Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Lesson in How Corporate Greed and Collusion Impacts Quality of Life in Our Cities

In the early 1920s, Los Angeles had the largest and most effective trolley car system in the United States, the Pacific City Lines. I rode the electric “red cars” as a kid growing up in LA during the late Thirties and the Forties. The demise of this popular system had little to do with consumer preference for buses, or even automobiles (which few people could afford). It was the result of collusion between the producers of oil, rubber, buses, and, ultimately, automobiles.
Pacific Electric Red Cars on Terminal Island awaiting destruction
With financing from these special interests, over 100 electric surface-traction systems in 45 cities including Baltimore, Newark, Los Angeles, New York City, Oakland and San Diego were purchased and converted into bus operation. Several of the companies involved were convicted in 1949 of conspiracy to monopolize interstate commerce. For this conspiracy, each of the companies was fined $5,000. The bargain gained Los Angeles and other cities victimized by the scheme choking smog and other forms of air pollution. Today, America’s dismal record on implementing mass transit and controlling air pollution can be traced directly back to collusion on the part of Standard Oil, Firestone Tire and Rubber, General Motors, and other business operations interested in putting the "rubber to the road."
Los Angeles From the air

1 comment:

Robert Leabow said...

This is the standard BS that many have heard and believed in. Was it greed, maybe, but from the start the Red Car system did not make a profit, agreements made in the 1900 with local government and OUR DESIRE FOR OUR OWN CAR was the major problem. Remember the last streetcar lines were done by the government transit agency at the time. Yes, there was politics involved, but don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

I also rode both the Red and Yellow cars. When I was old enough to get my driver’s license and car, I was glad to see these streetcars that blocked the roads disappear. I was part of the problem like almost every other family who bought cars after WW-II. Ridership was dropping even before WW-II. WW-II extended the life of the streetcar.

All public transportation must be subsidized. Other countries see this and know that overall does help the bottom line of businesses, except the U.S. that thinks everything has to break even or make a profit or it is no-good. The problem today is government wants to kill rail transportation