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Important: Preserving Rapid Transit History


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OK, this might get long, but if you read the whole thing I promise it's worth it. You guys all know I like to get on those of you who are railfans but aren't members of any museums, or who don't try to get involved in preservation. I just want to start by explaining why I do this:


#1 it's because preservation requires people who are dedicated to it. For generations groups of older enthusiasts have done this, but as they get older, the younger generation needs to step up and begin to take over. Without people, all this preserved equipment and history will go away.


#2 is because it's expensive. Not everyone can be skilled enough or have the free time to work on the cars, but anyone can help a museum's cause. Most transit related museums do not hoard money, they actually need it to get through the year, pay bills, and maintain their cars and buildings. And membership programs often offer a deal to those who get them (such as NYTM members getting free admission to the museum and discounts on special events, as well as early notice for museum events). Without money, all this preserved equipment and history will go away.


Anyway, I tell you all this because for those of you who aren't as active, or for those of you who would like a way to be but aren't sure how, something came across my desk today that I think every NY area railfan should be aware of.


As you know myself and a few others here (and quite a few NYCT employees, I should add) volunteer in Connecticut at the Shore Line Trolley Museum in Connecticut, also known as "BERA." Anyone who has been up there from here has enjoyed it, and expressed gratitude. Whether it be just taking a ride, hanging with the crew, or actually being a guest operator, they have enjoyed it. BERA runs and owns rapid transit and trolley cars, many of which are from New York. These include:


IND R9 1689 (currently undergoing repairs, should be completed soon)

IRT Lo-V 5466 (operable)

IRT R-17 6688 (operable)

BMT A/B Standard 2775 (display)

SIRT 388 (display)

Brooklyn PCC 1001 (operable)

Brooklyn Convertible Trolley 4573 (operable)

IRT Hi-V 3664 (currently inoperable)

IRT Mineola (special display only)

BRT/BU Brooklyn Elevated 1349 (operable)

BRT/BU Brooklyn Elevated 1227 (currently undergoing repairs)

BRT/BU Brooklyn Elevated 197 (unpowered trailer, special display only)


As you can see we have a pretty big collection of just NYC stuff. We're always looking to improve the place and there are a couple of opportunities that have presented themselves which would be very important to BERA and three areas that railfans could really help out.


#1 - Water

The museum only has suitable water at its visitors center. A parcel of land will be up for city auction due to the current owner being late in paying taxes, which means BERA can swoop in win the land in an auction. While water rights are complicated, getting this piece of land could potentially allow BERA to bring water into its barns. This is extremely important because water in the barns could fireproof the collection. Fires at other railway museums have been devastating to their collections. Fireproofing our collection would be a very important step, especially with many wooden cars (including a few of the NYC cars mentioned above) at the museum.


#2 - Barn Space

Currently, a large number of cars are stored outdoors. Storing cars outdoors greatly speeds the rate of spreading rust and rot on the car bodies. Since many of the NYC cars are steel, many are stored outdoors because there is simply no room for them in the barns - this includes R-17 6688, R-9 1689, BMT A/B Standard 2775, SIRT 388, and even occasionally Lo-V 5466. Plans have been approved for construction of new barns, and these new barns would directly provide shelter from the elements for many of the rapid transit cars from NYC that are currently stored outside, preventing rust and rot and keeping them running for many more years.


#3 - General Finances

As this is a recession, the museum does not expect as much income from visitors as families cut down on spending to keep their bills in line. This means the museum needs to rely more on donations in the short term until the economy picks back up again and people go back to spending on activities like this. Every dollar here counts because it can be used for anything, from car maintenance, to facilities, to even simple things like purchasing paper towels in the bathroom, paying the hefty electric bill, or buying parts for cars.


These are very important to the museum, its future, and as someone who likes the rapid transit cars, to me as well. We know it's a recession, but the reality is that the saying "buy low sell high" is always true. During a recession is when these opportunities tend to present themselves (like the auction of the property which may lead to water for the barns). And, to further back it up, I will be putting money where my mouth is. I will be pledging a sizable donation to the museum in addition to renewing my membership. I am not going to say the number but it is more than $500. If I can do this, surely many of you can find something out there to give. We don't really care how much you give, we care IF you give because every dollar really does help. And if you've experienced the place you know it's worth preserving. If you haven't, you're welcome to come on up and do so next year, but we ask that you trust us and help now because both of these goals (barns and the property with potential water) are time sensitive.


So please get involved. There are several ways you can help, and anyone can do so, even if they're not currently a member:


Donation to the property/new barns fund:

-Donating to this fund specifically helps with the auction for the property in the hopes we can bring water to the barns to fireproof the collection. Any leftover money from the auction, or if we are unsuccessful in bidding for the property, will go towards new car barns that will provide indoor homes for the rapid transit cars, many of which are from NYC.


