General Motors streetcar conspiracy
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The General Motors streetcar conspiracy refers to convictions of General Motors (GM) and other companies for monopolizing the sale of buses and supplies to National City Lines and its subsidiaries, and to allegations that this was part of a deliberate plot to purchase and dismantle streetcar systems in many cities in the United States as an attempt to monopolize surface transportation, and to urban legends and other folklore inspired by these events.
Between 1938 and 1950, National City Lines and its subsidiaries, American City Lines and Pacific City Lines—with investment from GM, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California through a subsidiary, Federal Engineering, Phillips Petroleum, and Mack Trucks—gained control of additional transit systems in about 25 cities. Systems included St. Louis, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Oakland. NCL often converted streetcars to bus operations in that period, although electric traction was preserved or expanded in some locations. Other systems, such as San Diego's, were converted by outgrowths of the City Lines. Most companies involved were convicted in 1949 of conspiracy to monopolize interstate commerce in the sale of buses, fuel, and supplies to NCL subsidiaries, but were acquitted of conspiring to monopolize the transit industry.
The story as an urban legend has been studied extensively by Martha Bianco, Scott Bottles, Sy Adler, Robert Post and Jonathan Richmond. It has been explored several times in print, film and other media, notably in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Taken for a Ride, Internal Combustion, and The End of Suburbia.
Only a handful of U.S. cities have surviving legacy rail urban transport systems based on streetcars, including Newark, Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, and Boston; others are re-introducing them. In many of these cases, the "streetcars" do not actually ride on the street. Boston had all of its downtown lines elevated, or buried, by the mid-1920s, and most of the surviving lines at grade operate on their own right of way. San Francisco and Newark similarly use tunnels; SEPTA (Philadelphia) has greatly trimmed streetcar lines to a handful using the Center City Tunnel.
- 1 History
- 2 Other factors
- 3 Myths and mysteries
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 Further reading
- 7 External links
In the latter half of the 19th century, transit systems were generally rail, first horse-drawn streetcars, and later electric powered streetcars and cable cars. Rail was more comfortable and had less rolling resistance than street traffic on granite block or macadam and horse-drawn streetcars were, in most places, a step up from horsebus: faster, more sanitary, and cheaper to run; electric traction was much more so, with the cost, excreta, epizootic risk, and carcass disposal of horses eliminated entirely. Obsolete streetcars were later seen as obstructions to traffic, but for nearly 20 years they had the highest power-to-weight ratio of anything commonly found on the road, and the lowest rolling resistance.
Streetcars paid ordinary business and property taxes, but also generally paid franchise fees, maintained at least the shared right of way, and provided street sweeping and snow clearance. They were also required to maintain minimal service levels. Many franchise fees were fixed, or were based on the gross, not the net; such arrangements, when combined with fixed fares, were to create impossible financial pressures later. Early electric cars generally had a two-man crew, a holdover from horsecar days, which created financial problems in later years as salaries outpaced revenues.
Many electric lines, especially in the West, were tied into other real estate or transportation enterprises. The Pacific Electric and the Los Angeles Railway were especially so, in essence loss leaders for property development and long haul shipping.
By 1918, long before the actions of any alleged conspirators, half of US streetcar mileage was in bankruptcy.
Conspiracy theorists connect Hertz's New York and Chicago bus enterprises with an alleged larger conspiracy. John D. Hertz, better remembered for his car rental business, was also an early motorbus manufacturer and operator. He founded the Chicago Motor Coach Company in 1917 which operated buses in Chicago and the Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company in 1923, a manufacturer of buses. He then formed The Omnibus Corporation in 1926 with "plans embracing the extension of motor coach operation to urban and rural communities in every part of the United States" that then purchased the Fifth Avenue Coach Company in New York. The same year, the Fifth Avenue Coach Company acquired a majority of the stock in the struggling New York Railways Corporation (which had been bankrupted and reorganized at least twice). In 1927 General Motors acquired a controlling share of the Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company and appointed Hertz as a main board director. Hertz's bus lines, however, were not in direct competition with any streetcars, and his core business was the higher-priced "motor coach".
By 1930 most streetcar systems were aging and losing money. Service to the public was suffering; the Great Depression compounded this. Yellow Coach tried to persuade transit companies to replace streetcars with buses, but could not convince the power companies that owned the streetcar operations to motorize. GM decided to form a new subsidiary—United Cities Motor Transport (UCMT)—to finance the conversion of streetcar systems to buses in small cities. The new subsidiary made investments in small transit systems, in Kalamazoo and Saginaw, Michigan and in Springfield, Ohio where they were successful in conversion to buses. UCMT then approached the Portland, Oregon system with a similar proposal. It was censured by the American Transit Association and dissolved in 1935.
The New York Railways Corporation began conversion to buses in 1935, with the new bus services being operated by the New York City Omnibus Corporation, which shared management with The Omnibus Corporation. During this period GM worked with Public Service Transportation in New Jersey to develop the "All-Service Vehicle", a bus also capable of working as a trackless trolley, allowing off-wire passenger collection in areas too lightly populated to pay for wire infrastructure.
Opposition to the so-called 'traction interests' and their influence on politicians was growing.[dubious ] For example, in 1922, New York Supreme Court Justice John Ford came out in favor of William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper magnate, for mayor of New York, complaining that Al Smith, was too close to the 'traction interests'. In 1925, Hearst complained about Smith in a similar way. In the 1941 film Citizen Kane, the lead character, Kane, who was loosely based on Hearst and Samuel Insull, complains about the influence of the 'traction interests'.
The Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, which made it illegal for a single private business to both provide public transport and supply electricity to other parties, caused great difficulties for the streetcar operators which were frequently also generators of electricity.[disputed ]
National City Lines, Pacific City Lines, American City Lines
In 1936 National City Lines (NCL), started in 1920 as a minor bus operation by E. Roy Fitzgerald and his brother, was reorganized "for the purpose of taking over the controlling interest in certain operating companies engaged in city bus transportation and overland bus transportation" with loans from the suppliers and manufacturers. In 1939 Roy Fitzgerald, president of NCL, approached Yellow Coach Manufacturing, requesting additional financing for expansion, and the 1940s, raised funds for expansion from Firestone Tire, Federal Engineering, a subsidiary of Standard Oil of California (now Chevron Corporation), Phillips Petroleum (now part of ConocoPhillips), GM, Mack Trucks (now a subsidiary of Volvo). Pacific City Lines (PCL) also formed as a subsidiary of NCL in 1938, was to purchase streetcar systems in the western United States. PCL merged with NCL in 1948. American City Lines (ACL) which had been organized to acquire local transportation systems in the larger metropolitan areas in various parts of the country in 1943, was merged with NCL in 1946. The federal government investigated some aspects of NCL's financial arrangements in 1941 (which calls into question the conspiracy myths' centrality of Quinby's 1946 letter.) By 1947, NCL owned or controlled 46 systems in 45 cities in 16 states.
From 1939 through 1940, NCL or PCL attempted a hostile takeover of the Key System, which operated electric trains and streetcars in Oakland, California, the attempt was temporarily blocked by a syndicate of Key System insiders, with controlling interest secured on Jan 8, 1941. By 1946, PCL had acquired 64% of the stock in the Key System which operated electric trains and streetcars in Oakland, California.
NCL acquired the Los Angeles Railway (aka the "Yellow Cars") in 1945, which had been in financial trouble for some time. The new owner slowed the closure of streetcar lines and converted others to trackless trolleys, some initially intended for Oakland, others being purchased specifically in 1948. The LATL also bought new PCCs which was one of the last major purchases of new streetcars.
Edwin J. Quinby
In 1946, Edwin Jenyss Quinby, an activated reserve commander, founder of the Electric Railroaders' Association in 1934 (which lobbied on behalf of rail users and services), former employee of North Jersey Rapid Transit (which operated in New York) published a 24-page 'expose' on the ownership of National City Lines addressed to "The Mayors; The City Manager; The City Transit Engineer; The members of The Committee on Mass-Transportation and The Tax-Payers and The Riding Citizens of Your Community". It began, "This is an urgent warning to each and every one of you that there is a careful, deliberately planned campaign to swindle you out of your most important and valuable public utilities–your Electric Railway System". His activism may have led Federal authorities to prosecute GM and the other companies.
He also questioned who was behind the creation of the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, which had caused such difficulty for streetcar operations, He was later to write a history of North Jersey Rapid Transit.
Court cases, conviction, and fines
On April 9, 1947, nine corporations and seven individuals (officers and directors of certain of the corporate defendants) were indicted in the Federal District Court of Southern California on counts of "conspiring to acquire control of a number of transit companies, forming a transportation monopoly" and "conspiring to monopolize sales of buses and supplies to companies owned by National City Lines" which had been made illegal by the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act. In 1948, the venue was changed from the Federal District Court of Southern California to the Federal District Court in Northern Illinois following an appeal to the United States Supreme Court (in United States v. National City Lines Inc.) which felt that there was evidence of conspiracy to monopolize the supply of buses and supplies.
In 1949, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California, Phillips Petroleum, GM and Mack Trucks were convicted of conspiring to monopolize the sale of buses and related products to local transit companies controlled by NCL; they were acquitted of conspiring to monopolize the ownership of these companies. The verdicts were upheld on appeal in 1951. GM was fined $5,000 and GM treasurer H.C. Grossman was fined $1. The trial judge said "I am very frank to admit to counsel that after a very exhaustive review of the entire transcript in this case, and of the exhibits that were offered and received in evidence, that I might not have come to the same conclusion as the jury came to were I trying this case without a jury,"  explicitly noting that he might not himself have convicted in a bench trial.
The San Diego Electric Railway was sold to Western Transit Company, which was in turn owned by J. L. Haugh in 1948 for $5.5 million. Haugh was also president of the Key System, and later was involved in Metropolitan Coach Line's purchase of the passenger operations of the Pacific Electric Railway. The last San Diego streetcars were converted to buses by 1949. Haugh sold the bus-based San Diego system to the city in 1966.
The Baltimore Streetcar system was purchased by NCL in 1948 and started converting the system to buses. The Pacific Electric Railway's struggling passenger operations were purchased by Metropolitan Coach Lines in 1953 and were taken into public ownership in 1958 after which the last routes were converted to bus operation.
Urban Mass Transportation Act and 1974 Antitrust hearings
The Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 created the Federal Transit Administration with a remit to "conserve and enhance values in existing urban areas" noting that "our national welfare therefore requires the provision of good urban transportation, with the properly balanced use of private vehicles and modern mass transport to help shape as well as serve urban growth." Funding for transit was increased with the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1970 and further extended by the 1974 National Mass Transportation Assistance Act which allowed funds to support transit operating costs as well as construction costs.
