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Philadelphia Transportation Company

The Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC) was the main public transit operator in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1940 to 1968. A private company, PTC was the successor to the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company (PRT), in operation since 1902, and was the immediate predecessor of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).[2]

Philadelphia Transportation Company
Phila. 1968 - PCC trolley on route 50 meeting a Brill trolley bus, 7th & Snyder.jpg
A PCC-type trolley and a Brill trackless trolley of PTC, wearing the company's standard paint scheme of green-and-cream in 1968.
LocalePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Transit type
Headquarters200 W. Wyoming Avenue,[1]
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Began operationJanuary 1, 1940
Ended operationSeptember 30, 1968 (taken over by SEPTA)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) (rapid transit lines)
5 ft 2 14 in (1,581 mm) (trolley/streetcar lines)
PTC fare tokens



PTC was established on January 1, 1940, by the merger of the PRT and several smaller, then-independent transit companies operating in and near the city. It operated a citywide system of bus, trolley, and trackless trolley routes, the Market–Frankford Line (subway-elevated rail), the Broad Street Line (subway), and the Delaware River Bridge Line (subway-elevated rail to City Hall, Camden, New Jersey, and now part of the PATCO Speedline) which became SEPTA's City Transit Division. PTC operated the rapid transit lines in urban Philadelphia – principally the Market–Frankford Line and Broad Street Line – leasing their fixed infrastructure from the City of Philadelphia. Most suburban transit lines were operated by Suburban Transportation Company known as Red Arrow (Trolley Lines, Southern Penn Bus Company (Bus Lines) and Philadelphia & Western Railway (Norristown and Stratford high Speed Lines). PTC's network also included the Philadelphia trolleybus system, which was much smaller,[3] along with numerous bus lines.

Among PTC's first actions was to begin replacing its aging fleet of vehicles. In 1940, the company placed orders for 130 PCC streetcars, 50 trackless trolleys, and 53 motor buses.[4]

In 1944, during the Second World War, white PTC workers engaged in a wildcat strike aimed at preventing the promotion of African American employees to conductors and other positions. The strike ended when President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered troops into the city to run the cars.[5]

In 1955,[6] majority control of PTC was acquired by the National City Lines holding company, which had a record of replacing trolleys with buses in other cities.[2][4] NCL followed suit in Philadelphia. In 1954, the PTC trolley system included 45 lines, using more than 1,500 trolley cars.[6] Between 1954 and 1958, three-fourths of the trolley lines were abandoned, and 984 trolley cars had been scrapped, replaced by 1,000 new buses.[4]

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) was established in 1964, as part of efforts by the Pennsylvania legislature to coordinate government subsidies to various transit and railroad companies in southeastern Pennsylvania. The provision of public transit service was becoming increasingly unprofitable in the 1950s and 1960s,[2] and cities across the country were municipalizing their transit systems or creating regional public transit authorities. SEPTA acquired the Philadelphia Transportation Company in 1968, taking possession of PTC at noon on September 30, 1968.[7] The total price paid to PTC stockholders for the purchase was $47.9 million[1] (equivalent to $345 million in 2018[8]).

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Meyer, Eugene L. (September 29, 1968). "SEPTA to Take Over PTC Tomorrow, To Cap Five Years of Negotiations". The Sunday Bulletin. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Section 1, p. 8. Archived from the original on August 9, 2019. Retrieved 2019-08-20.
  2. ^ a b c Hepp, John (2013). "Public Transportation". The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. Rutgers University. Archived from the original on March 31, 2019. Retrieved 2019-08-20.
  3. ^ Sebree, Mac; Ward, Paul (1974). The Trolley Coach in North America. Los Angeles: Interurbans. pp. 209–212. LCCN 74020367.
  4. ^ a b c Schneider, Fred W.; Carlson, Stephen P. (1983). PCC From Coast to Coast. (Glendale, California): Interurban Press. pp. 140–146. ISBN 0-916374-57-2.
  5. ^ Everts, Bart. An Anniversary to Forget. 2014. Hidden City Philadelphia. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  6. ^ a b Springirth, Kenneth C. (2008). Southeastern Pennsylvania Trolleys. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 10–11. ISBN 978-0-7385-5692-5.
  7. ^ "Where Were You When SEPTA Took Control of P.T.C.?". SEPTA. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
  8. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2019.

Further readingEdit

  • Wolfinger, James. Running the Rails: Capital and Labor in the Philadelphia Transit Industry (Cornell University Press, 2016). xii, 292 pp. ISBN 978-1-5017-0240-2.