The January 2003 edition of Light Rail Progress stated that Little Rock's historic streetcar project was offering nostalgic mobility with the reintroduction of double-truck Birney streetcars in Little Rock and North Little Rock. The cars originally ran the rails between the two cities from the 1920s to 1947.
The first Gomaco replica Birney for the Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CAT) was #408 in 2003, starting again from the old numbering sequence of the former streetcars which ended at #407. Today, the streetcars run their routes alongside the daily car and truck traffic. The overhead contact system uses simple trolley wire to help recreate the authentic look and feel of the original streetcar system.
The goal of the system was to facilitate people movement along the route and to boost tourism and economic development. If ridership numbers were any indication, CAT's goal was reached. River Rail transported 200,000 passengers in the first year, alone.
The trolley operator’s station is where old-time craftsmanship and the latest technology available merge together to create a station for the operator that is both easy and safe to operate. First of all, the station has been designed for excellent visibility inside and out of the trolley, while keeping all of the operating controls within easy reach for the operator. Gomaco trolleys can be equipped with a K35G IGBT (insulated gate bipolar transistor) controller and PLC (programmable logic controller) system management to control speed and monitor power consumption. It allows the cars to travel at any speed between zero to 35 miles per hour and it will maintain any speed for an indefinite amount of time. For example, if you want to creep the trolley car at 0.5 miles per hour along the entire route, it’s possible with the K35G. It includes a system diagnostics recording that can be used for troubleshooting analysis and documentation. And, with its GPS compatibility, the car location and speed can be tracked from rider kiosks or for dispatcher’s monitoring.
The braking system features an air-applied, pneumatic brake system with composite shoes and a 24-volt hydraulic brake pump. The battery-powered trolleys capture their regenerative energy for recharging its own batteries. Electromagnetic rail brakes are an added safety feature to allow emergency stops. Emergency stop buttons are located at different points. Also, for added safety, there is full, dead-man integration at both operator locations, so if for any reason the operator becomes incapacitated, the car automatically stops.
Car Numbers: #408, #409, #410, #411, and #412.
Car Builder: Gomaco Trolley Company, Ida Grove, Iowa 51445.
Source of Running Equipment: Gomaco Trolley Company design, patterned after Peter Witt-style trucks from Milan, Italy.
Running Equipment: 30 HP General Electric traction motors. 650 volts, air/friction brakes. CP25 compressor.
Controls: Gomaco proprietary K35G IGBT (insulated gate bipolar transistor) solid state controllers. System diagnostics recording for troubleshooting analysis and documentation.
Length: 47.75 feet.
Width: 10 feet.
Height: 12.8 feet.
Weight (approximate): 47,000 pounds.
Balanced Speed: 30 mph.
Seating: 40 sitting, 50 standing (based on six people per square meter).
Total Crush Load: 90 people (does not include the operator).
Frame: New steel construction developed by Gomaco Trolley Company.
Windows: 11 per side.
Fittings, Solid Brass: New castings by Gomaco Trolley Company.
Woods: Oak, cherry, birch, and plywood.
Paint: Gold and red. Color and details are selected by customer.
Whistles: Three-tone air chime with WABCO valves. Constructed by Gomaco Trolley Company.
Air Conditioners: 11 tons of air conditioning capacity & 10 kilowatt heat.
Communication System: Conductor PA system.
E-Stops: Red emergency stop button located in each operator station.
Steps: Pneumatic sliding steps.
Chair Lift: ADA-compliant integrated wheelchair lift.
Signal Bell: Brass, made by Gomaco Trolley Company.
Brakes: Pneumatic friction brakes with composite shoes and regenerative motor braking. Electromagnetic rail brake for emergency stop. Manual friction parking brake. Full dead-man integration at both operator locations.
Floor: Transit flooring.
Ceiling: Birch. Custom pin stripe. Integrated duct work for air conditioning.
The floor plan for the Central Arkansas Transit Authority replica Birneys.
Construction Of Little Rock Trolleys
(Replica Birneys 2001-2004)
Construction Of Little Rock Trolleys
(Replica Birneys 2005-2006)
The overhead contact system uses simple trolley wire to help recreate the authentic look and feel of the original streetcar system.
Guests wait in line for a ride on the trolleys during the grand opening weekend in 2004.
A wheelchair lift on a replica Birney trolley in Little Rock brings a passenger aboard for a ride.
The 2.2 mile route crosses the Arkansas River on the Main Street Bridge and goes past the Clinton Presidential Center and Park.
The five trolleys in Little Rock run their routes alongside the daily car and truck traffic.
The roofs are made of plywood construction with a fiberglass shell and a canvas cover.
Little Rock's trolleys have pneumatic sliding steps.
Each Little Rock replica Birney trolley will hold a total of 90 passengers, 40 sitting and 50 standing.