Included are concise histories for most transit systems throughout the 48 contiguous United States.

Also listed are the historic companies which had previously operated the public transportation systems in each city, and years of operation of each type of public transportation vehicle.

Streetcar companies are mentioned in the Moody and the Poor investment manuals, the McGraw Electric Railway Directories, the McGraw publication Street Railway Journal and its successor Electric Railway Journal, 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.

Some transit systems were identified as locally based in certain cities, which were suburbs of certain larger cities. But in actuality, some of those systems may have been primarily to connect with the larger city, rather than provide local service within the suburb. Such systems somewhat resembled interurban carriers.

A few bus companies are identified as "Private bus co. in 1952". The only references found for these bus companies are listings in the 1952 "Mass Transportation's Directory".

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 certain densely populated areas, listings are organized by counties or by transit district jurisdictions. Many of these areas now have countywide or regional transit systems.

For the larger cities or areas, 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.

Every attempt was made to obtain accurate historical information for the public transportation providers. But some information is lacking for some of the largest cities and the more densely populated regions, including overlapping metropolitan areas. The historic existence of multiple streetcar and bus companies, along with mergers and consolidations, make the tracing of such histories more challenging. Also, some of these lines might have been more of an "interurban" nature. For many cities, independent suburban streetcar companies are not included. Although certain independent steam dummy and cable railways are mentioned.


American Public Transportation Association

Web site includes links to most transit systems throughout the United States. Although some information is out of date.

List of Streetcar Systems in the United States

American Transit Agencies

These Wikipedia pages include some of the same information on this web site, but presented in different ways.

From this web page, 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.

Many transit systems now have Wikipedia pages, which include history and fleet and additional information. Each page usually can be found through a Google search. But of course any information on the Web, including this web site, cannot be solely relied on for all of the absolute facts.


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