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Iconic green and cream SEPTA trolleys dating back to the 1940s making their return

SEPTA to bring back iconic trolleys to Philadelphia this weekend
SEPTA to bring back iconic trolleys to Philadelphia this weekend 03:15

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Get ready for a blast from the past! After undergoing years of restoration, SEPTA's vintage green and cream trolleys are making a comeback.

The 1940s-era PCC trolleys, also referred to as streetcars, will roll along Route 15 again via Girard Avenue beginning Sunday, June 16.

SEPTA began a multimillion-dollar project four years ago to restore the iconic cars.

During that time, SEPTA says workers at its Woodland Shop meticulously took apart and rebuilt the trolleys piece by piece.

Officials say workers also had to, at times, reverse engineer and fabricate parts that are no longer being manufactured. 

They also had to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic and global supply shortages.

"I've had the opportunity to stop by the shop many times over the years to witness the hard work being done by SEPTA employees and the transformation of these historic trolleys is amazing," SEPTA's Senior Press Officer Kelly Greene said.

Mike McIver worked at the shop for 22 years and worked on the trolley cars when they were previously in service.

"Basically replace everything. The whole frame system, bolster system. Everything had to be replaced," he said. "It's a lot of work. But it's enjoyable work for me, I like it."

During an unveiling ceremony on Wednesday, SEPTA officials showed off the trolleys' new upgrades, which include new floors, windows, wheelchair lifts and HVAC units.

"This is an extremely exciting day, I've been looking forward to it since I started in 2020," SEPTA CEO and General Manager Leslie Richards said. "We know our riders have been eagerly awaiting the return of these PCC trolleys."

A portion of Route 15 runs through Philadelphia City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier's district.

"By bringing PCC trolleys back into service, we show the community that West Philadelphia's transit heritage deserves to be honored and preserved," Gauthier said. "Imagine how our young people will feel riding the same trolleys that grandparents and even great-grandparents did decades before... this instills a sense of pride and community and reaffirms that our Black and Brown neighborhoods deserve nice things too."

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