On this page we cover interurban, streetcar, traction, and trolley modeling in S-scale. Since there is overlap between those four definitions, we have combined them all here.
These types of passenger-moving vehicles are self-propelled light-electric cars that ran or run within cities and towns, and in between cities and towns and their surrounding suburban and rural communities. These provide an economical way for small groups of people to be transported into and out of large towns and cities, where commuters could find connecting routes offered by the larger railroads. These types of cars were very common in the early 1900s, with some lasting as long as today in the form of tourist services.
Most of the companies offering these services hung on by a thread, financially. But some of the more well-known ones were able to find a relatively steady market, until the end of rail-provided commuter services. The Illinois Terminal, Piedmont & Northern, and the Pacific Electric Railway were among the more successful ones. Most of the companies disappeared after World War II, or morphed into freight-only carriers.
Today, commuter service is available via light-rail electric, which can be found in several larger cities. Some cities still provide the more classical streetcars, e.g. San Francisco.
These types of commuter electric vehicles were made by several companies.
Ready-to-run interurban cars are hard to find in S-scale, but kits and 3D-printed models are available. Various sources can be used for the chassis, gears, and motors. Companies that have or are making interurban cars are listed below in alphabetical order.
In the 1940s this company made a mostly metal kit of a powered and non-powered coach car and a coach/baggage car. An article using this powered car can be found in the May 1982 issue of the NASG's Dispatch. The models will be a bit crude compared to today's standards, but it might be a good start.
This company has a 3D-printed 1920 Ohio Electric interurban car (part #64-6101) available.
KND Enterprises offers a number of resin body kits, some of which have poles or pantographs. They may also have decals separately available. No drive systems.
Pope Imagineering made a resin kit of a 1908 Niles wooden interurban in the mid-1990s. This model is often mistaken for an O-scale car, but the prototype was indeed 10 feet wide, not the typical 8 feet. This leads modelers to believe it is not an S-scale car.
The company also produced a 1907 Jewett interurban.
Jim Rivers of Rivers Traction & Trolley (firstname.lastname@example.org; 540 County Line Road, Gates Mills, OH 44040) bought out the "O'Toole Lines" product line after Tom O'Toole's passing in 2001. Below are photos of their products suitable for use in S-scale (as was shown on the Yahoo Groups Traction discussion forum).
William Flatt used to be the main provider of traction and trolley parts for S-scale, but he has retired and closed up shop. You may still be able to find some of his parts on the secondary market.