Transportation Deployment Casebook/2021/Vermont Streetcar

Streetcar Urban Areas & SystemsEdit

Below are a list of urban areas and their respective streetcar systems (‘McGraw Electric Railway Manual’, 1897–1920,):

  • Barre-Montpellier
    • Barre & Montpelier Traction & Power Co. (Barre to Montpelier)
  • Bellows Falls
    • Bellows Falls & Saxton’s River Electric Railroad Co. (Bellows Falls to Saxtons River)
  • Bennington
    • Bennington & Woodford Electric Railroad Co. (Bennington to Woodford)
    • Bennington & North Adams Street Ry. Co. (Bennington to Pownal and further North Adams, Massachusetts)
  • Brattleboro
    • Brattleboro Street Railroad Co./Twin State Gas & Electric Co. Brattleboro Street Railway Division (Brattleboro Centerville to West Brattleboro)
  • Burlington
    • Burlington Traction Co.
    • Military Post Street Railway Co. (Burlington to Essex Junction and Winooski)
    • Burlington & Southeastern Railway Co. formerly Burlington & Hinesburg Ry. Co. (Burlington & Hinesburg)
  • Rutland
    • Rutland Railway, Light & Power Co./Rutland Street Railway Co. (Rutland to West Rutland, and Rutland to Fair Haven and Bomassen)
  • St. Albans
    • St. Albans & Swanton Traction Co./St. Albans Street Railway (St. Albans to St. Albans Bay Park and Swanton)
  • Springfield
    • Springfield Electric Railway Co. (Springfield to Charlestown, New Hampshire)
  • Stowe
    • Mt. Mansfield Electric Railroad Co. (Stowe to Waterbury, Palisades Park)

Qualitative AnalysisEdit

StreetcarsEdit

It is important the note that the term 'streetcar' is used almost interchangeably with other terms such as 'trolley', 'tram' and 'light-rail vehicle' (LRV) depending on the time periord, geographic region and preferencial language use. However, in Vermont during the streetcar era ranging 1885 (first streetcar) to The streetcar as a transportation mode typically describes a vehicle that moves along rails in urban environments. This includes vehicles hauled by horse, rope/cable systems and later, electric motor powered. They were primarily used for passenger transportation and occasionally, mail and industrial goods.

AdvantagesEdit

The streetcar showed several advantages during its use. Assuming the horse motive power has also been substituted, it was cheaper than horse drawn wagons, removed the pollution effect of manure; and the risk of disease reduced from animal to human interaction.

Streetcars could compete with the existing omnibus systems due to increased productivity with increased speed and larger capacity (Garrison & Levinson, 2014, pp. 120). Furthermore, the streetcar system could easily scale up in capacity to fit the market demand of the local area by deploying subsequent streetcars on a given system.

Setting the SceneEdit

Other modes that were available during the streetcar era include horse-drawn wagons (or 'omnibus'), canal systems, and steam railways.

[INSERT PICTURE]

Figure X - Horses dragging a large log to the Sawmill in Vermont

The weight capacity of a wagon was low compared to that of a car on rails. The speed of horse-drawn wagons was limited also. Typically the horse would move about 3 mph when hauling a load, and attempts to increase horse speed could lead to the frequently occurring accidents, such as overturned wagons and runaway horses (Davis, 2002, pp. 41).

Current Market EvolutionEdit

By 1910, there were approximately 80,000 horses on Vermont farms, and many more in the cities and small towns (Davis, 2002, pp. 40). At this time, it was the main form of transport that provided sufficient power for the ‘short to medium’ length trips.

For longer trips where the limited speed of horse-drawn wagons would be too costly, so travellers would transfer at a stream railway station where available, although not every town was connected to the steam railway network (Davis, 2002, pp. 41).

Given the impracticalities of horse-drawn transport for long distances, and the issues preventing steam railways to run through the urban areas, the need for an intermediary or ‘hybrid’ form of transport was apparent.

Invention of StreetcarsEdit

Early StagesEdit

What were the initial market niches?

What roles did functional enhancement (serving existing markets better) and functional discovery (serving new markets) play in market development?

Assess the role of policy in the birthing phase

Describe how policies from precursor models were borrowed, and how other policies were innovated;

Identify policies that were embedded, and those that were imposed/sanctioned by government;

Identify policies that were ‘locked in’ during this time;

GrowthEdit

The first streetcar line to open in Vermont was the Burlington to Winooski line, opening in November of 1885. At this time, horses were used to haul the streetcars.

