Magazine Street Trackless Trolley Conversion – electric with no rails

Magazine Street Trackless Trolley Conversion

NOPSI Trackless Trolley on the Magazine line. Undated Franck-Bertacci photo, ~1948-1952

Magazine Street Trackless Trolley Conversion

Magazine Street Trackless Trolley Conversion

Riders Digest flyer, 11-February-1948 (courtesy Aaron Handy, III)

New Orleans Public Service, Inc (NOPSI) discontinued streetcars on a number of lines after World War II. Magazine Street was one of these lines.  While most lines transitioned to diesel buses, Magazine Street used “trackless trolleys” from 1948 to 1964.

Mules to Electrics to Buses

The Magazine Street line began operation in June, 1861. It used mule-drawn streetcars until 1895. The line electrified in 1895. The first electrics on Magazine were open-vestibule cars that were quickly replaced by single-truck Brills. When the arch roof cars began service on Canal, the 1905-vintage “Palace” cars shifted to Magazine and other upriver-downriver lines. Eventually, the 800-900 series arch roofs operated everywhere in the city.

NOPSI planned to convert streetcars to buses in 1940, but WWII delayed that. The War Department refused the conversions, saying the increased consumption of rubber and diesel fuel were unacceptable.

The Route

Magazine Street Trackless Trolley Conversion

NOPSI 931 at Arabella Station on Magazine Street, 1947. (Franck-Bertacci Studios, THNOC)

Magazine originally ran outbound on Camp, inbound on Magazine Street. Streetcars ran up to Toledano Street. The direction on Camp and Magazine flipped in the 1920s. Since then, line runs inbound on Magazine Street to St. Andrew. The inbounds turn there onto Sophie Wright Place, then onto Camp Street at Felicity. From there, they run to Canal Street. The end of the line is on Canal and Magazine. Outbound travels all the way up on Magazine, to Audubon Park. Magazine continued past the park, up Broadway to S. Claiborne until 1933. The service cut back to the park when the Freret line opened.

After WWII

Magazine Street Trackless Trolley Conversion

Ripping up the streetcar tracks on Camp Street, 1948 (NOPL)

The government lifted wartime restrictions in 1947. NOPSI discontinued streetcar operations as soon as possible. While West End and other long-haul lines switched to buses, The city ripped up the tracks in after trackless trolleys began operation in February, 1947. The overhead wire remained until 1964.