Philadelphia, always a hotbed of electric traction with streetcars (including an extensive trolley subway), elevated and underground rapid transit, suburban MU operation and electrically-propelled intercity trains, will be the site of our 2008 Annual Convention. This year’s convention will treat participants to much of what Philadelphia has to offer, including travel by chartered coach to the Rockhill Trolley Museum in Orbisonia, Pennsylvania on Saturday, a four-hour Heritage PCC Fantrip on Sunday throughout West Philadelphia on lines that are normally operated with Kawasaki units, and a NJT River Line charter and shop tour on Monday.
The Crowne Plaza Hotel Philadelphia Center City will be our convention headquarters. At 1800 Market Street in downtown Philadelphia, it is only a short walk from the 19th & Market station of the SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) trolley subway and from the City Hall area stations of both the Market-Frankford and Broad Street subways. It is also easily reachable from Philadelphia International Airport and Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, via MU train to Penn Center (Suburban Station). This full-service hotel offers such amenities as a health and fitness center, spa and an outdoor swimming pool. Single, double and twin accommodations are priced at $129 plus tax per evening and include a free group continental breakfast in our own private breakfast room.
Our annual movie/slideshow and banquet will be held at the Crowne Plaza. To avoid missing a single convention activity, plan to arrive in Philadelphia no later than Friday afternoon, August 29. While we will be using chartered cars for our events, SEPTA offers an daily unlimited ride ticket, good for 8 rides on buses, subway trains and trolleys (including the Norristown line) for $6.00, with senior citizens able to ride these services free of charge ($1.00 to ride intrastate commuter trains). Medicare cards must be presented to operators or conductors as proof of senior citizen status.
Our convention will begin at 7 PM at the Crowne Plaza with an opportunity to meet local traction fans. At 7:30 PM long-time member Russ Jackson will present a movie show featuring bygone days of street railways in the Delaware Valley. Russ is a long-time member of the ERA and has spent most of his working career in the electric railway industry.
Today is a very busy day, as we have to travel quite a distance to get to the Rockhill Trolley Museum in Orbisonia, Pennsylvania. Our chartered coach(es) will leave the hotel at 7:55 AM Our group continental breakfast will be available from 7:00 AM A brief stop will be made at Manheim, Pennsylvania, to view and photograph the operation of restored Conestoga Traction Company Brill Birney car 236. We expect to arrive at the trolley museum at noon, where the folks will supply a picnic lunch to our group (included in the price of the day’s activities). Throughout our 4-hour visit we will be able to view and ride the organization’s collection, which includes cars such as a rare Brill-built curveside car from York, a double-truck Birney from Bangor/Johnstown, a PCC from Philadelphia, a P&W Bullet car, an open car from Rio de Janeiro and some 4-wheelers from Porto. Of special interest will be the chance to get a close up look at one of the former North Shore Line Electroliners that was operated as a Libertyliner on Red Arrow’s Norristown line. The museum folks will pull out all the stops for us.
The trolley museum is adjacent to the narrow-gauge East Broad Top Railroad, and participants may order a reduced cost round trip ticket for the 1 PM departure of this unique steam-operated line. We plan to return to Philadelphia between 7 and 8 PM, so dinner can be obtained individually.
For many oldtimers, it is hard to imagine that the once prolific streamlined PCC cars are now considered heritage equipment. SEPTA rebuilt a fleet of its 1947-48-built streamliners with air conditioning and operates the cars in regular transit service. We will charter one or two of these PCCs for a four-hour fantrip throughout West Philadelphia on Route 15-Girard Avenue, a line that normally operates with Kawasaki units. The trip will begin at 9:45 AM from Elmwood carhouse along SEPTA’s route 36. Our group continental breakfast will be available to hotel guests from 8 AM It is recommended that participants board a westbound route 36 streetcar at the 19th and Market Streets station at 9:10 AM for the 30-minute journey to Elmwood. Those that miss this departure may join the trip at the 40th Street trolley subway portal at about 10:10 AM There will be no lunch stop. The charter is scheduled to end at 1:45 PM at Elmwood Carhouse, near a number of fast food outlets that may be patronized for lunch.
ERA’s Annual Banquet will be held in a private room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. An hour-long informal reception and cash bar will begin at 7:00 PM, and dinner will follow promptly at 8:00. Our guest speaker is long-time railfan and ERA member Al Fazio. Mr. Fazio is general manager of New Jersey Transit’s River Line, which he portrays as a modern, interurban line. Working in the industry for many years, he was also president of 21st Century Rail, the operator of New Jersey Transit’s Hudson-Bergen light rail system. His illustrated presentation will address the development of light rail, what lessons can be taken and adopted from past streetcar and interurban lines, and what the future bodes for this highly flexible and successful mode of transit.
Today is a very busy day with several events. Our morning activities include chartered cars on the SEPTA Red Arrow Media, Sharon Hill and Norristown lines. After lunch we will travel to the adjacent state of New Jersey for a charter aboard the diesel light rail cars of the NJ Transit River Line. Included will be a Shop Tour. Our group continental breakfast will be available to hotel guests from 7:00 AM With our charter beginning at the Route 101/102 platforms at 69th Street Terminal at 8:30 AM, we will ride the Market Frankford Subway-Elevated at 8:00 AM from the 15th and Market station to 69th Street. After covering the entire Sharon Hill and Media lines with photo stops, we will transfer to one or two railcars for the run to Norristown, which will include photo stops in one direction and a non-stop speed run in the other. We expect to arrive back at 69th Street at about 12 noon.
Participants will have to reach our afternoon activities on their own. A chartered train will pick us up at the Walter Rand River Line station at 1:45 PM. This station can be reached by riding the Market-Frankford Subway-Elevated to 8th Street and then a PATCO (Port Authority Transit Corporation) train to Broadway. Lunch may be acquired at 69th Street (there is a McDonalds a few blocks south of Market), 8th Street (Burger King, south of Market), at the food court in The Gallery at Market East near 11th and Market, or at a location of your choice. Running time from 69th Street to 8th is approximately 20 minutes and PATCO leaves 8th Street every 20 minutes for the 7-minute journey to Broadway. Current schedules indicate a 1:20 PM PATCO departure, but announcements will be made about any changes on the day of our trip.
We will ride from Walter Rand to the inbound Entertainment Center terminal with several photo stops and then out to the 36th Street for a shop tour. Late passengers may join us at Walter Rand at 2:15 PM. Our private train will then proceed to Trenton, with a return to 36th Street and a connection to Camden. The trip should conclude before 6 PM. Some participants may prefer to ride SEPTA regional railroad service back to Philadelphia from Trenton, at their own expense.
Senior Citizens (with Medicare cards) ride free on SEPTA rapid transit trains, streetcars and buses, which includes travel to and from ERA events. Others may purchase a $6.00 Convenience (day) Pass (available at the SEPTA Transit Store or at downtown commuter railroad stations) or pay regular one-way exact fares ($2.00)
Fare between Philadelphia and Broadway Camden is $1.15 each way, purchasable from machines. Through fares to SEPTA from New Jersey may be purchased for $2.10. Senior Citizens get no discount without a special card, but need not buy through tickets to SEPTA.
Those leaving the ERA trip early must buy a flat fare River Line ticket from a machine. Regular fare is $1.35 and Senior Citizen fare (over 62 years old) is 65¢.
Timetables mentioned herein are subject to change, but announcements will be made to update necessary information during ERA events. Timetables for SEPTA, PATCO and New Jersey Transit rail services are available on the respective organizations’ internet sites.