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In six weeks, old-time trolleys here will reach the end of the line

Saturday, July 24, 1999

By Bill Heltzel, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Pittsburgh's old-fashioned trolley cars will disappear from the tracks in September.

Fans of the old-time trolleys have six weeks left to indulge their nostalgia -- on Sept. 4, the 47D Drake Line, from Bethel Park to Castle Shannon, will be taken out of service.

The next day, they will be replaced by minibuses.

The three Presidents Conference Committee trolleys, which have been in service on the 1.4-mile line since 1936, are the area's last operating trolleys. PCC trolleys also operated on the Overbrook Line until it was closed in 1993.

"Nostalgia is why they've lasted this long," said Port Authority spokeswoman Judi McNeil. "People relate to them because they're a part of Pittsburgh history and childhood memories."

But their 66-year run has taken a toll. The trolleys are falling apart, and there are no replacement parts.

And despite the many fond memories, fewer than 50 people a day ride them.

The expanded minibus route that will replace them is expected to serve more people.

The new GoldLink 35A route will make stops at Village Square Mall, South Hills Village, Brookside Farms, Drake Loop, Ruthfred Acres, South Park, the wave pool and fairgrounds at South Park, Parkford Apartments, Windover Hills, Broughton, Curry Hollow Shopping Center, Century III Mall, Century Square Plaza and Gabriels.

The Port Authority has plans to rebuild the old Drake Line for light-rail transit and to add a park-n-ride lot at Drake Loop.

Trolleys may no longer be on the tracks, but they won't disappear from southwestern Pennsylvania. One is enshrined at the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center and another will be donated to South Hills Village.

The Port Authority, Pennsylvania Trolley Museum and Allegheny County Transit Council are planning a celebration to mark the end of an era.

"The trolleys are not to be operated," McNeil said, "but they will not be forgotten."

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