"Rapid Transit" was a new idea in the early 1880's. A new railroad purposely constructed with that idea in mind was built on Staten Island, New York in 1884. The new Staten Island Rapid Transit was oy 2 1/2 mils long at first, but grew and developed into the Island's commuter railroad.
The 'rapid transit' idea on Staten Island was to run frequent, short trains. Forney type locomotives were used, so they did not need to be turned around at the ends of the line.
All stations had high-level platforms and ramps were used in place of stairs wherever possible. This enabled quicker boarding and alighting from the cars compared to using coach steps. It was much safer as well, given the mode of women's dress of the day, with more women traveling to work as typists and telephone operators.
Pullman Palace Plan 70 suburban coaches were used. They were heated with steam from the locomotive, which warmed tanks of salt water installed under the car side seats at each end. This increased safety by not having lit car stoves for heat. Eames vacuum brakes were used, as they recovered more quickly than Westinghouse air brakes at the frequent stops at stations about a half-mile apart in the populated areas.
Staten Island passenger service grew to more than 500 trains a day over three subdivisions. The North Shore, about 5.5 miles long, the East Shore at 4.5 mile and the Perth Amboy at 14.5 miles with a railroad operated ferry to New Jersey at the south end of Staten Island.
In 1892, B&O bought three Baldwin built Forneys for the SIRT as it was known. B&O bought the two Island railroads (SIRT and Staten Island Railway built in 1860) at Sheriff's auction of both bankrupt properties as part of its effort to gain a foot hold in the lucrative New York area freight market. The Baldwins were numbered 16-18. By 1906, when converting their other Cooke-built Forney locos with Wooten patent fireboxes to burn anthracite coal because of new anti-smoke regulations, the thee Baldwins were sold to southern lumber mills. SIRT standardized on using Cooke and Alco built steam power.
Here is an O scale brass model of SIRT 18, as it looked on a break-in run after its first 5 year overhaul in 1897. The ropes that run from end on to end on the locomotive are part of the emergency brake. An end is connected to similar ropes running through the following cars. If anyone on the train pulls on it, the brake valve in the cab is opened. The brakes are immediately applied to stop the train.
By 1925, steel electric multiple unit cars built for future planned operation through a tunnel under The Narrows to the BMT subway in Brooklyn. It was an idea that had a long dream that began in 1910. Work was started on such a tunnel twice, the last effort being about 1920. However it was never accomplished due to politics and funding squabbles.
Here is an O scale model of a Standard Steel Car Co. MUE of 1925 east bound to the next stop at Tower Hill.
It was named for the nearby mansion of Mrs. Jenny Faber, whose husband was a patentee of the lead pencil in 1860. Eberhard-Faber pencils are still being produced. Her mansion and its grounds were made into a public park and recreation area, under specific instructions in her will after she died.