In 1970, Harvard Law student Robert Eldridge Hicks began working on the Ralph Nader Study Group Report on Land Use in California, alleging a wider conspiracy to dismantle U.S. streetcar systems, first published in Politics of Land: Ralph Nader's Study Group Report on Land Use in California.
During 1973 Bradford Snell, an attorney with Pillsbury, Madison and Sutro and briefly a former scholar with the Brookings Institution prepared a controversial and disputed paper, titled "American ground transport: a proposal for restructuring the automobile, truck, bus, and rail industries" funded by the Stern Fund which was later described as the centerpiece of the hearings, In it Snell said that General Motors was 'a sovereign economic state' and said that the company played a major role in the displacement of rail and bus transportation by buses and trucks."
This paper was distributed in Senate binding together with an accompanying statement in February 1974, implying that this contents were the considered views of the Senate. The chair of the committee later apologized for this error. Adding to the confusion, Snell had already joined the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly as a staff member.
At the hearings in April 1974, San Francisco mayor and antitrust attorney Joseph Alioto testified that "General Motors and the automobile industry generally exhibit a kind of monopoly evil", adding that GM "has carried on a deliberate concerted action with the oil companies and tire companies...for the purpose of destroying a vital form of competition; namely, electric rapid transit". Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley also testified, saying that GM—through its subsidiaries (namely PCL) "scrapped the Pacific Electric and Los Angeles streetcar systems leaving the electric train system totally destroyed." Neither mayor, nor Snell himself, pointed out that the two cities were major parties to a lawsuit against GM which Snell himself had been "instrumental in bringing"; all had a direct or indirect financial interest. (The lawsuit was eventual dropped, the plaintiffs conceding they had no chance of winning.)
However, George Hilton, a professor of economics at UCLA and noted transit scholar rejected Snell's view, stating, "I would argue that these [Snell's] interpretations are not correct, and, further, that they couldn't possibly be correct, because major conversions in society of this character — from rail to free wheel urban transportation, and from steam to diesel railroad propulsion — are the sort of conversions which could come about only as a result of public preferences, technological change, the relative abundance of natural resources, and other impersonal phenomena or influence, rather than the machinations of a monopolist."
GM published a rebuttal the same year titled "The Truth About American Ground Transport." The Senate subcommittee printed GM's work in tandem with Snell's as an appendix to the hearings transcript. GM explicitly did not address the specific allegations that were sub judice.
Role in decline of the streetcars
Some say that this played a key role in the decline of public transit in cities across the United States—notably Edwin J. Quinby, who drew attention to NCL's ownership structure in 1946, with mixed results, and later Bradford C. Snell, an assistant attorney for the United States Senate's anti-trust subcommittee, whose 1974 subcommittee testimony brought the issue briefly to national awareness. Quinby and Snell stated that destruction of streetcars systems was integral to a larger strategy to push the United States into automobile dependency. Most transit scholars disagree, suggesting that transit system changes were brought about by other factors; economic, social, and political factors such as unrealistic capitalization, fixed fares during inflation, changes in paving and automotive technology, the Great Depression, anti-trust action, the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, labor unrest, market forces including declining industries' difficulty attracting capital, rapidly increasing traffic congestion, the Good Roads Movement, urban sprawl, tax policies favoring private vehicle ownership, taxation of fixed infrastructure, franchise repair costs for co-located property, wide diffusion of driving skills, automatic transmission buses, and general enthusiasm for the automobile.
The 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, vectors the folktale. Scriptwriters Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman explained: "the Red Car plot, suburb expansion, urban and political corruption really did happen. In Los Angeles, during the 1940s, car and tire companies teamed up against the Pacific Electric Railway system and bought them out of business. Where the freeway runs in Los Angeles is where the Red Car used to be." The story was told again in 1996 in Taken for a Ride and then in 2004 in the film The End of Suburbia.
The accuracy of significant elements of Snell's 1974 testimony was challenged in an article published in Transportation Quarterly in 1997 by Cliff Slater.
Recent journalistic revisitings question that the alleged conspirators had a significant impact on the decline of streetcars, suggesting rather that they were setting themselves up to take advantage of the decline as it occurred. Guy Span suggested that Snell and others fell into simplistic conspiracy theory thinking, bordering on paranoid delusions stating,
Clearly, GM waged a war on electric traction. It was indeed an all out assault, but by no means the single reason for the failure of rapid transit. Also, it is just as clear that actions and inactions by government contributed significantly to the elimination of electric traction."
In 2010, CBS's Mark Henricks reported:
There is no question that a GM-controlled entity called National City Lines did buy a number of municipal trolley car systems. And it's beyond doubt that, before too many years went by, those street car operations were closed down. It's also true that GM was convicted in a post-war trial of conspiring to monopolize the market for transportation equipment and supplies sold to local bus companies. What's not true is that the explanation for these events is a nefarious plot to trade private corporate profits for viable public transportation.