The streetcar was not only planned to be used for commuters to workplaces, as special services would be run for theatre events and baseball games.

The Burlington to WInooski line was converted to electricity in 1893, with another line between Rutland and Fair Haven also being electrified the following year.

Early in the 20th century, Vermont had a capital investment in streetcars of more than 4.5 millions (US) dollars, with 137 cars and more than 100 miles of track. In 1902, streetcar passengers numbered close to 5.5 million people in the state.

When it came to electric railways, most were essentially interurban services, however they did travel through the centre of respective urban areas and functioned similar to the typical streetcar system.

Pre-mature CapitalEdit

In the beginning, private companies ran the streetcars. Investment into the streetcars was seen after the success of these systems in the big cities such as New York.

An example was with the Mt. Mansfield Company and their system built between Stowe and Waterbury in 1897. The service only ran 4 round trips per day with limited patronage. It was still planned however to have many extensions built to places such as Morrisville, Eden, Craftsbury, Albany, Lowell and Newport.The Mt. Mansfield Company faced many difficulties with the steep grades, heavy snowfalls, mud slides, derailments and unreliable electricity supply. Residents knew that a streetcar was climbing the hills in Shutesville when their electric globes dimmed (Davis, 2002, pp. 132).

MaturityEdit

With limited patronage and the financial hardship experienced by the private streetcar companies, the Vermont streetcar investors either made little money, or went bankrupt (Davis, 2002, pp. 132).

The Mt. Mansfield Company streetcar line between Stowe and Waterbury, while one of the longest running in the state, went out of business during the Great Depression in 1932, concluding the age of streetcars in Vermont (Davis, 2002, pp. 133).

Attempts to adapt streetcar to changing markets, competitive conditions, and policy values.

Forward Improvement OpportunitiesEdit

In the 21st century, the streetcar (tram, trolley or light-rail vehicle) is no longer the dominant mode of transport it was in the early 20th century, however they are still currently in use in many urban areas and are subject to contentious debate in the transport planning world as to their economic benefit, particularly with the 'bus' mode of transport (Newman, 2019).

Just as the streetcar is considered a hybrid form of transport between the horse-drawn omnibus and the locomotive railways of the time, the trackless tram was born out of innovation combining the automated navigation technologies from high-speed trains and autonomous vehicles, the form factor of an articulated bus, including rubber wheel technology also used on some metro train systems, and recent improvements in battery technology. A trackless tram manufactured by CRRC was first trialled in 2017 in Zhuzhou, China. It aims to dramatically reduce the large capital cost attributed to light-rail infrastructure, while functionally similar. In 2019 the capital cost of Sydney's light rail rose to about 210 million (AUD) per kiliometre, compared to an estimated 4 million (AUD) per kilometre for trackless trams (Newman, 2018).

Quantitative AnalysisEdit

An S-curve prediction model approach was selected to establish indicative birthing, growth and maturity stages for the track length (miles) data provided in the McGraw Electric Railway Manuals. The S-curve is defined by the following mathematical definition:

S(t) = Smax/[1+exp(-b(t-ti)]

where:

  • S(t) is the S-curve function of track length (miles) plotted over time (years), also the independent variable
  • t is time (years)
  • ti is the time at the inflection of the S-curve (transition between growth and maturity phase)
  • Smax is the maximum length of track achieved, and the dependent variable to be trialled during analysis
  • b is the slope coefficient of the S-curve calculated during analysis

In order to establish a best fit for the following urban areas, a range of Smax variables were trialled in a spreadsheet (Google Sheets) based on the existing available dataset of track length (miles) over time (years). The selected Smax variable was chosen based on the collective best peformance of: the t-statistics figures over time, the R squared (spreadsheet function RSQ()) and the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient (spreadsheet function CORREL()).

