Transportation Deployment Casebook/2022/New Brunswick


Streetcars are light rail transit vehicles that are powered by electricity and run on tramway tracks; some include segments on segregated right-of-way. [1] Most streetcars carry passengers and occasionally also haul freight.

Technological characteristicsEdit

Streetcars' vehicles are usually lighter and shorter than rapid transit trains and they used to be the mainstream public transit mode in over one hundred cities of North America in the early-20th century. As an early light rail vehicle, it was initially powered by horse and with the development of technology, and then gasoline, steam and cable driven by electricity took the stage as mechanical energy sources. [2] Today, most trams use electrical power, usually fed by a pantograph sliding on an overhead line.

Main advantages and marketsEdit

One of the advantages over earlier modes of transportation was the low rolling resistance of the metal wheels on the rails, allowing the streetcar to carry a greater load for a given effort. As a result of the design of the streetcar, a rider would feel much more comfortable compared with the traditional horsecars since it is a more smooth ride. Moreover, a streetcar carried a larger number travelers per vehicle. This feature would allow a substantially large number of transit users being able to travel from original to destination at the same time. It consequently increased access of city dwellers from the crowded city centre to the new and growing communities, and this was the form of suburb where people began to settle down and took a streetcar to the downtown for commuting. [3] Besides, The government saw the gradual rise of the suburbs. On the one hand, it increased investment in transportation to benefit the people. On the other hand, the population growth in the suburbs brought more housing demand. This attracted more investment from real estate developers, which is conducive to the improvement of government finances.[4] After the rise of automation, people were willing to pay for this convenient transport mode; the tram undisputedly replaced the horse-drawn carriage in urban public transport. It has become the first choice for working class travel living in the suburb. Its market expansion is highly coordinated with the urban sprawl of the metropolis.

Era before StreetcarsEdit

Before the official introduction of electric streetcars in Canada, horsecar and omnibuses driven by horses or mules had been used as the important means of transportation systems. It is partly because steam locomotives were not suitable for land use as they scared horses and were dirty to city dwellers. During the period of 1820s to 1880s, Toronoto had 'horse power' trams in operation in 1845, Montreal in the 1860s and soon after other Canadian cities followed the trend.[5]

However, horse dirven streetcars were never an ideal transportation. Overwhelmingly heavy loads could not be hauled by horse, and the animals were expensive and needed to rest frequently. This reduced the reliability of the system; also the illness of animals directly impacted the network stability. [6] Given these factors, the operation of animal railway did last too long: the horsecar system in St John of New Brunswick operated from 23 August 1869 to early 1876 - solely 7 years. Moncton, the second largest city in New Brunswick, did not even implement it. Many street car operators had realized the demerits of horse-driven transportation, and started to transfer to other types of motive power. [7] During the transition period, steam dummies or cables cars was attempted in the US and Canada. It eliminated the negative impact from animal drive power mentioned.

Birth of electricity StreetcarsEdit

Werner von Siemens demonstrated the world's first electric locomotive at the 1879 Berlin Fair. The reply was worth seeing: Siemens and halsk have received inquiries from all over the world about the investment and operation cost of electrified railway. But that's not enough to satisfy the company's founders: for Warner, electric locomotives are just an experimental model. Now he is planning an electric transport system with a lofty vision: an elevated railway in central Berlin. As early as 1867, Werner von Siemens was excited about the potential application of dynamic electrical principles he discovered the previous year and dreamed of "building a railway on the iron pillars on the streets of Berlin and running on electricity". Around 1880, electrical pioneers tried to obtain the concession of Friedrich stra and Leipzig Strass elevated electrical railway in Berlin to prove the operation and applicability of a promising new transportation system for daily use.[8]

Lifecycle of Streetcars in New Brunswick (1893 - 1948)Edit

Generally speaking, Tram began to operate in St.John of New Brunswick in the era of local horse powered transportation. It expanded rapidly with electrification and fade away with the shift of public policy to rubber tire vehicles. Recently, it has become light rail transportation again. The electricity streetcar were mainly distributed on St.John and Moncton, which operated respectively from 1893 and 1896, to 1931 and 1948.