Other factors have been cited as reasons for the decline of streetcars and public transport generally in the United States. Robert Post notes that the ultimate reach of GM's alleged conspiracy extended to only about 10% of American transit systems. Guy Span says that actions and inaction by government was one of many contributing factors in the elimination of electric traction. Cliff Slater suggested that the regulatory framework in the USA actually protected the electric streetcars for longer than would have been the case if there was less regulation
Some regulations and regulatory changes have been linked to directly to the decline of the streetcars:
- Difficult labor relations, and tight regulation of fares, routes, and schedules took their toll on city streetcar systems.
- The Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 prohibited regulated electric utilities from operating unregulated businesses, which included most streetcar lines. The act also placed restrictions on services operating across state lines. Many holding companies operated both streetcars and electric utilities across several states; those that owned both types of businesses were forced to sell off one. Declining streetcar business was often somewhat less valuable than the growing consumer electric business, resulting in many streetcar systems being put up for sale. The independent lines, no longer associated with an electric utility holding company, had to purchase electricity at full price from their former parents, further shaving their already thin margins. The Great Depression then left many streetcar operators short of funds for maintenance and capital improvements.
- The Dual Contracts, signed by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company and Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation of the New York City Subway, restricted their ability to increase fares at a time of high inflation, allowed the city to take over them, or to operate competing subsidized transit.
Different funding models have also been highlighted:
- Streetcar lines were built using funds from private investors and were required to pay numerous taxes and dividends. By contrast, new roads were constructed and maintained by the government from tax income.
- By 1916, street railroads nationwide were wearing out their equipment faster than they were replacing it. While operating expenses were generally recovered, money for long-term investment was generally diverted elsewhere.
- The U.S. government responded to the Great Depression with massive subsidies for road construction.
- Later construction of the Interstate Highway System was authorized by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 which approved the expenditure of $25 billion of public money for the creation of a new 41,000 miles (66,000 km) interstate road network. Streetcar operators were occasionally required to pay for the reinstatement of their lines following the construction of the freeways.
- Federal fuel taxes, introduced in 1956 were paid into a new Highway Trust Fund which could only fund highway construction (until 1983 when some 10% was diverted into a new Mass Transit Account).
Other issues which made it harder to operate viable streetcar services include:
- Suburbanization and urban sprawl, exacerbated in the USA by white flight, created low-density land use patterns which are not easily served by streetcars, or indeed by any public transport, to this day.
- Increased traffic congestion often reduced service speeds and thereby increased their operational costs and made the services less attractive to the remaining users.
- More recently it has been suggested that the provision of free parking facilities at destinations and in the center of cities loads all users with the cost of facilities enjoyed only by motorists, creating additional traffic congestion and significantly affects the viability of other transport modes.
Myths and mysteries
Some of the specific allegations which have been debunked over the years include:
- According to Snell's testimony, the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad in New York was profitable until it was acquired and converted to diesel trains. To begin with, much of the New Haven was never converted to diesel, and remains in electric operation under Amtrak. (Electrified track is also visible from some parts of Snell's Yale campus.) In reality, the line was in financial difficulty for years and filed for bankruptcy in 1935. Ironically, the rail company itself was indicted in 1914 on a charge of "conspiracy to monopolize interstate commerce by acquiring the control of practically all the transportation facilities of New England". Snell made references to these electric trolley and interurban systems briefly controlled by the New Haven as if they were still under their control 40 years later.
- "GM killed the New York street cars". In reality, the New York Railways Company entered receivership in 1919, 6 years before it was bought by the New York Railways Corporation.
- "GM Killed the Red cars in Los Angeles". In reality, Pacific Electric Railway (who operated the 'red cars') was hemorrhaging routes as traffic congestion got much worse with growing prosperity and car ownership levels after the end of World War II, long before 1953.
- The Salt Lake City system is mentioned in the 1949 court papers. However, the city's system was only purchased by National City Lines in 1944 when all but one route had already been withdrawn, and the withdrawal of this last line had been approved three years earlier. (In 1953, Salt Lake City Lines became part of the Utah Transit Authority.)
- Federal Aid Road Act of 1916
- Federal Aid Highway Act of 1921 (Phipps Act)
- Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956
- Highway Trust Fund
- Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation (A corporation that was "recaptured" by the city using the Dual Contracts provisions)
- Chicago Motor Coach Company A bus transit company established by John Hertz in Chicago in 1917
- Dual Contracts Contracts between New York City and subway operators which restricted fares, enforced share profits and allowed the city to 'recapture' and operate lines
- Transportation in metropolitan Detroit (Details of a system that was already in public ownership)
- Toronto streetcar system, which received much of the rolling stock from affected systems
- List of streetcar systems in the United States
- List of trolleybus systems in the United States
- Commuter rail in North America
- Who Killed the Electric Car?, a documentary about the General Motors EV1
- Ruggles, C. O. 1878–1958., C.O. "Problems in public utility economics and management,". Hathitrust.org. McGraw Hill. Retrieved 2014-11-19.
- US Senate subcommittee on Antitrust. "Industrial Reorganization Act Hearings". Hathitrust.org. Retrieved 2014-11-18.
- Some put the number as high as 100, but reliable sources suggest that National had already acquired 20 city systems and two interurbans by the end of 1937, and these should be subtracted from the 46 systems mentioned in the case, and adjusted to reflect the splitting of the Elgin-Aurora line into two systems.
- Goddard, Stephen B. (Nov 15, 1996). Getting There: The Epic Struggle Between Road and Rail in the American Century. University of Chicago Press. pp. 69–70.
