Photos courtesy of Philadelphia Area Traction
By Anthony Campisi
The light rail line service the Delaware River Port Authority is proposing along the riverfront wouldn’t be the first time in recent history that trolleys have lumbered along the tracks laid in the center of Columbus Boulevard.
That distinction goes to the Penn’s Landing trolley, a tourist line that ran from the Ben Franklin Bridge to Fitzwater Street, starting in 1982.
The line was operated by the Buckingham Valley Trolley Association, a nonprofit that bought old trolley cars and preserved them for posterity. It ran some of those trolleys along the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad in Bucks County through the latter half of the 1970s, until ownership at the railroad changed and the tourist line was closed down.
Luckily for the BVTA, the Belt Line Railroad, which owns the right of way along Columbus Boulevard, asked the group to set up shop in Philadelphia. The city wanted the BVTA to operate trolleys along the river as part of the 300th anniversary celebrations commemorating William Penn’s landing in Pennsylvania.