Wildwoods tram car fleet seeks facelift funding to roll into future

A piece of Jersey Shore history is looking for a fresh new facelift. A plan is in the works to replace the iconic tram car fleet on the Wildwoods boardwalk.

"Watch the tram car please" bellowing through a crackly speaker is the unmistakable sound of the classic canary yellow passenger train that’s been running the span of the two-and-a-half-mile boardwalk since 1949.

"It is iconic. It is the boardwalk" said one man walking the boardwalk with his dog Friday afternoon.

But time, salt air and millions of passengers over the years have taken a toll on the tram cars and now more money is needed to keep them rolling into the future.

"Where we are sitting right now, probably hundreds of thousands of people have sat right where we are sitting over the years," said North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello, while showing FOX 29 some of the retired passenger cars no longer in use.


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Rosenello runs the Special Improvement District for the boardwalk. It's applying for a $1 million federal grant to update the famous fleet of engines and passenger cars.

"We are retiring about five of these passenger trailers this summer," Rosenello stated. The money from the $5 one-way fare goes to fund the operation and maintenance. But, a capital investment is needed to buy newer equipment to replace cars that are no longer in use.

Some of the tram cars have been in operation since they debuted at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. They came to the Wildwoods 10 years later and have since transported millions of people over the years. The attraction even has its own stuffed toy version that’s sold on the boardwalk.

"What would the Wildwood boardwalk be without the tram car? Well, we’d be missing something that’s been here for years and years and years," says a longtime visitor from North Jersey.

The money is being requested through "earmarks," or congressionally directed funding through Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s office. If the project is approved, the next generation of the classic tram car will be on the boards for the summer of 2026.

"This federal grant would allow us to replace a lot of units at one time, get rid of our oldest units and put new units into service for the next 75 years. We still have tram cars on the boardwalk" said Rosenello.