- Friedricks, William B (1992). Henry E. Huntington and the Creation of Southern California. Ohio State University Press. p. 104.
- Smerk, George M. (Fall 1986). "Urban Mass Transportation: From Private to Public to Privatization". Transportation Journal (American Society of Transportation & Logistics Inc). 26 (1): 83–91. JSTOR 20712890. See p. 85.
- "CTA Marks 50 Years as Chicago's Major Public Transit Provider". Chicago Transit Authority. 2002-10-01. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
- "American Motor Coach Part III, American Motor Bus, Gas-Electric Motorbus, Stanley L. Conklin, Roland R. Conklin". Coachbult.com.
- "Guide to the Fifth Avenue Coach Company Collection 1895–1962". New York History Society.
- "Coach line ready to rip up car tracks in a wide bus plan; Fifth Av. Company Promises Quick Start if the city Approves Project.". The New York Times. 24 May 1926.
- "Hertz". Coachbuild.
- Bianco 1998, pp. 9–10.
- The automobile age. p. 365. ISBN 978-0-262-56055-9.
- Securities and Exchange Commission. 1945. p. 238.
The New York Omnibus Corporation, successor to the New York Railways Corporation commenced the operation of bus route in 1936. In all but one year since then it has been profitable
- Thompson, Francis R. (1940). Electric transportation (1 ed.). Scranton, PA: International textbook company. p. 40. ASIN B003IH9ZNA. Retrieved 2015-03-11.
- "Ford says Smith too close to traction interests". 1922.
- "Smith Hearst battle a wow". 1925.
- Orson Welles's Citizen Kane: A Casebook. p. 93. ISBN 0195158911.
- "Citizen Kane".
Soon, Kane uses the paper to attack trusts, Thatcher and others among America's financial elite. Headlines of the Inquirer blare out the expose in a montage of early Inquirer newspaper headlines: "TRACTION TRUST EXPOSED," "TRACTION TRUST BLEEDS PUBLIC WHITE," and "TRACTION TRUST SMASHED BY INQUIRER."
- "The Nebraska State Journal from Lincoln, Nebraska". 1943-10-19. p. 5.
The five Fitzgerald brothers, who in 24 years ran a secondhand bus into a transportation system extending from Michigan to Texas... The five brothers started on the well known shoestring and ran a second hand bus into a monster transportation system which spreads from Michigan to Texas.
- Bianco 1998, p. 4.
- United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit 1951, Para 8 "Pacific City Lines was organized for the purpose of acquiring local transit companies on the Pacific Coast and commenced doing business in January 1938."
- Span 2003b "National City Lines and Pacific City Lines merged in 1948 and continued their practice of 'bustitution.'"
- U.S. House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce (1941). "Hearings: Seventy-seventh Congress, First Session". Hathitrust. p. 1124. Retrieved 2015-02-02.
- United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit 1951, para 6 "At the time the indictment was returned, the City Lines defendants had expanded their ownership or control to 46 transportation systems located in 45 cities across 16 states."
- "Control of Rail System:Acquired". San Bernardino Sun. United Press. 1941-01-09. p. 17.
"Control of Rail System: Acquired (By United Press) SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 8. Control of the Railway Equipment & Realty Co., formerly the Key System, which operates interurban train service between San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda and local service in the latter cities, has been acquired by a group of Oakland businessmen, headed by A. J. Lundberg, president, and William P. St. Sure, vice-president, it was announced tonight. St. Sure said control of the transit firm was acquired "to prevent its acquisition by outside interests." National City Lines, a Chicago corporation, had been reported interested in buying Railway Equipment & Realty for the last year. The Oakland group purchased a majority of the stock on the San Francisco stock exchange today. A block of 26,500 shares sold at $5 a share.
- "Finding Aid for the Los Angeles Railway Corporation Legal Records and Correspondence".
the controlling interest remained part of the Huntington estate until 1945 when the Fitzgerald Brothers purchased those shares. LARy became part of the National City Lines, renamed the Los Angeles Transit Lines, and eventually the streetcars were phased out, replaced by motor buses.
- "Los Angeles Transit Lines – The Trolley Bus in Los Angeles". Electric Railway Historical Association of Southern California. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
- Quinby, Edwin, J. (1946). "Quinby's Warning".
I am at present on active duty in the Navy with the rank of Commander.
- Suburbanizing the masses: public transport and urban development in historical perspective. Ashgate Publishing Ltd. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-7546-0775-5. Retrieved 2011-04-08.
- Span 2003b
- Span 2003b "Quinby’s charges would finally bestir the government to begin an investigation into National City Lines and its owners and subsidiaries and suddenly the opposition changed their tactics (in a clear admission of guilt)..." Thanks to Quinby’s warning, the Feds eventually took GM to trial and convicted them for controlling these companies to monopolize sales of its products, a violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act."
- Span 2003b. "No one sought an answer to Quinby’s most penetrating question (referring to the 1935 Public Utility Holding Company Act), "Who Is Behind This Campaign To Separate The Obviously Economical Combination Of Electric Railway And Its Power Plant?""
- "Interurban interlude: A history of the North Jersey Rapid Transit Company".
- United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit 1951, para 1, "On April 9, 1947, nine corporations and seven individuals, constituting officers and directors of certain of the corporate defendants, were indicted on two counts, the second of which charged them with conspiring to monopolize certain portions of interstate commerce, in violation of Section 2 of the Anti-trust Act, 15 U.S.C.A. § 2."
