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Historic Trolley Car #531:Hugh Stuart Center Charitable Trust Trolley

Trolleys in Santa Clara County

Electric trolleys were pioneers of modern-day public transportation. When $750 would buy a house, and a newspaper cost only five cents, trolleys were state-of-the-art transit. From the late 1880s to the late 1930s, electric trolleys operated in San Jose, Santa Clara and throughout the County--on nearly 130 miles of trackway at the peak of the era. The birth of bus and automobile travel brought an end to local trolley service, but the trolleys were not forgotten.

Since 1982, the nonprofit San Jose Trolley Corporation and its hundreds of volunteer workers restored six historic trolleys. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) maintains these trolleys.

Car 531 History

Car 531 was built in 1928 by the workshops of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (M & M.T.B.) in Melbourne, Australia. It ran on the 200-mile Melbourne trolley system from 1928 to the mid-1980s, when it was retired from service during an upgrade of M & M.T.B.'s trolley fleet. The Trolley Corporation bought the vintage trolley from M & M.T.B. in 1986 at a cost of about $30,000. Volunteers have restored the car to its original factory-fresh look, complete with the original Melbourne two-tone brown and ivory paint scheme. Car 531 was the fourth of six cars to be restored by the San Jose Trolley Corporation. The main sponsor of the restoration was the Hugh Stuart Center Charitable Trust, which contributed $150,000 to the project. Other key contributors included the Santa Clara and San Benito Counties Building and Construction Trades Council and the Urban Transportation Development Corporation.

Passenger Capacity

Seated 48; Standing 40; Total 88


48 feet long, 10.5 feet high, 9 feet wide, Weight: 38,000 pounds

Restoration Cost

$375,000 (estimated) in donations and volunteer work hours.


Designed as a “center-entry” car with sliding doors allowing entry into the car's center seating area. Two-tone wooden benches in the center section and green Naugahyde benches at both ends of Car 531 provide ample seating, while special plastic and safety glass windows enclose the entire car.


Car 531 is driven by four 35 horsepower motors, one on each axle, and powered by overhead electrical lines. It is operated by two control levers, one to start the electrical energy that moves the car, and one to activate the brakes that stop it.