Early market development (1894 - 1904)Edit

The Saint John streetcar system was the first public transit system in the state of Arizona. 1893 was the birth year of Saint John streetcar. [9] It was operated by the Consolidated Electric Company. However, the company was sold at bankrunptcy auction on 7 April 1897. Then, the system was suceeded by the Saint John Railway Company. At that time, streetcars stretched up and down Main Street, Douglas Avenue and throughout the city's south end. [10] In fact, before the introduction of electric streetcars, St.John had already had its own Saint John city railway that is animal railway starting from 17 October 1887.

The idea for a street railway system was proposed by Charles Young of St. Stephen in 1891. The street railway become reality with financial assistance from several influential businessmen among the area. The Province of New Brunswick approved the operation of the line for fifteen years. On July 4, 1894 the streetcar system began its operation. The route began from the car barns in Calais, Maine, travelled up Main Street to North Street and then to Milltown, Maine where it crossed over the Milltown Bridge in to St. Stephen.

During the early developing period, the length of tracks in was 12 miles. For a certain line, a person was able to travel by street covering the distance of 7 miles for five cents, which not ony provided infrastructure for new immigrants and international labour, but also enhanced relations between communities.

The growing period (1905-1920)Edit

The length of tracks for New Brunswick grew from 12 up to 29 miles, in which St. John doubled its electric streetcars mileage, Moncton and St.Stephen respectively built their streetcar system. Moncton Tramways, Electricity and Gas Company was responsible for the operation in Moncton; St.Stephen Street Railway company took charge of the tracks and interestingly, for this cross-border railway, road is controlled by the Calais Street Ry Company of the US.

With the development of this transportation, the streetcar suburb was generated. In the St.John, neighbourhoods near suburb were intended to be towards the Uptown. However, the growth was not always smooth. In 1914, there took place a disgraceful disorder: about 10,000 people gathered after the city's trolleybus conductors and car drivers went on strike. Under cover of darkness, the crowd overturned two streetcars, thwarted the cavalry charge, smashed every window in the traction company's offices, poured cement over the generators, and plunged the city into darkness.[11]

Maturity and decline (1921-1948)Edit

Sponsorship funding has declined since the early 1920s. The system is in deficit and unable to bear operating costs. Moreover, streetcars failed the competition with Buses and automobile. In 1927, the principal system in St.John, New Brunswick Power Company introduced the first bus for sightseeing service, and then the fitst buses used in transit service 1936. This forced to close its street railway by the city of St.John.[12] In Moncton, Grey Bus Line Company became the principal system, and in 1921, it began route in direct competition to the "John Street" streetcar route. In 1926, there were 5 more buses line. [13]

At the same time, The rapid development of automobiles has begun to change the way people travel. Such tram system was no match for the convenience of a car, and due to noise complaints, streetcars were gradually being replaced by grey buses. The Great Depression of 1930-1932 accelerated the decline of streetcars. Tracks are gradually removed. In 1948, streetcar service ended in New Brunswick.[2]

Reborn as light rail transit?Edit

Technological changes came into play again in the 1970s and 1980s, using modern articulated car trains (with multiple body sections connected together by flexible joints) to provide transportation services with many of the characteristics of traditional "heavy-duty" rapid transportation at lower costs. Light rail transit services capable of running on city streets are restoring street rail.[2] However, New Brunswick is mainly relying on its intercity bus service as the principle public transit system. The reborn light rail systems currently exist in Ontario and Alberta.

