Brand Testimonial
Preserving and maintaining historic landmarks— especially ones on the move day in and day out—is no small feat, but Martin Senour is helping to keep New Orleans’ historic streetcars looking as vibrant as they did nearly a century ago. 

The City’s Streetcar History and Heritage 

History and heritage are a significant point of pride in New Orleans. As any resident or visitor can attest, the various communities that make up the vibrant city value where they’ve come from as much as they value where they are going. One of the best examples, and one certain to be well utilized as the city approaches its tricentennial anniversary in 2018, is in the city’s famous historic streetcars. 

Between the late-19th and mid-20th centuries, streetcar transit systems helped shape cities across the United States. Though most lines declined as the nation’s highway system developed and automobile use became increasingly popular, New Orleans’ St. Charles streetcar Line remained strong due in large part to the culture of historic preservation in the city. 

“It began as the New Orleans-Carrolton Railroad back in 1835 and is the world’s oldest continuous rail operation today,” said Wilbert Mullet who has worked for over 45 years as the Superintendent of Rail and Traction Power at Transdev Services Inc., the private operating partner of the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) in New Orleans. 

The current fleet of 35 streetcars was designed and built by the Perley Thomas Car Company of High Point, North Carolina, and were introduced in 1923. In addition to servicing and maintaining the cars of the St. Charles Line, Mullet, along with his staff of skilled craftsmen built seven new cars to the classic Perley design in 1997 for operation on the Riverfront Line using the same historic machinery and techniques as were used on the original fleet of 35. 

Mullet and his Team Rely on NAPA and Martin Senour 

“Not surprisingly, maintaining a fleet of nearly 100-yearold streetcars comes with a set of unique challenges,” said Mullet. “Needless to say, you just can’t always buy parts off the shelf, so we fabricate most parts and pieces inside our shop that are required to operate the streetcars.” 

For support vehicles and some elements of the RTA’s rail and bus operations, Mullet and his team rely on NAPA AUTO PARTS. This also makes choosing paint at NAPA a convenient, reliable option for Mullet when maintaining the historic appearance of the streetcars. 

“About seven or eight years ago, NAPA introduced us to Martin Senour Paints, and we’ve been using it ever since,” said Mullet. “It’s worked well for us and that’s why we continue to use it.”

The green Perley Thomas streetcars on the St. Charles Line, were placed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 4, 1973 and are maintained according to the period, according to Mullet. “The main color on that streetcar is an olive color. So we use a couple shades of green for contrast, light green for the roof, and brown paint for the doors,” he said. 

Mullet explained the versatility of Martin Senour’s PRISM® line enables his team to keep not only the historic streetcars looking vibrant, but also the various other assets Transdev maintains on behalf of the RTA. 

“The other fleet of streetcars operates along Canal Street, the Rampart/St.Claude corridor and the Riverfront,” added Mullet. “Historically, they are known as ‘the Ladies in Red,’ so we use a bright red paint on them. 

Beyond the NAPA and Martin Senour products, Mullet’s team values the great service and support received by the company’s representatives.

We work with a great team, “Mullet said. “Benny Kimberly, our rep for the paint repair program, helps us with advices and best practices to make our operation more efficient and cost-effective. He comes in with Donald Chategnier, our dedicated NAPA rep, and they work right alongside our guys. Together, they offer instruction on new technology and paint guns and newer mixing systems to achieve better coverage and more spread at a lesser cost.” 

With NAPA continuing to provide modern innovative solutions, the partnership is certain to help Mullet and his team keep everything running on time and looking bright for years to come.