Transportation Deployment Casebook/2021/New Jersey Streetcar

Transit-Supportive Development in the United States- Experience and Prospects (IA transitsupporti9408nati 0).pdf


The term “Streetcars” may be unfamiliar to an individual in the modern century. Streetcars, trolleys, Trams, they may name differently, but they are equivalent and is the same mode of transport that carriage of passengers by horse-drawn, electricity and diesel. The streetcar was an important element for a city in the nineteen century. They are designed to reduce the endurance of travel within the city and enable to connect of cities together. The linkages of cities by the extension of the railway line enable cities development and economic growth. Besides economic growth, streetcars play an important role in the future development of the transportation industries. For instance, the aviation industry, road network and even during World War I & II. The following analysis will focus on the historic life cycle of street in the New Jersey state in America.


Technological CharacteristicsEdit

Before popularity of the streetcars system with numerous competitions around most of the states in the United States during the twentieth century. The streetcar was begun with a wooden rectangular container with the wheel on each side attached to horses, all the wheels were on top of a railway to maintain a constant direction. Gilbert Vanderwerken’s Omnibuses was the early example of horse-drawn street that operated in New Jersey, this was a transportation service from one city to another city within the state. With the increase in population and the invention of new technologies, electricity was widely applied to the daily living.[1] Electric streetcar became a symbol of modernity for urban cities in the United State. With the used of Frank Sprague’s inventions of the overhead electric line for electric streetcar, the major constraint of continuous electrical power supply was resolved. Later the years, Sprague’s continue to distribute to the streetcar industry by innovated Carles Van Depoele’s invention with a more efficient design and placement.

First Electric Streetcar in Allentown

Electric Streetcar is an important invention for the modern world, the technological improvement toward the evolve on electric streetcar lead to more efficiency and economy growth to a city. Prior to the existing of overhead electric wire, a horse-drawn streetcar was first stated in 1807.[2] There are several constraints for the horse-drawn streetcar. The speed and distance travelled are never be compatible with machinery. Horses were required to maintain a strong and healthy to be able to pull such heavy streetcar container. The operational costs of a horse can be higher than machinery as a horse needs a suitable environment to stay in, the cost of a health check and feed can be as expensive as machinery. Furthermore, a horse required to have a day off to reduce stress and fatigue, an additional horse is needed to substitute when a horse is on break. With the development of more advance technology, the first mechanical steam-powered streetcars were replaced horse-drawn streetcars, steam powered is capable to travel a further distance than Horse with a higher speed. However, a steam powered train was not efficient enough, an additional weight of coal were necessary to carry for the system to boil water. The steam generated by the steam engine was a major reason that faded the steam-powered streetcar. With the safety and installation of condensers to avoid visible steam that resulted in power lost, Steam-powered streetcars were then replaced by electric streetcars. Electric streetcars included all the advantages of horse-drawn and steam streetcars. Moreover, the electric street resolved all the problem of the all the former streetcars. Electric streetcars can provide pleasant ride quality and minimize the noise level compared to an internal combustion engine and steam engine. The electric motor able to generate a smooth acceleration output than an engine that produced power by the explosion. Besides the comparison of the benefit for different streetcars, streetcars are also had few volume outputs and with better ride quality than other buses.[3] The variety of combination and size of streetcars are capable to accommodate more passengers than buses, the torque generated by the electric motor is able to link-up with more than one carriage each time. Each carriage is also able to create a different environment to serve a variety of customer. For example, first class cabin and economy class etc. The designs on streetcar can be serving a wide range of customer, the attractiveness of the design can improve the demand which assists with the issue of traffic congestion and reduce air pollution. This is a network externalizes effect that the positive feedback of streetcar can lead to a positive outcome for other events.

The purpose of streetcars is carriage passenger in order to increase customer’s efficiency and extended the travel distance. The development of the streetcar is proportional to the revenue of streetcar’s businesses. The more the customer can be carry by streetcar, the more profit the streetcar company can earn. Hence, the best and most suitable environment for the operational of streetcars is in urban areas, like inside a city instead of a rural location. The major audience of streetcars in the nineteenth century was the higher income group. The residential location factors of different wage groups have a different perspective. A higher-income group where living farther tend to ridden streetcars whereas low-income group prefer walking. The high-income group prefer to spent slightly more money to exchange for more comfortable and time-saving transport to commute.

