An informal look at the question: How far can one travel, using only local transportation systems?
At one time, in some parts of the United States, a fascinating network of electric railways existed. Local and interurban routes connected with other routes, forming long unbroken chains of electric railways. Interurban railways were extensive in the Midwest, while many cities in the Northeast were close enough together for their local streetcar systems to interconnect. If one had time, one could travel quite far, strictly using local transit systems.
MIDWEST INTERURBAN RAILWAYS
Many of the interurban railways of the past, were basically extensions of the local streetcar systems, into the country and on to neighboring towns. Sometimes a single company operated both streetcars and interurban lines, serving several cities in an area. Sometimes the interurban lines were operated by a separate company, using trackage rights over a local streetcar company to enter a city. Sometimes that local streetcar company had its own interurban lines, operating in other directions. Sometimes multiple interurban railway companies teamed up to operate joint through service, extending the range of possible interurban trips.
The Midwest had a major portion of the interurban railway mileage throughout the country, with the possibility of many long journeys. Unfortunately, very few of these journeys are longer possible with the present bus systems. Most of the bus systems replacing the interurban railways eventually became part of Greyhound. And after deregulation in the 1980's, Greyhound was allowed to abandon local routes, instead focusing on more profitable express routes operating via Interstate highways, serving only the largest cities.
Color coded maps illustrate the extensive interurban railway journeys, which were possible in the Midwest in the early 20th Century.
INTERURBAN CONNECTIONS BEYOND THE MIDWEST
The most densely populated part of the United States has always been the Northeast Corridor, through Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington. Local electric railways previously connected many of the cities in this area, and many present day local bus systems continue to interconnect. In addition, some local electric railways interconnected in the Pittsburgh area, and a number of interurban lines existed in Upstate New York.
Color coded maps illustrate the extensive interurban railway journeys, which were possible in the Northeast in the early 20th Century.
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