PUBLIC TRANSIT THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES

(CURRENT AND PAST SYSTEMS)

Included is general information a concise history for most transit systems throughout the 48 contiguous United States.

Also listed are the historic companies which had previously operated the bus and streetcar systems in each city, and years of last streetcar, and first and last trolleybus. Also mentioned are systems with rapid transit lines and new "light rail" lines.

Most transit systems became publicly owned around the 1970's. Typically, a privately owned system was a "company" or "Co.". While a publicly owned system would be an "Authority" or "District" or "System". Some publicly owned transit systems began as city systems, but later expanded into regional systems, as indicated. And some publicly owned transit systems were simply renamed for marketing reasons.

For most states, in addition to major metropolitan areas, transit systems are divided into two groups, or two web pages. Following the major metropolitan areas, the first group for each state are generally cities or clusters of cities with a 1940 Census population of at least 25,000. And included are certain cities which experienced phenomenal growth into larger cities, such as Las Vegas. Also included are state capital cities and cities with major universities, with a long history of public transportation. In these cities, traditional fixed route bus systems typically continue to exist.

The second group for each state are the smaller cities. Where public transit survives, many of these smaller transit systems eventually evolved to dial a ride operations, no longer with scheduled fixed routes. Some dial a ride systems are only available to people with disabilities or to senior citizens.

For the larger cities, web links are provided for the present day transit systems. Web links are not included for the smaller transit systems, as that has proven to be too complex due to many changing links.

American Public Transportation Association

Web site includes links to most transit systems throughout the United States. Although some information is out of date. Most of the main pages for each individual state include links to statewide web sites, with links to transit system web sites. This might typically include a state government Department of Transportation, or a Public Transit Association which is normally a trade organization of the transit systems within a state. All of these web sites can aid in identifying present transit systems serving smaller cities.


PUBLIC OWNERSHIP OF TRANSIT - CITY AND REGIONAL

Public transportation traditionally serves cities. And when transit systems began needing public support, typically a city would take over the unprofitable transit system. But suburbanization and population shifts now require more regional or county wide transit systems. And innovative rural transit systems have been introduced in many counties throughout the United States.


STREETCAR AND BUS OWNERSHIP/HOLDING COMPANIES

As indicated on the above pages describing historic transit companies in each state, many streetcar systems were actually owned by the electric power companies, some of which in turn were were parts of even larger holding companies. But the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 changed all that, leading to the National City Lines conspiracy, where some transit systems fell under control of automobile interests.

Next to certain company names in parentheses are holding companies, ultimately owning a particular company.

Streetcar companies are mentioned in the Moody and the Poor investment manuals, and "The Trolley And Interurban Directory", by Joseph Gross. But it is possible, that some streetcar systems failed to be completed, and were never actually operated.


OBSCURE SUBURBAN/INTERURBAN BUS LINES

A few bus companies are identified as "Private bus co. in 1952". The history of many bus companies is obscure, and the only references found for these bus companies are listings in the 1952 "Mass Transportation's Directory".

In addition to the traditional city transit systems which started out as streetcar systems, there existed a number of independent suburban bus lines, which in many cases have basically been forgotten. But the 1952 "Mass Transportation's Directory" provides an interesting "snapshot", of what obscure bus companies had coexisted with the main transit providers.


INTERURBAN JOURNEYS

An informal look at the question: How far can one travel, using only local transportation systems? A further indication of which states have been more supportive of public transportation, and have transit systems which interconnect.


Go to Chicago Transit & Railfan Web Site