Rail Transit Photo Marathon

The other day I posted a photo of the Los Angeles Metro Rail Blue Line and noted that I’d photographed many rail transit systems but ‘lost track’ after 50.

A regular Tracking the Light reader wrote in that he was close to 90 light- rail/streetcar systems, which made me wonder how many systems I’ve photographed over the years. So the other day, while the rain fell outside the window in North Conway, I made a list of every city/rail transit system that I’d photographed.

One two occasions, I’ve photographed streetcars at Mainz, Germany. This view was made of a route 52 car in September 2019.

For this exercise I included both light-rail/streetcar and heavy-rail metro rail transit systems. I excluded purely interurban lines where the frequency and service pattern doesn’t fit ‘rail transit’.

All of the systems are electric, rail-based transit, although I included rubber-tire/tyre metros such as Montreal, since rails and electricity are involved.

Fine print: I’ve excluded trolley bus operations (in most cases cities that I’ve photographed trolley buses also have some form of rail transit. However, this qualification excluded Chernivtsi, Ukraine—and yes I have a photo of an electric bus there). I’ve also excluded cities where I may have seen rail-transit but not photographed it. As may be inferred, cities with more than one mode (light rail and heavy rail metro for example) get counted only once. However, in situations where disconnected systems serve adjacent cities get counted individually. So I’ve counted the Newark City Subway and Jersey City-Hoboken light rail as two systems. Non-electric systems are not on my list. German cities with interurban interconnections, such as Bonn and Köln get counted twice. Systems with long extensions into adjacent communities such as Charleroi in Belgium and the Belgium coastal tram get counted once. (I realize that some viewers my take exception to my counting the Belgian coastal tram, and not including some Swiss interurban electric lines.) Systems that I photographed under construction or out of service without vehicles, will not be included (that leaves out Florence, Italy, and San Juan, Puerto Rico from my total).

Trolley bus systems are not included in my final count. SF Muni Potrero garage October 1990.

Chicago’s CTA ‘L’ lines are cool—systems like this make the list! Howard Street Line July 5, 1995.
I’ve photographed in numerous cities across Eastern Europe. In 2003, I made this color slide in Zagreb, Croatia.

I’ve been photograph Boston’s rail transit for more than 47 years! (Eeek!) So I have more coverage of the MBTA than many other systems. Park Street Station on the Green Line back in the day. (December 1980).

So as of January 2020, my list of  photographed subway, metros, light-rail, streetcars, monorail, and rail-based cable car (aka San Francisco) systems total 100.

My challenge now will be locating original images from each and every of these systems. Mexico City was recently covered, so we’ll leave that one out.

Also, I may remember another system, presently off my list, and if so I’ll make note of that later.

Since North Conway doesn’t have electric rail transit, I can only wistfully look back on my photos.

Incidentally, while I have extensive photographic coverage of some cities such as Dublin, Boston and San Francisco, in others I may only have a handful of images. Kansas City, being one recent example, which I photographed from the dutch-door window of Budd dome Silver Splendor (now Rhonda Lee) while traveling East on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief in 2018.

This might take a while! (And no, I won’t be limiting my daily posts to rail transit, but will be including archive photos in the mix of other subjects).

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2 comments on “Rail Transit Photo Marathon

  1. That Park St photo ably demonstrates that modern standards of technical perfection are not at all necessary for the making of a strong photo.

    • Thank you Walter!
      I’ve always liked that image.
      I believe I exposed it using 1/8th of second handheld.
      I loved traveling on the Green Line subway when it was still ruled by the old PCC cars.