Huntington's Ohio Valley Electric
110 &112 at 8th Street and 12th Avenue.
Car 110 backed into the siding at left to make the meet.

from Bill Volkmer Collection, courtesy's Dave's Electric Railroads

From 1889 to 1937, Electric Streetcars carried the people of Huntington from their homes to their shops and jobs. Huntington's rapid growth from the 1890's to the 1930's followed these rail tracks. One can see an example the Huntington's Southside which was developed specifically for the use of this type of transportation. Some of the elements of this system, such as wide curbs, and even some tracks remain visible throughout the city.

The Huntington Electric Trolley Association (HETA) commits to be a catalyst in bringing an historic streetcar system back to downtown Huntington. By recapturing a fascinating part of our past, this system will enhance the city's quality of life and provide opportunities for economic growth.

We recognizes that the need for improved mobility coupled with nostalgia to preserve the livability of the city for its residents, points to a return to an electric streetcar along Fourth Avenue can accomplish a number of worthwhile goals such as:

A streetcar can provide a visible and attractive means of mobility linking the Marshall University Campus with Huntington's Downtown Business and Commercial District. A "Funnel Effect" to provide more flow between these two community assets.

The technology of an electric streetcar is consistent with the urban design framework of the area, and thus helps to visually unify it.

Electric propulsion produces no immediate pollution.

  • The streetcar serving Fourth Avenue can provide a high-capacity circulation link, connecting with the rubber-tired bus system of the Tri-State Transit Authority's Greyhound Bus Station and the new Pullman Square.
  • The combination of bi-directional service and expanded parking intercepts can increase access for employees and local customers of the many hotels, shops, and restaurants in the downtown.
  • Reminiscent of the San Francisco cable cars, but on a smaller scale, a restored streetcar line would be an attraction in itself, and thus add to the appeal and charm of a visit to Huntington.
  • With these goals in mind, the Huntington Electric Trolley Association has created a feasibility study of restoring an electric trolley in Huntington. Below is a summary of that work.

Experience and Benefits Realized in Other Cities

In recent years, a number of American cities and towns have built vintage streetcar lines or have begun planning for such a system. Descriptions of several operating and planned systems are contained in the In Other Cities section of this site. For operating systems, surveys in various cities have shown that the vintage streetcar line has had a positive impact and is viewed with favor as a community attraction. Available evidence indicates that benefits are maximized when the streetcar is planned and implemented as part of a concerted and broad-based program of improvements in a community. Further, the benefits require support of business leaders, particularly those whose establishments are served by the line. Finally, benefits accrue over a fairly long time span, and are not realized immediately. There is a definite need to further explore and quantify the specific economic benefits which are possible in Huntington, and such a detailed study is highly recommended to be undertaken as one of the next steps in the project.

Route Alignment

The proposed route runs along Fourth Avenue from the western Hal Greer Boulevard intersection to eastern 8th Street intersection. This line would provide direct service to virtually the entire Downtown. This route would link to the present area-wide rubber-tired TTA bus service at the Pullman Square terminus, and will link Marshall's campus to the downtown for convenience and additional parking.

Fourth Avenue is composed of four lanes of traffic and two lanes of parking. Therefore, fitting the streetcar into the right-of-way will have impacts on both traffic and parking. Potential mitigation of these impacts includes construction of additional angled off street parking on intersecting Streets. These mitigation measures are discussed more fully in Alignment Accessment section of the site. and are included in the capital cost estimates.

The streetcars will not generate exhaust and will be propelled by electric power. Like the streetcars of by-gone days, this will require a single wire suspended over the center of the track. Other cities have reported no unfavorable impacts as a result of the overhead wire, provided the system is properly designed. The support poles can also be used for street lights and signage, and can be an attractive unifying urban design element.

A storage and maintenance facility is recommended to be located at the existing TTA station (aka "Greyhound Station". As part of this facility, a small interpretive museum may be provided on the exterior of the building to educate people on it's history.


A replica streetcar is recommended by HETA. The car will be historically authentic, featuring varnished wood interiors and brightly painted exteriors. They will provide full accessibility for all users. They will seat approximately 40 passengers, with room for standees in heavy rider periods. Details of the vehicle options considered may be found in Vehicles section of the site.


Operating scenarios are described in Operations section of the site. It is important to note that the streetcar will operate in both directions along Fourth Avenue. It is anticipated the schedule would be a car every 15 minutes between the hours of 7AM and 10PM.

Capital Cost

The recommended streetcar system is estimated to cost $2,893,698. This estimate includes track, power distribution, vehicles, passenger stops, and a maintenance facility. It also includes both the roadway and parking mitigation measures mentioned above. Engineering and design costs are calculated as a percentage of the project. Because of the preliminary nature of the project, a 25% contingency is included in the overall cost estimate. The capital cost estimate will be refined as part of the engineering and detailed design phase.

Operating Cost

Estimates of operating costs are based on data from comparable systems, as are rough ridership projections, and the results discussed in the Operating Costs portion of the site. Actual net operating results will vary, depending on the service alternative selected, the fare structure, and the unit cost per mile which will be experienced in Huntington. For a mid-range unit cost of $12/mile, the system will require an annual operating subsidy of about $11,000. If unit costs can be reduced to $10/mile or less, the system will reach or exceed breakeven. On the other hand, if actual unit costs rise to $15/mile, and the maximum service level is provided, the annual deficit could reach $. The control of costs and service level is largely within the purview of Huntington, and thus requires careful attention as the project proceeds to implementation.


The Funding portion of the site discusses a number of Federal, state and local sources of funding for both capital and operating costs. The purpose of this discussion is to identify sources and to suggest possible elements of a funding package for the Huntington project. At this early stage, there are no guarantees that funding can be obtained, but it certainly appears that given strong community support and concerted efforts by elected officials and business leaders, such a package can be developed. The exact definition of a funding plan tailored for the Huntington streetcar project will be a key element of the next phase of the work.

The vintage trolley system could be operated in one of several manners:

  • Incorporated as part of TTA system and operated by their personnel.
  • Operated by a separate non-profit organization such as Cincinnati Street Railway with a combination of paid and volunteer help.
  • Or contracted out to other existing transportation companies, a "privatization" approach encouraged by the FTA.

Each of these approaches has its advantages as well as disadvantages which would need further consideration. The system would operate with fare box revenues as does any transit system. However, like every other transit system in the United States, it would need to be subsidized. Subsidies could be provided in the manner used to support TTA, namely FTA Section 9 funding as well as the Huntington Service Fees. Another possible source of funds would be assistance from the business community, which will benefit from the vintage trolley. This also has been done in other cities.


The Implementation section of the site provides an overview of the process of implementing the Huntington streetcar. It identifies the work to be done in the next phase, as well as a potential schedule leading to actual operation of the system in May, 2005.


Restoration of an electric streetcar system in Huntington, as proposed by the Huntington Electric Trolley Association, can provide significant benefits to the community, is feasible from an engineering standpoint, and appears capable of being funded.

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