The first forms of public transportation were horse car lines. One hundred fifty years before the NYC subways were built, most of those horse car lines in the outer boroughs terminated at the various ferry lines that would eventually bring their riders into Manhattan. Running at a 4-cent fare, each car was usually pulled by four horses that were decorated with rows of bells to warn pedestrians, similar to what one would see today on Main Street USA at Disneyland or Disneyworld. A horse stable was usually built at the end of the line.
With the disadvantages and limitations of horse cars obvious, cable car lines started to appear. Electric cars were the next progression and by 1895, almost all of the horse car routes had been converted. Those same horse stables were now renamed car barns.
By 1905, convertible trolley cars started appearing. These cars has side panels that were removed in summertime, thus doing away with the necessity of maintaining two fleets of cars, one with closed bodies for winter service and the other with open benches for summer service.
These center door trolleys had no front door and thus required a two-man operation, one set of controls in the front and another in the rear.
By 1919, there was a fleet of lightweight double end cars designed by Charles O. Birney and were the first cars of this popular design to be built by the J.G. Brill Company. The idea was that passengers boarded at the center door and exited at the front, paying their fare as they passed the conductor stationed just forward of the center door.
The concept was to operate two cars with the same two men assigned to the bigger single trolley and instead run two small cars without using more electricity that would be needed for the larger car. By doubling the service, the thought would be that there would always be another car in sight. Thus the saying “men/women are like buses (trolleys), another one comes along every few minutes.
The Depression forced the conversion to a one-man operation. To make this alteration more seamless, track loops were used rather than have the motorman move to the opposite end of the coach.
The first Lionel issue #60 Lionelville Trolley came in five different versions, all were yellow and variations had black, blue or red lettering, with and without roof vents, and the earliest production run had disappearing motormen at each end, whose appearance would be determined by the direction the car was traveling.
Later versions included and excluded the poles and rubber bumpers. Most were part of no longer offered Christmas sets that included the trolley, track, bumpers and power track. Dealers are not happy about this decision though, because it had made a relatively inexpensive and ready to run mini-starter set.
The Lionel version of the Brill trolley has included variations with and without the poles and rubber bumpers.
#21649 City Traction Co. Trolley w/ Ringling BrosTM Banner
#28430 2006 Wellspring Trolley
#28456 Coca-Cola Trolley
“Birney Style” (ONES WITH THE POLES):
#28415 Third Avenue Trolley “1651”
#28421 Fort Collins Trolley
#28434 Christmas Trolley
#28441 Transylvania Trolley
#28438 Portland Birney Trolley
#28421 LCCA Sacramento Santa Fe Trolley CarOverstamp
#28446 Silver Bell Trolley
#38203 Holly Jolly Trolley 2-Car Set
Although a slightly different design from the Lionel version of the Brill trolley and more prototypical, 2nd Runner Up prize for best Lionel wannabe trolley in typical Lionel color scheme goes to Industrial Rail #14003. Seen at the former Green Hall at York for only $45, a nice alternative.