- "United States v. National City Lines , 334 U.S. 573 (1948)". FindLaw. 1948.
- United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit 1951 "We think the evidence is clear that when any one of these suppliers was approached, its attitude was that it would be interested in helping finance City Lines, provided it should receive a contract for the exclusive use of its products in all of the operating companies of the City Lines, so far as buses and tires were concerned, and, as to the oil companies, in the territory served by the respective petroleum companies. It may be of little importance, but it seems to be the fact, at least we think the jury was justified in inferring it to be the fact, that the proposal for financing came from City Lines but that proposal of exclusive contracts came from the suppliers. At any rate, it is clear that eventually each supplier entered into a written contract of long duration whereby City Lines, in consideration of suppliers' help in financing City Lines, agreed that all of their operating subsidiaries should use only the suppliers' products."
- United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit 1951, para 33, "We have considered carefully all the evidence offered and excluded. We think that the court's rulings were fair, and that, having permitted great latitude in admitting testimony as to intent, purpose and reasons for the making of the contracts, the court, in its discretion, was entirely justified in excluding the additional testimony offered."
- Snell 1974, p. 103 "The court imposed a sanction of $5,000 on GM. In addition, the jury convicted H.C. Grossman, who was then treasurer of GM. Grossman had played a key role in the motorization campaigns and had served as a director of Pacific City Lines when that company undertook the dismantlement of the $100 million Pacific Electric system. The court fined Grossman the magnanimous sum of $1"
- Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust. "The Industrial reorganization act [microform] : hearings, Ninety-third Congress, first session [-Ninety-fourth Congress, first session], on S. 1167.". hathitrust.org. US Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2014-12-18.
- Holle, Gena (2002). "Transit in San Diego: ASCE Anniversary Project". The Journal of San Diego History. 48 (1).
- "San Diego streetcar will take a route to the past".
- "Transit in San Diego: ASCE Anniversary Project".
By 1963 Haugh said he'd be out of business within two years if things didn't improve, and suggested a public takeover of the transit system. The City Council of San Diego presented a ballot proposition that provided for city ownership of San Diego Transit. Upon voter approval in 1966, the city paid Haugh $2 million for the bus company
- pp. 410–12, compiled by Robert C. Fellmeth, Center for Study of Responsive Law, Grossman Publishers
- "The Industrial Reorganization Act: An Antitrust Proposal to Restructure the American Economy".
- Slater 1997.
- Snell 1974.
- Wood, John C. (2003). Alfred P. Sloan: Critical Evaluations in Business and Management. p. 385. ISBN 0415248329.
The centerpiece of the hearings was a study written by Bradford C. Snell
- Snell 1974 "it demonstrates General Motors to be a sovereign economic state, whose common control of auto, truck, bus and locomotive production was a major factor in the displacement of rail and bus transportation by cars and trucks"
- Snell, Bradford (1974-02-26). "Statement of Bradford C. Snell Before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly" (PDF). Hearings on the Ground Transportation Industries in Connection with S1167. S.C.R.T.D. Library. Retrieved 2012-08-22.
- United States Senate 1974 Pages 2325 to 2326
- Bianco 1998, p. 7.
- Slater 1997 "Mayor Alioto, himself a nationally prominent antitrust attorney, congratulated Snell on the "excellence" of his "very fine monograph." Alioto testified that, "General Motors and the automobile industry generally exhibit a kind of monopoly evil" and that GM "has carried on a deliberate concerted action with the oil companies and tire companies...for the purpose of destroying a vital form of cotric rapid transit. ... Mayor Bradley also testified, in absentia, saying that General Motors, through its American City Lines and Pacific City Lines affiliates, "scrapped" the Pacific Electric and Los Angeles streetcar systems to "motorize" Los Angeles. After GM was through, the 'electric train system was totally destroyed.'"
- Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (1977). transportation assistance act of 1977 : hearing before the Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, United States Senate, . Washington, DC: U.S. Govt. Print. Off. p. 193. Retrieved 2015-12-06.
- In Memoriam: Transportation economist George Hilton
- "Be Careful How You Refer to the So-Called 'Great American Streetcar Scandal'".
The strongest rebuttal came from transit scholar George Hilton (on whose work Snell had ironically relied) in his own 1974 Senate testimony"
- United States Senate 1974, p. 2204.
- Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (1977). transportation assistance act of 1977 : hearing before the Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, United States Senate, . Washington, DC: U.S. Govt. Print. Off. p. 193. Retrieved 2015-12-06.
- United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs (1977). National mass transportation assistance act of 1977: hearing before the Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, United States Senate, Ninety-fifth Congress, first session, on S. 208 ... February 23, 24, and 24, 1977. U.S. Government Printing Office.
- See elsewhere in this article for cited sources for all of these claims, notably in the 'other factors' section.
- Bianco 1998.
- Robert Zemeckis, Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman, Ken Ralston, Frank Marshall, Steve Starkey, DVD audio commentary, 2003, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
- Span 2003a "One of the most recent villains is Bradford C. Snell, a researcher whose delusions of paranoia seem nearly limitless (at least in print) ... Snell’s 1974 report goes on to craft a plausible case for a vast conspiracy to destroy clean, economic, and user-friendly streetcars"
- Span 2003b "Clearly, GM waged a war on electric traction. It was indeed an all out assault, but by no means the single reason for the failure of rapid transit. Also, it is just as clear that actions and inactions by government contributed significantly to the elimination of electric traction."
