
But even as the new City Subway
was getting underway, the year also marked the beginning of the end for the 23
street trolley lines as Public Service introduced the newly-perfected
rubber-tire trolley buses, also called 'trackless trolleys'.
This vehicle was a combination
trackless trolley and diesel-electric bus.
These vehicles, perfected by
Public Service engineers, could draw electric power from overhead electric wires
when running on established trolley routes1. A second pole was added to
allow for grounding.
When the end of the overhead
electric wires was reached, the trolley poles could be hooked down to the roof
and a gasoline or diesel engine could be started, which drove a generator that
generated the electricity needed by the electric motors to run the vehicle.
The advantage of the trolley bus
was that it didn't have to follow the rails and could pull to the curb to pick
up or discharge passengers, and the trolley poles would pivot and remain
connected to the overhead electric wires.
Phase Out of Trolley Service
With the success of the trolley
bus, by the late 1930s, Public Service laid plans to phase out street trolley
Trolley service on Broad Street
officially ended on December 18, 1937, although it took more than a decade
before all trolley service on Newark's streets finally came to an end.
The last two street trolley lines
in service, the 21 Orange, and the 29 Bloomfield, continued rolling on steel
tracks until March 30, 1952 when they made their final runs.
The Orange Street Car on that date
was replaced by the No. 22 Roseville bus.
On many discontinued street
trolley lines, the tracks remained embedded in the roadway for many years after
the trolleys had ended their runs.2
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Some Newark Street Trolley Lines*
* (If you know of or can recall any
other Newark Street Trolley lines, please
let me know and I will add them to this list).
* * *
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