The earliest street railways used cars pulled by horses. By the 1890's, electric streetcars had been developed, and throughout the 1890's nearly all of the horse cars were replaced with electric streetcars. Many electric railway systems became owned by the electric power companies, and some streetcar systems became part of interurban railway systems.

By the 1930's and 1940's, all of the streetcars were replaced with buses, except in a few of the largest cities. Some bus systems continued to be owned by power companies, other bus systems were owned by various different types of companies of different sizes. And by the end of the 1970's, nearly all transit systems were publicly owned. Although many transit agencies would contract with private transit management companies to operate the transit systems.

Most transit systems became owned by the cities served. Although in certain larger metropolitan areas, regional transit authorities were approved by the states and the voters to develop comprehensive transit systems serving both cities and suburbs.


A brief historical look at the streetcar companies and early bus companies in various major United States cities, and how their routes evolved into bus routes operated by the public transit agencies.


Transit histories for several additional Midwest cities.


Brief histories of transit systems in cities throughout the United States, organized by state.

All-Time List of Canadian Transit Systems
While this web site attempts to provide comprehensive coverage of the US, the linked web site here provides comprehensive coverage of Canada.

This section originally focused on transportation within the Chicago area. Then over the years, information was added covering additional cities in the Midwest. And later covering cities in the remainder of the United States.

For the transit systems in the largest cities, the goal is to relate the bus routes of the publicly owned transit systems to the past. Relate the bus routes to the past streetcar and bus companies, tracing the route history back to the beginnings of public transportation in that area. At times it can be fascinating, untangling the sometimes complex transit histories, especially in areas where multiple transit companies operated.

For each city covered, the information on this Web site is by no means complete. Emphasis is on routes which evolved from streetcar and bus routes introduced by the private transit companies. And many bus routes introduced by the publicly owned transit agencies are not listed. Availability of information is usually dependent on how much has been published about the different city transit systems. In many cases, the history covered focuses on prior to the public takeover of many transit systems.

For the Midwest cities, historic streetcar and bus rosters are included. Historic bus roster information usually is provided up to around the year 2000. For more contemporary bus roster information, links are generally provided to other web sites.

Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board

This web site seems to contain some of the most up to date bus roster information throughout the country.

In addition, many major cities have a Wikipedia page, linked from the pages here covering those cities. These Wikipedia pages usually contain the most recent bus roster information available, and additional timely information. But of course any information on the Web, including this web site, cannot be solely relied on for all of the absolute facts.

Information from various sources, including the Moody investment manuals, various issues of the magazine "Motor Coach Age", and "The Trolley And Interurban Directory", by Joseph Gross. Because some transit companies were privately held at various times, and thus not included in the Moody manuals, some information is incomplete. A few private bus companies are identified in the 1952 "Mass Transportation's Directory". Any additional information on transit systems and Web sites would be appreciated. Bill Vandervoort

Go to Chicago Transit & Railfan Web Site