- Henricks, Mark (2010-09-02). "The GM Trolley Conspiracy: What Really Happened". CBS News.
- Post, Robert C. (2007). Urban Mass Transit: The Life Story of a Technology. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-313-33916-5.
- Slater 1997 "The issue is whether or not the buses that replaced the electric streetcars were economically superior. Without GM's interference would the United States today have a viable streetcar system? This article makes the case that under a less onerous regulatory environment, buses would have replaced streetcars even earlier than they actually did."
- Hanson, Susan; Giuliano, Genevieve (2004). The Geography of Urban Transportation (3rd ed.). Guilford Press. p. 315. ISBN 1-59385-055-7.
- National Capital Trolley Museum. "Regional History". Retrieved 2009-05-27.
- Van Wilkins (Summer 1995). "The Conspiracy Revisited". The New Electric Railway Journal. ISSN 1048-3845. Retrieved 2011-05-27.
- Jonathan Kwitny (1981). The Great Transportation Conspiracy: A juggernaut named desire. Harper's. p. 14.
- Span 2003n "And once separated from their subsidies, many died on their own at the end of the depression, without any further assistance from GM."
- "Beyond the IRT". Public Broadcasting Service.
The Dual Contracts doubled the size of the current system, pushing Manhattan's population northward and fostering residential growth in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. The new lines connected the beaches of Coney Island with the theaters of Times Square, and the citizens of Queens with the shopkeepers of Manhattan. But the terms of the contracts, particularly the fares and how they would be divided, would later cripple the system and threaten its continued growth.
- "Federal Highway Aid and the Depression".
The annual federal highway allotment to the states, which stood for a number of years prior to 1931, at $75,000,000, was increased to $125,000,000 for the fiscal years 1931, 1932, and 1933. These sums were further augmented by emergency appropriations totaling $200,000,000, the large additional funds for road building being advanced as a means of giving work to unemployed men in every state.
- "The Cracks are Showing". The Economist. 2008-06-26. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2008-10-23.(subscription required)
- "Part 5: The Ending of an Era in Detroit and The México City Sale". The PCC Era in Detroit. Detroit Transit History. 2009-03-30. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- Cities and Suburbs. 2009. p. 49. ISBN 9781134004096.
Massive federal highway spending opening up rural land and kept residential land prices relatively low... The federal highway construction program, especially in the 1950s and 1960s, not only connected cities, but it also allowed commuters to travel the interstate highways into the cities from the nearby suburbs... Race also played a significant role in suburban expansion. In selected inner-city neighborhoods Blacks moved into the housing market. The resultant White flight to the suburbs was reinforced by urban renewal and integration of the school system.
- "Urban density is more cost-effective than urban sprawl". UITP.
In low-density areas the car dominates the choice of transport, and the cost of providing public transport in high. In these sprawling cities almost all journeys are made by car
- "1922 Los Angeles: Unprecedented Growth, Congestion And A Plan For Relief". Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library.
He concludes that the downtown street area is insufficient for present traffic, street area is inefficiently used, outlets for traffic are insufficient, and that increasing efficiency is practically impossible due to the railway systems in operation at the time. He goes on to discuss the 2nd Street Tunnel project, the opening of 5th Street, the Pacific Electric tunnel, and plans for a Union Passenger Station.
- John M Terrass (1922). "Study and Plan of Relief of the Street Traffic Congestion in the City of Low Angeles" (PDF). University of California, Institute of Transportation and Traffic Engineering. p. 1.
Traffic congestion, in the City of Los Angeles, has increased rapidly in the past five years. Many complaints have been made by both the people and the public utilities which are directly affect by traffic congestion. Chief Engineer H.Z.Osborne, of the Los Angeles board of Public Utilities, in a discussion of traffic conditions, estimated the present yearly losses due to congestion, as being $8,365,800
- "Pacific Electric Railway (1901–1965)".
Although the railway owned extensive private rights-of-way, usually between urban areas, much of the Pacific Electric trackage in urban areas such as downtown Los Angeles west of the Los Angeles River was in streets shared with automobiles and trucks. Virtually all street crossings were at-grade, and increasing automobile traffic led to decreasing Red Car speeds on much of its trackage. At its nadir, the busy Santa Monica Boulevard line, which connected Los Angeles to Hollywood and on to Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, had an average speed of 13 miles per hour (20.9 km/h)
- "U.S. Parking Policies: An Overview of Management Strategies" (PDF).
Minimum parking requirements subsidize driving by shifting the costs of car use onto development and the non-driving public.. There is a growing realization that the dysfunction caused by poorly conceived parking policies is a major impediment to creating an effective and balanced urban transportation system
- Snell 1995 "Members of GM's special unit went to, among others, the Southern Pacific, owner of Los Angeles' Pacific Electric, the world's largest interurban, with 1,500 miles of track, reaching 75 miles from San Bernardino, north to San Fernando, and south to Santa Ana; the New York Central, owner of the New York State Railways, 600 miles of street railways and interurban lines in upstate New York; and the New Haven, owner of 1,500 miles of trolley lines in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. In each case, by threatening to divert lucrative automobile freight to rival carriers, they persuaded the railroad (according to GM's own files) to convert its electric street cars to motor buses – slow, cramped, foul-smelling vehicles whose inferior performance invariable led riders to purchase automobiles."
