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© 2008  (PAGE LAST MODIFIED ON 12-14-08, 10-14-13)
THE 3-PART "ARTICULATED" STREETCAR
LESSER-KNOWN D.S.R. OPERATIONS:
Photographed during its first day of operation, articulated train #5000-5002
is seen here traveling southbound along Woodward Avenue—between
Adams and Park streets—at Grand Circus Park in downtown Detroit.
[Photo courtesy of the S. Sycko Transit Collection]
Click here to return to "THE DSR YEARS" Main Page.
The above article was complied from numerous sources, including (but not limited to) the newspaper article "Bendable: Detroiters once rode on a 3-part
streetcar"
(The Detroit News—Thursday, July 18, 1974) courtesy of the Stan Sycko Collection, and "DETROIT'S STREET RAILWAYS Vol II: City Lines
1922-1956"
(Bulletin 120 - Central Electric Railfans' Association) by Dworman, Henning and Schramm.

Photo #48411 posted with permission of the Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University.
All rights, including those of further reproduction and/or publication, are reserved in full by the Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University.  
Photographic reproductions may be protected by U.S. copyright law (U.S. Title 17).  The user is fully responsible for copyright infringement.
During the 1990s, the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) operated over a dozen Neoplan articulated buses along the streets of Detroit. But those DDOT "artics" weren't the first bendable transit vehicles to ever operate along the city's roadways. Another type of articulated vehicle had arrived in Detroit some sixty-five years earlier.

On Wednesday, February 20, 1924, the first three-car articulated train built in the United States arrived in Detroit. Built by the Cincinnati Car Co., the 122-foot eight-inch long streetcar made a two day trip from Cincinnati, Ohio under its own power, using the old interurban rails that linked cities across the Midwest. After the train arrived at W. Fort and Woodmere streets, a DSR crew took over and continued on to the Woodward Carhouse in Highland Park. The very next day, Thursday, February 21, 1924, the car made its debut on the heavy Woodward Avenue line. It's been reported that on its first day the train had carried 500 passengers during its one evening trip from downtown to the State Fairgrounds (8.9 miles).

The first of ten three-car trains the DSR had planned to purchase, this 3-part streetcar carried 134 seated passengers, cost the department $29,771, and required three conductors and one motorman to operate. Unlike the streetcar trailers used back then which were separate motorless cars attached to the rear of regular streetcars during rush hours the "articulated" train was an integral unit that allowed passengers to walk between the cars at will. There were four motors used to power the train; two in the front truck and two in the rear, while the two center trucks were not powered. The motorman sat on the right side of the train (instead of the center) to enable him to view boarding and alighting passengers.

George Chrysler, a retired motorman, told the Detroit News that the three-section train "was one of the easiest outfits to handle..." But he went on to say, "you had to be awful careful going around corners not to pick up your speed until the last truck made the curve. Otherwise it would derail every time."

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The DSR 3-part "articulated" train—#5000, 5001 and 5002—is seen parked at the Woodward Carhouse in Highland Park on
Feb. 21, 1924, the train's first day of operation.  The 122-foot train seated 134 passengers and required a four-man crew to
operate.  It arrived sporting the DSR's second paint scheme of yellow body, brown trimmed windows and red stripping.  
[Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University photo #48411 — see disclaimer below]
But unfortunately, the "three-car train" turned out to be a disappointment due to it being underpowered as a result of only having two of its four trucks powered. Because of poor acceleration the train couldn't accelerate fast enough to meet schedule demands on heavy routes with frequent stops, and tied up the cars behind that couldn't pass. As a result, the train was reassigned to the long, less-heavier, Baker line, which carried workers to the Ford Rouge plant. Then, according to a July 18, 1974 Detroit News article, it was later regulated to outlying routes, such as the even less-heavier "Northwestern Belt" line (later renamed Oakman), which ran from the Ford Highland Park plant to the Ford Rouge plant in Dearborn. Since the train failed to meet expectations, plans to purchase additional 3-part streetcars were scrapped by the DSR.

The articulated train—now renumbered #4000-4002 at the time of photo—is seen parked at the Woodward Carhouse Yard
in Highland Park.  Initial plans were to purchase ten of these articulated streetcars, but no others were purchased .
[Photo courtesy of the Schramm Photo Collection]
The train's three cars were originally numbered #5000, 5001 and 5002, then later renumbered as #4000, 4001 and 4002. But during its later years the cars were renumbered again, this time as #99-1, 99-2 and 99-3. The Motor City's only articulated streetcar remained in service through the World War II years. It was formally retired on Friday, January 24, 1947, after nearly 23 years of service.

The 3-car train was later renumbered for the third time as #99-1 to 99-3.  Now battered and worn and sporting
the DSR's third paint scheme of cream body with green trim, its days were definitely numbered.  Originally
purchased for the very heavy Woodward line, the car spent most of its 23 years on lighter, less frequent routes.
[Photo courtesy of the S. Sycko Transit Collection]   
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