Barre-MontpellierEdit

t Constant Recorded Prediction
Year Track (Miles) Track (Miles)
1894 6.3820
1895 6.6972
1896 7.0015
1897 7.2931
1898 7.5705
1899 8 7.8328
1900 8 8.0790
1901 8 8.3089
1902 8 8.5223
1903 9.2 8.7194
1904 9.2 8.9005
1905 9.2 9.0662
1906 9.2 9.2173
1907 9.5 9.3544
1908 9.5 9.4785
1909 9.5 9.5905
1910 9.5 9.6912
1911 9.5 9.7816
1912 9.8626
1913 10.75 9.9350
1914 10.75 9.9995
1915 10.0571
1916 10.1082
1917 10.5 10.1537
1918 10.25 10.1940
1919 10.25 10.2298
1920 10.25 10.2615

Bellows FallsEdit

t Constant Recorded Prediction
Year Track (Miles) Track (Miles)
1894 6.8200
1895 6.9047
1896 6.9804
1897 7.0479
1898 7.1078
1899 7.1610
1900 7.2081
1901 6 7.2498
1902 6 7.2865
1903 6.5 7.3189
1904 7.5 7.3475
1905 7.5 7.3726
1906 7.5 7.3946
1907 7.5 7.4140
1908 7.5 7.4309
1909 7.5 7.4458
1910 7.5 7.4589
1911 7.5 7.4703
1912 7.4803
1913 7.4891
1914 7.5 7.4968
1915 7.5035
1916 7.5094
1917 7.5 7.5145
1918 7.5 7.5190
1919 7.5 7.5229
1920 7.5 7.5263

BenningtonEdit

t Constant Recorded Prediction
Year Track (Miles) Track (Miles)
1894 3.1946
1895 4.0935
1896 5.1699
1897 6.5 6.4189
1898 9 7.8164
1899 9 9.3175
1900 9 10.8610
1901 12.3784
1902 13.8057
1903 15.0936
1904 16.2129
1905 17.1542
1906 17.9243
1907 18.5402
1908 19.0239
1909 19.3985
1910 19.6853
1911 19.9030
1912 20.0673
1913 20.1906
1914 20.2828
1915 20.3516
1916 20.4028
1917 20.5 20.4409
1918 20.5 20.4691
1919 20.461 20.4901
1920 20.461 20.5056

BrattleboroEdit

t Constant Recorded Predicition
Year Track (Miles) Track (Miles)
1894 4.7671
1895 4.7951
1896 4.8227
1897 5 4.8499
1898 5 4.8767
1899 5 4.9030
1900 5 4.9289
1901 5 4.9544
1902 4.9794
1903 5 5.0040
1904 5 5.0282
1905 5 5.0520
1906 5 5.0753
1907 5 5.0982
1908 5 5.1207
1909 5 5.1428
1910 5 5.1645
1911 5 5.1858
1912 5.25 5.2067
1913 5.25 5.2272
1914 5.25 5.2473
1915 5.2670
1916 5.2864
1917 5 5.3053
1918 5.5 5.3239
1919 5.5 5.3421
1920 5.5 5.3599

BurlingtonEdit

t Constant Recorded Predicition
Year Track (Miles) Track (Miles)
1894 6.38 12.6555
1895 12.8594
1896 13.0615
1897 15 13.2616
1898 15 13.4595
1899 15 13.6552
1900 15 13.8485
1901 15 14.0392
1902 15 14.2274
1903 15 14.4129
1904 31 14.5956
1905 31 14.7755
1906 32 14.9523
1907 32 15.1262
1908 32 15.2969
1909 21 15.4645
1910 21 15.6289
1911 21 15.7901
1912 16 15.9480
1913 12 16.1026
1914 17 16.2538
1915 16.4018
1916 16.5464
1917 17 16.6876
1918 17 16.8255
1919 17 16.9600
1920 17 17.0912

RutlandEdit

t Constant Recorded Predicition
Year Track (Miles) Track (Miles)
1894 8 4.8975
1895 5.7891
1896 6.8047
1897 8 7.9480
1898 8 9.2178
1899 10 10.6072
1900 9 12.1029
1901 10 13.6851
1902 10 15.3280
1903 10 17.0015
1904 25 18.6729
1905 25 20.3100
1906 25 21.8830
1907 25 23.3668
1908 25 24.7423
1909 25 25.9970
1910 25 27.1248
1911 25 28.1252
1912 30.5 29.0022
1913 30.5 29.7631
1914 30.5 30.4174
1915 30.9757
1916 31.4490
1917 33.5 31.8480
1918 33.5 32.1827
1919 28.3 32.4625
1920 28.3 32.6955