- "New Haven Railway files for bankruptcy". Montreal Gazette. 1935-10-24.
- "Indict 21 in deals of the New Haven Line". New York Times. 1914-11-03.
- "U.S. Court Makes Hedges Receiver for N.Y. Railways". New York Times. 1919-03-21. p. 1.
- "New York Railways Plan Now Effective". New York Times. 1925-04-28. p. 27. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- Span 2003a. "Snell’s report can also be misleading (apparently intentionally so). Snell says: 'In 1940, GM, Standard Oil and Firestone assumed an active control in Pacific (City Lines)... That year, PCL began to acquire and scrap portions of the $100 million Pacific Electric System (of Roger Rabbit fame).' This statement implied that PCL was getting control of Pacific Electric, when, in reality, all they did was acquire the local streetcar systems of Pacific Electric in Glendale and Pasadena and then convert them to buses. Many superficial readers jump on this statement as proof that GM moved in the Red Cars of the Pacific Electric. The ugly little fact is that PCL never acquired Pacific Electric (it was owned by Southern Pacific Railroad until 1953)."
- "Salt Lake City Streetcars".
- Bianco, Martha (1998). "Kennedy, 60 Minutes, and Roger Rabbit: Understanding Conspiracy-Theory Explanations of The Decline of Urban Mass Transit." (pdf). Discussion Paper. Center for Urban Studies. College of Urban and Public Affairs. Portland State University.: 98–110. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
- Lindley, Walter (1951-01-03). "United States v. National City Lines, Inc., et al.". United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Retrieved 2009-04-05.
- Slater, Cliff (1997). "General Motors and the Demise of Streetcars" (PDF). Transportation Quarterly. pp. 45–66.
- Snell, Bradford C. (1974). American ground transport: a proposal for restructuring the automobile, truck, bus, and rail industries. Washington: U.S. Government Print Office. A report presented to the Committee of the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly, United States Senate, February 26, 1974
- Snell, Bradford (Autumn 1995). "The StreetCar Conspiracy: How General Motors Deliberately Destroyed Public Transit". The New Electric Railway Journal – via Coachbuilt.com.
- Span, Guy (2003). "Paving the Way for Buses – The Great GM Streetcar Conspiracy, Part I – The Villains". baycrossings.com.
- Span, Guy (2003). "Paving the Way for Buses – The Great GM Streetcar Conspiracy, Part II – The Plot Clots". baycrossings.com.
- US Senate (1974). "Hearings before the Sub-Committee on Antitrust and Monopoly of the Committee on the Judiciary United States Senate, Ninety-third Congress, Second Session on S.1167 Part 4 Ground Transportation Industries, April 4, 9, 10 and 11".
- Adler, Sy (1991). The Transformation of the Pacific Electric Railway: Bradford Snell, Roger Rabbit, and the Politics of Transportation in Los Angeles. 27. Urban Affairs Quarterly.
- Bottles, Scott L (1987). Los Angeles and the Automobile. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-05795-3.
- Black, Edwin (2006). "10". Internal Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives. St. Martins Press.
- Fischel, W.A (2004). An Economic History of Zoning and a Cure for its Exclusionary Effects. Urban Studies. 41. pp. 317–40.
- Goddard, Stephen B. (1994). Getting There: The Epic Struggle between Road and Rail in the American Century. Basic Books.
- Hanson, S. and Giuliano, G. editors (2004). The Geography of Urban Transportation, Third Edition. The Guilford Press. ISBN 1-59385-055-7.
- Fellmeth Robert (1973). Politics of land: Ralph Nader's study group report on land use in California. Grossman Publishers. pp. 410–414, 488. ISBN 0-670-56326-9.
- Hilton, George W; Due, John F (1960). The Electric Interurban Railways in America. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-4014-3.
- Hilton, George W. What Did We Give Up With the Big Red Cars?.
- Jaffe, Eric. "Be Careful How You Refer to the So-Called 'Great American Streetcar Scandal'".
- Kwitny, Jonathan (1981). The Great Transportation Conspiracy: a juggernaut named desire. Harper's. pp. 14–15, 18, 20, 21.
- Kunstler, James Howard (1994). The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape. Free Press. ISBN 0-671-88825-0.
- Lewis, John E. The Mammoth Book of Conspiracies. Constable & Robinson Ltd. pp. 152–62.
- Norton, Peter D. (2008). Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City. MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-14100-0.
- Thompson, Gregory Lee (1993). The Passenger Train in the Motor Age: California's Rail and Bus Industries, 1910–1941. Ohio State University Press, Columbus, OH. ISBN 0-8142-0609-3.
- "The Great GM Conspiracy Legend: GM and the Red Cars", Stan Schwarz
- "Conflict of Transportation Competitors", Akos Szoboszlay
- "Did General Motors destroy the LA mass transit system?", The Straight Dope, 10-Jan-1986
- "Taken for a Ride", Jim Klein and Martha Olson – a 55-minute film first shown on PBS in August 1996
- United States v. National City Lines, Inc., 186 F.2d 562 (1951)
- Yellow Coach – 1923-1943- GMC Truck & Coach Division, General Motors Corp. – 1943–present – Detroit, Michigan
- Quinby's Warning – full text of Edwin J. Quinby's warning