New Orleans celebrates 100 years of Perlry A. Thomas streetcars

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New Orleans celebrates 100 years of Perlry A. Thomas streetcars
Posted by daveklepper on Friday, November 3, 2023 1:30 AM

Nov. 2, 2023
The Perley A. Thomas streetcar began servicing the New Orleans RTA in the early 192os on the St. Charles Streetcar line, which is the oldest operating streetcar line in the World.
The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) hosted a block party on Oct. 28 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the use of the Perley A. Thomas streetcar, which was introduced on the Historic St. Charles Streetcar line throughout 1923 and 1924.

The celebration took place at the Carrollton Streetcar Barn in the Carrollton neighborhood, welcoming the community, streetcar enthusiasts and public officials for a family-friendly event with music, refreshments, activities and guided tours of the equally historic facility. New Orleans RTA’s CEO Lona Edwards Hankins hosted facility tours, featuring the craftsmen who build and maintain the streetcar system.

“It was an honor to join our community to celebrate the legacy of the Thomas A. Perley Streetcar, St. Charles Streetcar Line and the New Orleans RTA workforce that has maintained the system for generations,” Edwards Hankins said. “We hope that by celebrating our skilled craftsman and their work to maintain our iconic streetcars, we are planting seeds in our young people who may one day want to pursue careers in transit, engineering and skilled trades.”
Debuting in 1835, the St. Charles Streetcar line is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world and is registered as a National Historic Landmark by the National Historic Register in Washington, D.C. The first streetcars were pulled by steam locomotives and were later replaced by horse-drawn carriages. In 1893, the streetcar line was electrified. The iconic, green Thomas A. Perley cars were introduced in the New Orleans Streetcar system between 1923 and 1924.

New Orleans RTA notes the streetcars are revered for their artistry and meticulous construction. Of the 173 Perley A. Thomas streetcars originally ordered, 38 remain, with 10 to 13 in service on the St. Charles Streetcar line daily. The entire streetcar fleet are completely maintained by skilled New Orleans RTA electricians, welders, carpenters, machinists and painters, often using antique tools and machines dating back to the 1900s. Originally purchased for $15,000 each, the Thomas A. Perley replicas would cost nearly $4 million per car to build today.

“The RTA Board of Commissioners is proud to share the history and legacy of the Historic St. Charles Streetcar line with our community, transit enthusiasts and the thousands of visitors who come to New Orleans to experience the iconic streetcar system,” said Mark Raymond, Jr., Chairman, New Orleans RTA Board of Commissioners. “As we seek to maintain the historic aspects of this line, we are also working diligently to solve for the fact that the Thomas A. Perley cars were not originally equipped with lifts for riders who rely on wheelchairs or those with mobility challenges. We are balancing the unique history of our legacy system but also looking to the future, a future that more proactively prioritizes the needs of all riders, particularly those with mobility challenges.”
The New Orleans RTA is working to attract the next generation of its workforce to preserve the rich, nearly 200-year legacy of the New Orleans streetcar system. Most of the principal craftsmen who maintain the legacy streetcar system are at or beyond retirement eligibility, creating a potential skilled labor crisis. Simultaneously, New Orleans RTA is re-training and developing a workforce to expand the use of low- and no-emission vehicles beyond the current streetcar system to New Orleans RTA's fixed route bus service, ferry vessels and eventually modern rail.  The New Orleans RTA has partnered with Delgado Community College and nonprofit partners like the 1881 Institute to identify and train a workforce that can carry the baton to the next phase of the Authority's history..


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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, November 3, 2023 2:07 AM

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Sunday, November 5, 2023 1:32 AM

   Thanks, Dave, for the info.   I didn't hear anything about it locally.  If any of the TV news programs mentioned it, I just missed it.

   I had a lot of trouble getting into this site, too.  Various errors and timeouts.


  "A stranger's just a friend you ain't met yet." --- Dave Gardner

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, March 29, 2024 3:21 AM

According to a recent issue of the magazine Mass Transit, Louisiana State Senatir, Jimmy Harris (D., New Orleans),  introduced a  bill  requiring anyone usingv images of New Orleans streetcars on merchasndise for sale and/or for advertisements would pay fees to nthe Reginal Trasnsit vAuthority.

Images are widrely used on T-shirts and different souvenere items.

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