When National City Lines Came to Town
  Page 3

How would Rte. 38 have gotten into the subway? Some have wondered whether a difficult reverse movement would have been required for subway-surface routing. Actually, t0he current Rte. 10 portal would have been used with a relatively small amount of new track. The final (cancelled) route is shown in red, the former surface route in yellow.

Route 38—A Change of Plans
One of National City Line’s “contributions” to rapid transit in Philadelphia was an eleventh hour revision of the plan for the rerouting of the West Philadelphia trolley lines using the Market Street Subway and scheduled to use the subway extension from 23rd Street to 40th Street then being readied for service.
     Before construction of the extension began in 1947 six lines used the subway east of the Schuylkill River to provide fast service to the City Hall area. Three of these lines (11, 34 & 37) served the communities south of the Market Street axis and three (10, 31, & 38) served neighborhoods north of Market Street. Rt. 31, however, operated along Market Street itself almost to the City Limits before it turned northward on 63rd Street. Thus, many riders chose to transfer to “L” trains at 63rd Street station for a fast ride to town rather than stay on the trolley which stopped at every cross street until it reached 30th Street. In addition, Rt. 31 was the route most severely affected by the construction of the Market Street subway extension from 30th Street to 46th Street. As the construction progressed westward, Rt. 31 was detoured first to the north via Lancaster Avenue to 36th Street and later to the south via Woodland Avenue to 38th Street. Eventually the line was discontinued east of 46th Street. No serious consideration was given to connecting Rt. 31 with the new subway, especially since this would have crowded the tunnel to the extent of precluding at a later date the diversion of Rt. 13 (a line serving the corridor between Rt. 34 and Rt. 11—not competing with the “L” as 31 did) into t he new subway.
     Trackage plans therefore were prepared for the rerouting of Routes 10, 11, 34, 37 and 38—three from the south and two from the north. National City Lines arrived officially on March 1, 1955, when a new president was elected. By October 17, when eastbound trolleys began to use the new subway, Rt. 38 had been turned into a permanent bus line. As the downtown portions of the Schuylkill Expressway (now I-76) were completed bus route 38 was extended to (white) communities near the city limits and express service was established using the expressway on the inner end. A local bus continued to serve the close in (black) communities. Eventually the 31 bus was extended all the way to City Hall via a circuitous route that followed most of both former trolley-subway routes and provided a very low quality of service.

Continued on page 4

Change of heart. On September 11, 1955, the PTC announced streamliner service for five lines in the expanded Market Street subway. Five weeks later, buses were to be the lot of Route 38 riders. The subway-surface routes were now to be 10, 11, 13, 34 and 36, sweeping trolleys from western Philaldelphia off downtown streets.







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Last updated June 16, 2000