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New Jersey Interurban and Streetcar History

Published: May 21, 2023

By: Adam Burns

The state of New Jersey did not contain a great deal of interurban mileage.  However, the Public Service Corporation of New Jersey was notable as offering direct, electrified service from Trenton to Jersey City via Elizabeth and Newark.  In addition, there were several local streetcar systems serving various towns and cities 

1815782785896902642786801630963.jpgA postcard depicting the Morris County Traction Company in Madison, New Jersey, circa 1910.

Atlantic Coast Electric Railway

The Atlantic Coast Electric Railway connected Allenhurst with Long Branch and Sea Girt. It began operations in 1895 and operated until 1927 when it became known as the Coast Cities Railway. It lasted only four years more until being discontinued in favor of buses.

Atlantic City & Shore Railroad

The Atlantic City & Shore Railroad began operations in 1906 and connected Atlantic City with Ocean City.

Lasting longer than most other interurban railroads it was finally discontinued in 1948 in favor of buses. Interestingly the interurban never purchased much new equipment operating its original fleet of streetcars from its inception.

Pennsylvania-Reading-Seashore Lines

The Pennsylvania-Reading-Seashore Lines or PRSL was a jointly operated commuter operation between the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads in southern New Jersey. It connected Camden with Atlantic City, Cape May, Bay Head, Bridgeton, and several branches extending south and east of these points. 

The PRSL was not a true interurban, however, but did contain some electrified/interurban characteristics near Philadelphia.

Morris County Traction

The Morris County Traction began operations in July of 1904 originally serving Dover. Ten years later, however, the system had expanded service to also reach Newark, Morristown and Summit. The interurban railroad was abandoned in 1928 and its operations converted to buses.

Atlantic & Suburban Railway

The Atlantic & Suburban Railway began operations in 1908, created by the reorganization of the Atlantic City & Suburban Traction Company. The interurban railroad operated about 16 miles of track connecting Atlantic City, Pleasantville, Absecon and Somers Point.

Atlantic Highlands, Red Bank & Long Branch Electric Railway

The Atlantic Highlands, Red Bank & Long Branch Electric Railway was the first incorporated interurban railroad to serve Red Bank.

It began operations in 1896 and lasted just five years until 1901 when it became the Monmouth County Electric Railway. Streetcar service lasted another twenty years before being discontinued in 1921 when buses replaced the operation.

Jersey Central Traction

Despite its name, this line was not affiliated with the Central Railroad of New Jersey (a main line railroad also often referred to as the Jersey Central). 

The Jersey Central Traction Company began operations in 1901 taking over from the Keyport & Matawan Street Railway, which dated back to 1891, when the line was electrified.

At its peak Jersey Central Traction connected Perth Amboy, Red Bank and Highlands. In 1917 the interurban was purchased by the American Railways Company and streetcar service was discontinued by 1923.

Trenton Princeton Traction Company

The Trenton Princeton Traction Company operated within the City of Trenton and would come under the control of the Reading Railroad. Passenger service on the railroad lasted until 1941 but freight service carried on into the 1970s before the route was finally abandoned.

Trenton Transit

Trenton Transit was another interurban railroad serving the City of Trenton. It remained in operation until December of 1934 when service was discontinued in favor of buses.

Bergen County Traction Company

The Bergen County Traction Company began operations in 1896 serving the City of Weehawken. It lasted only four years before becoming the New Jersey & Hudson River Railway & Ferry Company in 1900.

The property again changed hands in 1910 when it was purchased by the Public Service Railway Company. Streetcar service lasted until 1938 when it was abandoned in favor of buses.

Public Service Corporation of New Jersey

This company was not a true interurban but did operate numerous streetcar systems across the state.  Its history dated back to 1899 and by 1902 offered streetcar service between Jersey City and Camden along with trackage rights over the Pennsylvania Railroad.

In 1904 it opened the Camden & Trenton Railway serving its namesake towns. By 1912 it also operated a route known as the Public Service Fast Line and purchased a defunct railroad, the New Jersey Short Line Railroad.

By 1915 it was serving more towns including Perth Amboy, Carteret, Bayway, and Bonhamtown. With little freight service cutbacks began as early as 1924. Over the next decade its remaining lines were slowly converted to bus service until the final segment was abandoned by 1937.

New Jersey Rapid Transit Company

This company opened to the public in 1910 connecting East Paterson and Ho-Ho-Kus, later reaching Suffern, New York. It was never very profitable and after being purchased by the Public Service Corporation in 1927 was abandoned two years later.

New Jersey Interurban Company

The New Jersey Interurban began operations in 1906 connecting Phillipsburg, Easton, Washington, and Port Murray on an 18-mile system originally known as the Easton & Washington Traction Company.

It had difficulty from the start and was abandoned by 1925, less than two years after being renamed as the New Jersey Interurban Company.

Bridgeton & Millville Traction Company

The B&MT was an early streetcar system, dating back to 1892 when it was chartered to connect its namesake towns. By 1922, with little freight traffic, the first cutbacks began and it was renamed as the Cumberland Traction Company. In 1931 the line was entirely abandoned.

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway

The Five Mile Beach Electric Railway is one of the rare few interurban railroads to still be in operation today. It began operations in 1902 and has served the Cape May area for over a century, and now also provides bus services.

Other Systems

Brunswick Traction Company

Burlington & Mt. Holly Railroad (A Pennsylvania Railroad subsidiary, later known as the Burlington County Traction Company.)

Camden & Trenton Railway

Camden Ferry Terminal

Cape May, Delaware Bay & Sewell's Point Railroad

Jersey City, Hoboken & Patterson Street Railway

Perth Amboy Railroad

Trenton & Mercer County Traction Corporation

Trenton, New Hope & Lambertville Street Railway

Union Traction Company

West Jersey & Shore Railroad (Served Atlantic City)