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 today's bus routes.


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.

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