Donation to the general fund:

-Donating to the general fund does not specifically mark your donation for any purpose and allows the museum to use it as it sees fit. This is also very useful as this money comes into play every operating year and is what helps keep the daily activities at the museum running smoothly.


Purchasing a membership:

-Buying a membership provides the museum with assistance and you also get a lot out of it. The different levels of membership all have different "perks" (see http://www.bera.org/member.html). Also, if you are one of the ones planning to come up for a Rapid Transit weekend next year and operate cars, buying a membership will actually reduce the price for you to operate the first time next year. Plus you will get our magazine and be able to go to the museum as often as you like next year. Buying your membership now is good for the 2010 calendar year.


So please help us out! A lot of people put a lot of time and energy into the place, and those of you that have visited know how nice it can be to enjoy the fruits of that labor. This is a simple way to get involved in the preservation of equipment in the hobby that you all love so much to have signed up for NYCTF accounts and discuss the stuff darn near every day, and like I said, no gift is too small, because we are in a recession, and every gift is appreciated by the museum. As I said, I'll be giving a sizable donation, so if I can do that, hopefully many of you can scrounge together a few dollars, or more, or whatever your circumstances allow to hopefully make these very important opportunities for the museum a reality.


For those of you that dream of preserving certain cars, that is how these museums started. Groups of railfans got together and actually preserved stuff. It may feel nice to talk about saving these things on a forum, but trust me, when you donate and you can say "I am one of the reasons that x car is still running" it is a very different and much better feeling that can only come when you support causes that matter to you in meaningful ways. And that is what I encourage all of you to do.


So please give this a real thought. This is an easy and simple way to get involved, and your gift will not go unappreciated, rest assured..no matter how big or small, or into which of the 3 funds it goes towards. Then come on up and see us next spring, too.




Send donations to:

(Please indicate what fund you are donating to. If no fund is specified, it will be assumed that you're donating to the General Fund - Note: please be careful about sending cash in the mail. Your best bet would be to send a check, or send a letter with your contact info indicating that you would like to pay by credit card)


Shore Line Trolley Museum

17 River St.

East Haven, CT 06512-2519


For membership applications, use the online form at http://www.bera.org/member.html

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Is there a deadline for donations?


No, but the sooner the better as far as the projects fund (property/barns) is concerned. If you're interested in donating to the General Fund, that is less of a time sensitive situation. However, there are key deadlines for the projects fund coming up.


If you are interested in membership, buying a membership now is good for the rest of 2009 and all of 2010 so while there isn't a deadline, the sooner you do it the more you can get out of it (since there are a few operating days between now and the end of the year - check the calendar - and were you there, you could ride the trolleys for free). You'll also get the newsletter sooner and access to the members only section of the website sooner.


And like I said, no gift is too big or small. We get that these are trying times for everyone. The value of a dollar has never been greater. But that is true for us as well. Even the smallest gifts will be greatly appreciated.

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This statement really inspired me. I want to head to BERA one weekend and put some of my time into making the museum a better place, especially since they have a few of our trains. Cash is not really in my favor at this moment so I'm going to do the best I can.

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As an update, BERA has won the auction for the property in question! This is excellent news. Now, we need as much help as possible to raise the funds for the purchase. So once again, if you can, please donate to the cause. There is a very high likelihood this property will serve to get water down to the car barns and fireproof our collection which is a very important step. It also opens up possibilities down the road for, say, working bathrooms in the yard which would improve the experience for our visitors. If you can, please donate and help with preservation of these cars by starting the process to protect them from fire! Any excess money will be put towards new car barns which will create indoor storage for many of our rapid transit cars, including the steel R-17 and the R-9. As mentioned, any and all donations will be accepted and appreciated...and can be deducted for tax purposes as BERA is a nonprofit 501©3 organization. Please help out!


See the information on how to donate in my first post above - and THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR HELP

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By the way the deadline to close on the property is the first week of December. Those of you that are members may have already received the notice in the mail from our President. If you are interested in donating to the property fund, please be sure your donation arrives before then.


I know it's tough and money is tight, but this is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire this property and bring water into the BERA barns to safeguard our collection from fire and also insulate us from the surroundings further (and possible development someday). So please contribute if you can. Thanks again for all your help and hope to see you next spring.

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As an update we are more than half way to our goal but not there yet so once again if you can help please do...we really would appreciate your help and with a lot of the hard work that people do at BERA to keep the Rapid Transit cars running it would be nice to get this property and get water down to the shops to fireproof our collection, which is possible only with the help of donations.


Thank you,


Donations should go to:

Branford Electric Railway Association

17 River Street

East Haven, CT 06512


If you have any questions about donating you can call the office at 203-467-6927

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