St. AlbansEdit

t Constant Recorded Predicition
Year Track (Miles) Track (Miles)
1894 12.6435
1895 12.6739
1896 12.7038
1897 12.7334
1898 12.7626
1899 12.7914
1900 12.8198
1901 12.8478
1902 12.8754
1903 13 12.9027
1904 13 12.9295
1905 13 12.9560
1906 13 12.9822
1907 13 13.0080
1908 13 13.0334
1909 13 13.0584
1910 13 13.0831
1911 13 13.1075
1912 13.1315
1913 13.1551
1914 13 13.1785
1915 13.2014
1916 13.2241
1917 13.333 13.2464
1918 13.333 13.2684
1919 13.333 13.2901
1920 13.333 13.3114

SpringfieldEdit

t Constant Recorded Predicition
Year Track (Miles) Track (Miles)
1894 6.9569
1895 7.1318
1896 7.3008
1897 5 7.4638
1898 7.5 7.6206
1899 8 7.7709
1900 8 7.9147
1901 8 8.0520
1902 8 8.1828
1903 9 8.3070
1904 9 8.4249
1905 9 8.5365
1906 9 8.6419
1907 9 8.7413
1908 9 8.8350
1909 9 8.9231
1910 9 9.0058
1911 9 9.0833
1912 9.1559
1913 9.2239
1914 8.5 9.2874
1915 9.3466
1916 9.4019
1917 9 9.4534
1918 9 9.5013
1919 9 9.5459
1920 10 9.5874

StoweEdit

t Constant Recorded Prediction
Year Track (Miles) Track (Miles)
1894 12.1686
1895 12.1543
1896 12.1390
1897 12.1229
1898 12 12.1057
1899 12 12.0876
1900 12 12.0683
1901 12 12.0479
1902 12 12.0263
1903 12 12.0034
1904 12 11.9791
1905 12 11.9535
1906 12 11.9263
1907 12 11.8975
1908 12 11.8670
1909 12 11.8348
1910 12 11.8008
1911 12 11.7648
1912 11.7267
1913 11.6866
1914 11.25 11.6442
1915 11.5994
1916 11.5522
1917 11.25 11.5024
1918 11.25 11.4499
1919 11.25 11.3946
1920 11.25 11.3364

VermontEdit

Finally, the totalled streetcar track length data for the entirety of Vermont presents the following results:

t Constant Recorded Predicition
Year Track (Miles) Track (Miles)
1894 14.38 26.8870
1895 31.4236
1896 36.4498
1897 39.5 41.9308
1898 56.5 47.8056
1899 67 53.9873
1900 66 60.3666
1901 64 66.8192
1902 59 73.2148
1903 79.7 79.4279
1904 111.7 85.3468
1905 111.7 90.8815
1906 112.7 95.9676
1907 113 100.5672
1908 113 104.6669
1909 102 108.2740
1910 102 111.4119
1911 102 114.1147
1912 51.75 116.4228
1913 58.5 118.3797
1914 103.75 120.0284
1915 121.4103
1916 122.5634
1917 127.583 123.5223
1918 127.833 124.3171
1919 122.594 124.9742
1920 123.594 125.5165

[INSERT PICTURE HERE]

Figure 1 - Street Railway Construction in Saxtons River. (Rockingham Free Public Library, n.d.)

BibliographyEdit

Davis, A. F. (2002). Postcards from Vermont: A Social History, 1905–1945 (1st ed.). Lebanon, New Hampshire: UNPE.

Newman, P. (2019, October 22). Trackless trams v light rail? It’s not a contest – both can improve our cities. Retrieved 24 March 2021, from https://theconversation.com/trackless-trams-v-light-rail-its-not-a-contest-both-can-improve-our-cities-125134

Newman, P. (2018, September 25). Why trackless trams are ready to replace light rail. Retrieved 24 March 2021, from https://theconversation.com/why-trackless-trams-are-ready-to-replace-light-rail-103690

Garrison, W. L., & Levinson, D. M. (2014). The Transportation Experience: Policy, Planning, and Deployment (2nd ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

McGraw Electric Railway Manual. (1897–1920). Electric Railway Journal, 1. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015089286168

ImagesEdit

Rockingham Free Public Library. (n.d.). Street Railway Construction in Saxtons River. Laying track along Main Street. [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://rockinghamlibrary.org/history/items/show/1674