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The Motorization of American Cities Hardcover – July 16, 1986

ISBN-13: 978-0275921262 ISBN-10: 0275921263

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Editorial Reviews


?The author describes in considerable detail the alleged conspiracy of General Motors and related highway interests to eliminate streetcars in American cities in the 1930s and 1940s in order to promote auto sales and highway construction.... The book will appeal to rail fans and students of transportation policy and history.?-Choice

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 201 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (July 16, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275921263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275921262
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,418,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By on May 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
An excellent treatise on the demise of privately owned transit companies is The Motorization of American Cities by David St. Clair, a professor of economics. Mr. St. Clair details how government was largely responsible for the streetcars demise: large taxes (percent of revenue and others); requirements for street paving (6% of revenue in LA) that only benefited the competition; snow removal from street (where applicable); hostility of public staff to private companies; regulation that required uniform fares (could not lower it for heavily used lines), often forced streetcars to subsidize buses, proscribed routes and service, and sometimes even specified inefficient 2-man operation (one man to collect tickets) for streetcars (but not for buses); government subsidized freeways that severed many streetcar lines without compensation for rerouting; the pro-automobile bias of government in street usage (e.g., one-way streets that discourage bicycle and transit usage, including buses); the terms of a renewed franchise (many expired in 1930s) often specified cancellation by government on short (sometimes 90 day) notice (and made risky further investment in streetcar tracks); the Public Holding Company Act (became effective in 1938) forced the sale of many transit companies (for example, the Sacramento transit company which was then bought by Pacific City Lines, a GM "front", in 1938); and finally, the franchise itself prevented another transit company from competing and enabled National City Lines and other GM "front" companies to liquidate streetcar technology (by substituting inferior buses) and prevented competition by much more efficient electric technology that then (after the takeovers) was not allowed to compete.Read more ›
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