PE-331

Birney Safety Car
PE-331
Car Specs
Car Number: 
331
Type: 
Birney
Builder: 
Brill
Built / Retired: 
1918 - 1941
Notes: 
operational

Car 331 survives today because it was sold to MGM Studios in 1940. It appeared in such movie classics as "Singin' in the Rain" before coming to the museum in 1966 along with sister car 332. Car 331 spent most of its PE career on local lines in Redlands, where it made the last trip on the Smiley Heights line in 1936. It was retired in 1941 following assignment to local lines in Pasadena.

The Birney Safety Car, named for its designer, was the street railway's first successful standardized car design. Developed in response to a need for economical equipment to use on lightly-patronized lines, the Birney could be operated by one man serving as both motorman and conductor. this was made practical by use of a number of patented safety features, including controls which were designed to automatically stop the car should the operator become incapacitated.

In addition to the significant savings in labor costs, the Birney's light weight also reduced wear on the track and offered substantial savings in power costs. The trade-off was that their spartan interiors and rough ride did little to attract new riders. Over 6,000 Birneys were ultimately built for service throughout the country. PE owned 69 Birneys.

Additional Images

PE 331 and Bamberger 127 inside the Museum's Abbenseth Carhouse in 2009.
PE 331 and Bamberger 127 inside the Museum's Abbenseth Carhouse in 2009.
In operation during the 2010 Pacific Electric weekend.
In operation during the 2010 Pacific Electric weekend.
In operation during the 2010 Pacific Electric weekend.
In operation during the 2010 Pacific Electric weekend.
332 and 331 on the Loop
332 and 331 on the Loop

OERM 2014 Calendar

OERM 2014 CalendarThe Orange Empire 2014 Calendar titled "The Street Cars of Los Angeles" is now available. Photographs of the Los Angeles Railway and the Pacific Electric Railway in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas enhance each month.. The price is $12.95 each plus sales tax and $5.00 shipping. To order your calendar call 951-943-3020 or e-mail info@oerm.org for more information.