Duluth considers “trackless trolley” in 1921

One century ago the Duluth Street Railway Company — predecessor to the Duluth Transit Authority — was keeping a close eye on plans for adding trolley buses in Minneapolis. How long did it take for Duluth to get it’s first “trackless trolley”? Pretty much exactly ten more years.

According to Zenith City Online, Duluth’s first trolley buses ran on Oct. 4, 1931. The Duluth Herald reported about Duluth considering trolley buses in its Oct. 6, 1921 issue, one hundred years ago today.

Below is the text of the article:

Trackless trolley system being considered by Duluth street car officials; outcome uncertain

Duluth street railway officials are following with interest the development of the trackless trolley, according to a statement today by Herbert Warren, vice president and general manager of the Duluth Street railway company.

“We shall be especially interested in the proposed operation of the trackless trolley in Minneapolis because conditions under which they would have to operate down there would be very similar to conditions we would have to meet up here,” Mr. Warren said.

The idea is not without Its advantages when one stops to consider trackage costs at the rate of $100,000 a mile was the opinion of the engineers of the company, who did not think that the trackless trolley could ever compete with a track system where the traffic is heavy but that the trackless trolley would be valuable in extension of the system to new sections of the city.

Extensions are often a losing proposition until the sections around it are built up, they claim. In such cases, it was thought, the trackless trolley could be used to advantage until the traggic would warrant the laying of tracks. The trackless trolley will, if it is a success, have important bearing on the development of the city as it would permit trolley service to sections which could not possibly be served by a track system without a loss for many years to come and which are hampered in their growth by the absence of a trolley service, is the belief of the experts.

“But except that we are greatly interested in the trackless trolley, I am prepared to say nothing,” Mr. Warren said. “They have not been demonstrated sufficiently.”

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