Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Public Transit at a Crossroads

Accession Number P75-54-0054g, Hughes Company Glass Negatives Collection,
Courtesy of the Photography Collections, University of Maryland ,Baltimore County

Transit severely declined after the 1918 annexation. As major cities like Baltimore increased in size, it was expected that people would rely more on transit; yet, between 1920 and 1930, rider numbers in Baltimore and Cincinnati decreased thirty to forty percent. There were multiple reasons for the decline. Many people were dissatisfied with the service. The equipment used on streetcars was old, the cars were often crowded, and fares expensive. Residents who moved to the newly annexed areas had little access to streetcar lines. Because United could not afford to build lines in majority of those areas, many residents ended up buying automobiles. Lines that were built near the suburbs were many times unprofitable. As a result of the decline, some streetcar routes may have looked like this picture. The line is in an area with few riders perhaps because residents cannot or do not want to take the streetcar. Also note the automobile in the picture which is easily moving from the interior of that area, representing easy mobility.

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