Previous Modes of Transport & LimitationEdit

As we mentioned above, the first generation of streetcar was a horse-drawn streetcar invented in UK, the model of early streetcar was began to service after the passing the Mumbles railway Act by the British Parliament in the early nineteenth century. After 25 years later, the technology was delivered to the United State by John Stephenson. [4] Horse-drawn Streetcars car simple and cost saving method for a transportation. With the technology at the time, machinery was mysterious, the operation of mechanical energy was still under development. Although horse-drawn streetcar is economical in our modern standard, the cost for one health young house was a large investment. The operational cost to maintain a horse with health body and emotional are costly and time consuming. Unlike machinery, horses has limited energy and travel distance, they are necessary to take break and require a suitable living environment. As each horse can work in a limited hours, additional horses may needed to conduct a shift duty for every horses in order to minimize stress and unnecessary illness. With the limitations of horse, a machinery is essential to improve the constraint on horse-drawn streetcar. The second generation of streetcar was innovated from a technology that from Thomas Savery. [5]Steam streetcar able to travel a further distance than horse in a longer duration and without any rest. Steam streetcars were a large improvement than former design, all the limitation on horse were resolved by the combination of coal and water resulted in high pressure. However, in order to generated heat to boil water within the system, coal was essential to carry for a long distance travel. With the under power of the steam engine and additional weight, the steam streetcars were not able to travel in a high speed. Furthermore, the most unique feature for steam streetcar was a reason for steam engine to became an end. The white smoke produces from the tunnels by steam engine whether should be limited are debatable. The steam from the tunnel on top of the engine can be an representative of steam engine, but some may argue that the steam are harmful for the environment. Nevertheless, individual argued that the smoke and noise produced from the steam engine were negative to the surrounding. Move on to the third generation, which is the tram for individual who are from overseas. Electric Tram are the last generation of streetcars before they were replaced by other mode of transport. Electric streetcars was powered by electricity connected to an overhead wires by Frank J. Sprague. [6]Although the technology of electric streetcars were more advance that the first two generation, the ride quality and noise were limited to minimum. Electric streetcars able to reduce traffic congestion and ease the delay on public roads. Electric streetcars were a great invention for transportation industry, they are still operate on some country nowadays. However, during the mid-twentieth country in the United State,  the country were moving toward another century, a petroleum and private vehicles were popular during the time. The population of private vehicle was dramatically increased while the time. [7]Streetcars was focus to came to an end as the demand was decreased significantly.

Early Market DevelopmentEdit

Jersey City & Bergen Railroad Co.  was the first operator for streetcars in New Jersey around the early 1860s. The company was responsible provide transportation service throughout the Hudson City with a horse-drawn streetcar. With the development of new technology, electric streetcars were began to replace the slow and unreliable horses. Hudson & Bergen Traction Co. was the first few companies that operate with electric streetcar at the 1893.[8] The company used of advanced technology as an investment during their development stage. Their service were surrounded the Jersey City, connecting the ferry terminal and middle of the city together. At the early twentieth century, there were more than 20 streetcars companies operating within in New Jersey. A large competition between streetcar companies at the time for more profitability.

Policy in the “Birth Phase”Edit

The 150 years of development for streetcars has gone from different major changes, the different stages of policies forced the streetcars industry to grew. With the increase on movement of upper and middle class for resident in New Jersey. The way to move resident around the state was by transport mode. Hence, the federal government began to promote and encourage the development of streetcar from 1840s. This approval lead to a dramatically increase the number of private streetcars businesses.  At the time, the Urban Mass transportation were strongly encouraging to be privatization, this lead to an even strong outcome of the privatization in streetcar industry. The streetcars business has a lot of competition at the time, businesses were trying to move to the top of the state. The competition between each streetcars company could reduce costs and improve efficiency. The fares was set by the government, the policy was set at 5 cents in 1904 to minimize over pricing and as a protection to public.[9] This is a “Lock-in” strategy to eliminate general public moving toward other mode which was their competitors. After a further development on the streetcars industry for a few decent, the industry was operating in a privatization strategy.  At the late 1880s, this was the period when the streetcar industry began to be popular. All the streetcars were converted toward electricity powered for several years, the speed of electric streetcars could travel near as twice the speed of horse-drawn streetcar. Furthermore, the fare was reduced almost half that usual, the strategy on this industry has a huge demand, made the industry was developed rapidly.

