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The Third Avenue El: Finale - April 28-29, 1973

Posted by William A. Padron on Sun Apr 28 12:38:50 2013

Forty years ago on April 28-29, 1973, passenger service on the Bronx portion of the IRT Third Avenue El, from 149th Street to Gun Hill Road, came to an end on that weekend back then. The line still had about 5,300 passengers a day towards the end. It would be replaced, of all things, with the new BX55 limited bus service that operated much of the el's route, plus an alternate branch going out to 161st Street-River Avenue.

So, the last train consisted of R-12's s/#5778-5760-5893-5802/n leaving Gun Hill Road at 11:42pm [April 28] going southbound towards 149th Street. Then, the train left at 12:06am [April 29] going northbound towards Gun Hill Road, and finally arriving at 12:23am. Another train of R-12's s/#5782-5791-5768-5754 followed running "lite" along the line.

A post-abandonment fan trip run by the E.R.A. soon followed during the day of April 29, with a train of Lo-V's s/#5443-4902-5466-5292-5290/s making two round trips on the Third Avenue El. The second and final round trip, as recorded, left Gun Hill Road at 4:04pm going southbound towards 149th Street. The train left 149th Street at 4:50pm going northbound towards Gun Hill Road, with its final arrival there at 5:46pm.

There was most likely a longer running time on that fan trip due to a lot of "photo stops" along the route. Afterward, work trains would be seen along the Third Avenue El in order to remove any signals, track or other hardware scheduling to end on July 31, 1973. Any thoughts of reviving the line was shelved permanently when the Claremont Parkway station was on fire shortly afterward.

As of today, only the lower level of the Gun Hill Road station remains of the line, but its platforms had been removed during a station renovations some years ago, plus its trackways connecting with the IRT White Plains Road line was sliced off in alternate sections.

R-12 #5760, used on the last regular passenger run on the El, has been part of the New York Transit Museum's collection as a restored car since 1976, while a second one #5782 is in storage at the 207th Street Yard in upper Manhattan. Of course, the Lo-V's used on the farewell fan trip are still around, with Lo-V trailer car #4902 seen now at the Transit Museum, and the other Lo-V's still exist. Cars #5290, #5292 and #5443 are still on NYCTA property, while #5466 is at the Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven, Connecticut.

[Source: New York Division ERA "The Bulletin", April 1973.]

-William A. Padron


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