Quantitative AnalysisEdit

'McGraw Electric Railway Manual – the red book of American street railway investment' give access to several valueable data of all the streetcar systems in the US and some of its neighbors between 1894 and 1920. Table 1 shows the length of tracks of each streetcar system in New Brunswick in that period:

Table 1: Length of tracks (miles) in New Brunswick

Miles of track
Year Moncton St.John St.Stephen Total
1894 0 5 0 5
1897 0 12 0 12
1898 0 12 0 12
1899 0 12 0 12
1900 0 12 0 12
1901 0 12 0 12
1902 0 12 0 12
1903 0 12 0 12
1904 0 12 0 12
1905 0 13 0 13
1906 0 15.5 0 15.5
1907 0 15.5 0 15.5
1908 0 15.5 3 18.5
1909 0 19.5 3 22.5
1910 0 19.5 3 22.5
1911 0 19.5 3 22.5
1912 0 19.5 0 19.5
1913 0 19.5 0 19.5
1914 4 22.5 0 26.5
1917 4 25 0 29
1918 2.5 25 0 27.5
1919 2.5 25 0 27.5
1920 2.5 25 0 27.5

The S-curve regression modelEdit

Using S-curves (status vs. time), identify the periods of birthing, growth, and maturity for streetcars system in New Brunswick. A three-parameter logistic function is estimated:



S(t) is the status measure (miles of tracks in this model)

t is time (usually in years),

t0 is the inflection time (year in which 1/2 K is achieved),

K is saturation status level,

b is a coefficient.

K and b are to be estimated.

When modelling the regression of track length, it is supposed to test the S-max value. It is noticeable that when the K is equal to 37, there is the highest R-square. This indicates that it modle has the best of goodness fit when the saturation status is estimated as 80 miles, as illustrated in Figure below:

Next, the regression analysis is applied to estimate two cofficients . The result of the regression is as follows:

Table 2: Regression statistics

Regression Statistics
Multiple R 0.948027
R Square 0.898756
Adjusted R Square 0.893935
Standard Error 0.265932
Observations 23

Table 3: Regression Results

Variable Description Value
  Saturation Status Level 37
  Coefficient 0.103679811
  Inflection time 1908


1. The R square of the model is 0.898756, meaning that the model has an acceptable goodness of fit, approximately 89.88% of the value of miles of track in the state can be explained by the indepedent variable.

2. The P-value of the independent variable (i.e., year) is less than 0.01, meaning that the years as the independent variable in this model are statistically significant in predicting the miles of tracks in that corresponding year.

3. According to the OLS model, it is predicted that the track length of the streetcar system in New Brunswick demonstrate a continuing growth trend before reaching 37 miles, the saturation status level . The increase in carstreet mileage become slow and actully witnesses a significant fluctuation after 1909 in which reaching 1/2  . Accordingly the year of 1909 is the inflection time. It is consistent with the actual situation.


  1. "tram – definition". The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  2. a b c Sullivan, B. (2015). Streetcars. In The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved from
  3. Bell, R. (2017). How Cities Are Embracing Streetcars Once Again.
  4. Melosi, M.(n.d.). The Automobile Shapes The City. Retrieved from
  5. Day, J. (2015). Urban Transportation. In The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved from
  6. Bellis, M. (2020). The History of Streetcars - Cable Cars. Retrieved from
  7. Roger grant, H. (2010). "Transport Design: A Travel History. By Gregory Votolato. The Historian 72 (1): 250–251. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6563.2009.00260_75.x. ISSN 0018-2370.
  8. Dittler, S. (2020). A detour to success: The world’s first electric streetcar. Siemens.Com Global Website.
  9. Angus, F. (1979). Loyalist city streetcars: The story of street railway transit in Saint John, New Brunswick. Retrieved from
  10. CBC News (2012). Century-old streetcar rails unearthed in Saint John. Retrieved from
  11. Babcock, R. (1982). The Saint John Street Railwaymen's Strike and Riot, 1914. Acadiensis, 11(2), 3-27.
  12. Angus (1979) Bus Industry, Vol. 20, No. 76, June 2005, pp. 30-31
  13. Wyatt, D.(n.d.) Principal System of Moncton, New Brunswick. Retrieved from