Mature and DeclineEdit

During the early twentieth century, this was the period when the streetcar industry was at the peak. Unfortunately, the industry was began to decline a few years later. Since the streetcar industry was an important element for high-income group back during the time and to the transportation industry. The Federal government established a Federal Electric Railway Commission to investigated the problem with electric streetcar. [10]There were many professional and industry expert did analysis on the issue and reported back to the commission. Dr. Delos F Wilcox conducted analysis to the problem and made up the reasons of failure and provided some suggestions to resolve the issue. Dr. Wilcox found that the industry has financial failure, policies failures and competition that causes the streetcars industry to decline. The extreme regulations on streetcars fares to public and financial management were the major elements of the failure. He also illustrated a few suggestion to eased the issue for the industry, the solutions were required the assistance from the government. A removal on additional tax for electric streetcar and increase the fare in order to cover the cost of maintenance and increase of labour costs as well as came up with a solution to eliminated competition. [11]The competition that mentioned by Dr. Wilcox was not their own competitor only. There were automobiles, like bus existing which share the same customers. The streetcars industry no longer to be monopoly for the transportation market, most of the customers/ passengers prefer the alternate as they were more flexible and able to travel in a higher speed.

Opportunity to “Re-invent” the mode for today and tomorrowEdit

Taking all the investment and lesson learnt from the development of streetcar in the past 200 years, streetcars still serve our public in the modern in a similar form. The streetcars nowadays are working in different cities in the world, there are providing a different sensation than the transportation other modern transport mode. They are able to provide a calm and point-to-point service than the existing transport. There are a few potential opportunities for streetcar to ‘re-invent’ to better serve the needs of modern world and tomorrow.

In order to reduce the air pollution emission and lower the Co2 produced by road transport, several developed countries are involved in a Paris Agreement regarding to 100% electric cars by 2050.[12] There are no longer combustion engine or any mechanical powered that will generate emission allow to roll on public road. The agreement would lead to a decrease of private vehicle. Hence, electric streetcar can be a choose of mode for travelling in a short distance, due to streetcars are more cost-efficiency and accessible as well as greater capacity than buses.

Since streetcars are a rail system, they are designed to operate in a fixed railway. The system are secured and is impossible to be congested. Streetcars are generally has a higher safety rating than buses, the possible of human errors from drivers are comparably less than automobile.[13] Moreover, even though all the vehicle on public road are forced to be electric, the issue of congestion are still existed. However, streetcars are not affected by any road condition as they are the only user on the railway road. They are still able to operate normally when the public are congested.

Quantitative analysis of the New Jersey Streetcar NetworkEdit

THE Life-Cycle ModelEdit

As we discuss above, there are 3 major cycles of streetcars throughout the approximately 150 years of development. The life-cycle model able to demonstrate the  growth and evolution over time. as shown above, the cycles are separated into 3 stages, they are birth phase, growing phase and mature phase. Each phase has a different technology and challenges for streetcars operation.

In order to identify each of the phase throughout the development of streetcar, S-curves is a useful tools to predicts the lifecycle of the mode of transport mathematically. The phases can be identify by the following equation:

S(t) =  K/(1+e)^(-b(t-t0))

-      S(t) is the technology size (mile of track)

-      K is the saturation status level

-      t is the time (In Year)

-      b is the coefficient

-      t0 is a inflection time (the point of downturns)

Hence, by knowing K, , b, we are able to assume any given year (t) by the S-Curve equation.

Parameter Value
K 1620
b 0.135293
t0 1900.193
R2 0.9543466
Graph indicating the predicted track distance vs the actual miles of tracks in New Jersey from 1894 to 1911

Analysis of the New Jersey Streetcar NetworkEdit

With a comprehensive record on each streetcars company in United States which sorted by annual record inside the McGraw Electric Railway Manual, we are able to conduct the below table to analysis the mile of streetcar track in New Jersey of a yearly basis. The manual consist a range of details on each streetcars businesses between 1894 to 1911

The result was similar to our expectation,  a slight increased on mile of track from 1897, here was the birth phase of the industry where each streetcars businesses in New Jersey were developing. The development on the growing phase is higher than expected, showing the streetcar industry was dramatically improving during the era. The peak of the industry was growing until 1908, streetcars in New Jersey was began to experience the difficulties that we had discussed above, the industry began to fading to reduce the growth rate. The graph could show how the industry perform after 1919 on the decline phase. However, due to constraints and limited resources, we are not able to analysis the mile of track for streetcars in New Jersey.


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