Be careful how you refer to the so-called “great American streetcar scandal”

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Be careful how you refer to the so-called “great American streetcar scandal”

Richard green ward (Richard Greenwald) from Brooklyn recently (Brooklyn) to Queens (Queens) very short history very much, it’s easy to overlook what he called “The Great American Streetcar Scandal” (The Great American bought Streetcar Scandal).

In the early 1900s, Mr. Greenwald wrote, auto interest groups, led by general motors, bought streetcar lines in many cities and converted them into bus routes. He then said that the organization was eventually ruled by a federal court as a “conspiracy to monopolize public transport”. Several readers pointed out the plot, but given the lack of effort to uncover it, it seems worth giving the city a very brief history.

Over the years, many powerful voices have taken the view that greenwald supports. One of the most influential proponents of this is a lawyer named Bradford snell, who introduced the scandal theory to the wider public in his 1974 senate testimony. In the years that followed, from PBS to Harper’s argument, general motors had murdered public transport media. This account became the central plot theme of the 1988 movie who framed Roger rabbit? The Lord knows that Jessica rabbit can be very persuasive.

It comes down to a capitalist scam imposed on unsuspecting city dwellers. In snell’s words:

General motors’ destruction of its power transport system across the county has left millions of city dwellers without the lure of car travel.

But many competitors’ voices say the concept is a popular myth. The federal government, according to legal records, did not actually convict gm of a huge tram scandal, but merely tried to “sell goods” in the auto industry. Many scholars, even some pro-iron publications, explain that the situation is far more complicated than Mr Snell says. The strongest retort came from the transit scholar George Hilton (whose work in snell’s satire) was in his 1974 senate testimony (2204 pages) :

I think these Neil’s explanation is not correct, and they can’t be right, because a significant change of this nature in society – from the rail to the free wheel of urban transportation, the railway from steam to diesel propulsion – just because the public preference, technological change, relatively rich in natural resources, and other influences individual phenomenon or change, rather than a monopolist conspiracy.

So what happened? The cultural transition from tram to bus involves transportation technology, urban policy, the mix of highway funds and residential preferences, too complex to be covered in this short space. But this shift is based on the publication of a review by cliff Slater in 1997 [PDF].

Slater’s history explains that even before the start of the first world war, buses were easily influenced by buses. Bus (then called the MRT) due to various regulatory reasons not to build their own public transportation systems, they soon in the security, speed, and compete with city tram in comfort. In 1920, the tram began to slide, and by the end of the decade, about 20 percent of the city depended on the bus.

Mr Slater argues that the situation is largely the result of simple economics. In 1915, trams were less expensive to run than buses, but that was not always the case after world war I. Trams pay for the cost of maintaining power lines and tracks, while buses benefit from increasing attention to public road maintenance. At the same time, the growing demand for personal cars makes public transport less attractive.

Finally, Slater says, operating costs cannot be ignored. Before world war ii, the cost of running a bus was 20 percent less than that of a tram. Even car-friendly cities such as San Francisco saw a 37% reduction in the cost of operating buses per hour after the war. This is not just the case with the king of general motors, in Britain, where the cost of passenger travel has levelled off or begun to favour the bus in the 1930s.

Slater concludes: “general motors is only used in the process of the a economic trend, with the help of the general motors or no gm with the help of the economic trend will continue.

A case study can be done in Los Angeles, where snell has concentrated a large number of attacks. But contemporary accounts show that general motors and its subsidiaries began to shift from streetcars to buses as early as 1940. As early as 1923, the Pacific electric railway company bought a bus to replace part of the route. The city’s utility commission has encouraged this trend – calling the car bus a “stop” – by 1930, the city’s big bus group had 29 million passengers a year.

The scholar Sy Adler once wrote that it was simple and clear that all of snell’s advice about crossing in Los Angeles was “wrong.”

The details of the so-called American streetcar scandal may be worth it. Suffice it to say that even the most charitable conclusion from this brief review is that the situation is too complicated to be reduced to a conspiracy. This is not to say that various car interests and public policies have not affected the trajectory of the trams, nor have they affected the demise of this model. Of course they did. However, the idea of a company forcing the whole conversion would undermine a potentially enlightening, simple discussion.

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