THE TIME OF THE TROLLEY, William D. Middleton, Kalmbach Publishing Co., Milwaukee WS, 1967.
p. 86 Electric trolleys led to "a tremendous growth in pleasure travel" in years just before WWI.
"Even if people had no place in particular to go, they boarded the cars for the sheer pleasure of trolley riding. Huge fleets of open-air cars provided respite from the hot summer weather…A ride on the cars was a cheap and popular way to court a young lady."
Many street railway companies operated their own amusement parks ("electric parks"), which of course couldn't be reached except by trolley.
p. 88 Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company operated Willow Grove Park.
Pp 88-90 Kennywood Park (opened 1899), about 12 miles from Pittsburgh, had a lake suitable for boating, "tennis courts, croquet grounds, bowling alleys, a general sports field, and a baseball diamond…a merry-go-round and a three-way figure-8 toboggan slide…bandstand and an outdoor concert pavilion…A dancing pavilion was among the most popular features."
p. 92 Some companies had fancy cars that could be chartered for the day. "The luxuriously appointed trolley cars were usually fitted with comfortable wicker or upholstered lounge chairs, heavy plush carpeting, plate glass windows, and draperies. Interiors were customarily finished in wood paneling and carvings, and the cars sometimes had brass-rail-enclosed observation platforms." These cars often used by company brass, or for sightseeing tours.
p. 93 before WWI, trolleys were sometimes used as funeral cars. Was fairly common. "during the late 1890s…almost every major city had one or more special cars operating to on-line cemeteries."
Very occasionally, trolley car weddings.
p. 95 trolleys used for street sprinkling; removing ash and garbage to disposal places; sometimes outfitted as fire engines.
p. 96 Railway Post Office cars began use around 1890. These cars often converted from old passenger equipment. Painted white, trimmed and lettered in gold. Letter drops on each side; some regular passenger cars had letter boxes. RPOs replaced by trucks by 1915 in most cities; Baltimore kept theirs until 1929.
p. 100 Special decorated cars for holidays; Christmas trolleys common.
p. 102 "The Keystone Kops, Laurel and Hardy, Harold Lloyd, and Buster Keaton were among the great comedians of the movies' early years who made frequent use of the cars as comedy props."
p. 103 "By 1917 when street railway systems reached the peak of their physical expansion, electric traction had become a giant industry. There were well over 60,000 streetcars in operation on some 26,000 miles of street railway trackage, and the electric railway industry, exclusive of rapid transit systems or interurbans, represented an investment in excess of 4 billion dollars. Street railway traffic was close to 11 billion passengers a year, and annual operating revenues were in the vicinity of 600 million dollars."
p. 112 Methods of payment: "Pay-As-You-Enter" originated 1905 meant better passenger traffic flow as well as assurance fare was paid.
p. 113 Variations: PRT evolved the "Pay-Within" car, a variation of the PAYE "in which the conductor was located with the car body facing the rear platform rather than on the platform itself." PRT also developed "Pay-As-You-Leave" car--enter at front, pay at rear as you leave [some of the high-speed line cars to the Philly suburbs still use that method!]. PRT designed and widely used the "Near-Side" car (p. 115). "Large double doors, one for loading and one for unloading, were provided at the front platform; and the conductor, who was located directly behind the motorman, collected fares from passengers as they boarded the car. A small rear door was used only for emergencies." Philly had 1500 of these cars, which had a low accident rate because the motorman controlled the doors.
p. 120 A picture of a Philadelphia trolley in 1919! It's a 42, and the front of the car says it goes to Front and Chestnut. [So does the 42 bus that I ride to work every day! In the other direction from my job, I mean.] PRT logo on the side panels; also the car's number. The front of the car says "Fare ready please."
p. 185 "Fairmount Park Transit Company, which operated an 8-mile trolley line entirely within the confines of 4000-acre Fairmount Park. The only Philadelphia line never merged into the PRT system, the quaint line was still running its original cars when in closed in 1946 after a half century of operation."
p. 122 After WWI, trolleys threatened by "wildcat 'jitney' buses and privately owned automobiles." New lightweight cars were made which had much lower operating costs.
There's a chapter on various accidents that occurred on street railways.
Nice section in back on trolley technology.