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March 03, 2009
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APTA > Industry Information > Transit Statistics > Public Transportation History Statistics  

Milestones in U.S. Public Transportation History

Milestones in U.S. Public Transportation History

1630        Boston--reputed first publicly operated ferryboat
1740        New York--reputed first use of ox carts for carrying of passengers
1811        New York--first mechanically operated (steam-powered) ferryboat
1827        New York--first horse-drawn urban stagecoach (omnibus) line (Dry Dock & East Broadway)
1830        Baltimore--first railroad (Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co.)
1832        New York--first horse-drawn street railway line (New York & Harlem Railroad Co.)
1835        New Orleans--oldest street railway line still operating (New Orleans & Carrollton line)
1838        Boston--first commuter fares on a railroad (Boston & West Worcester Railroad)
1850        New York--first use of exterior advertising on street railways
1856        Boston--first fare-free promotion
1870        Pittsburgh--first inclined plane
1871        New York--first steam-powered elevated line (New York Elevated Railroad Co.)
1872        Great Epizootic horse influenza epidemic in eastern states kills thousands of horses (the motive power for most street railways)
1873        San Francisco--first successful cable-powered line (Clay St. Hill Railroad)
1874        San Francisco, CA--first recorded strike by street railway workers
1882        Boston--American Street Railway Association (APTA's original predecessor) formed
1883        New York--first publicly operated cable-powered line (Brooklyn Bridge)
1883        New York--first surviving street railway labor organization (Knights of Labor Local 2878)
1884        Cleveland--first electric street railway line (East Cleveland Street Railway)
1884        first public transportation-only publication (The Street Railway Journal)
1886        Montgomery, AL--first semi-successful citywide electric street railway transit agency (Capital City Street Railway Co.)
1888        Richmond, VA--first successful electric street railway transit agency (Union Passenger Railway)
1889        New York--first major strike by street railway workers
1892        Indianapolis--first national street railway labor union founded (Amalgamated Association of Street Railway Employees of America, now called the Amalgamated Transit Union)
1893        Portland, OR--first interurban rail line (East Side Railway Co.)
1894        Boston--first public transportation commission (Boston Transit Commission)
1895        Chicago--first electric elevated rail line (Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railway)
1897        Boston--first electric underground street railway line (West End Street Railway/Boston Elevated Railway Co.)
1897        Boston--first publicly-financed public transportation facility (street railway tunnel)
1898        Chicago--first electric multiple-unit controlled rail line (Chicago & South Side Rapid Transit Railroad Co.)
1904        Bismarck, ND--first state-operated street railway (State of North Dakota Capital Car Line)
1904        New York--first electric underground (& first 4-track express) heavy rail line (Interborough Rapid Transit Co.)
1905        New York--first public takeover of a private public transportation company (Staten Island Ferry)
1905        New York--first bus line (Fifth Avenue Coach Co.)
1906        Monroe, LA--first municipally-owned street railway 1908        New York--first interstate underground heavy rail line (Hudson & Manhattan Railroad to New Jersey)
1910        Hollywood, CA--first trolleybus line (Laurel Canyon Utilities Co.)
1912        San Francisco--first publicly operated street railway in a large city (San Francisco Municipal Railway)
1912        Cleveland--first street railway to operate buses (Cleveland Railway)
1916        Saint Louis--first public bus-only transit agency (St. Louis Division of Parks and Recreation Municipal Auto Bus Service)
1917        New York--last horse-drawn street railway line closed
1920        first bus not based on truck chassis (Fageol Safety Coach)
1921        New York--first successful trolleybus line
1923        Bay City, MI, Everett, WA, Newburgh, NY--first cities to replace all streetcars with buses
1926        highest peacetime public transportation ridership before World War II (17.2 billion)
1927        Philadelphia--first automobile park and ride lot and first bus-rail transfer facility for a non-commuter rail line
1932        New York--first publicly operated heavy rail line (Independent Subway)
1933        San Antonio--first large city to replace all streetcars with buses
1934        New York--Transport Workers Union of America founded
1935        Washington--Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 requires most power companies to divest themselves of public transportation operations and eliminates much private public transportation financing
1936        New York--first industry-developed standardized street railway car (P.C.C. car) (Brooklyn & Queens Transit System)
1936        Washington--first large-scale federal government public transportation assistance (Public Works Administration)
1938        Chicago--first use of federal capital funding to build a public transportation rail line
1939        Chicago--first street with designated bus lane
1940        first time bus ridership exceeded street railway ridership
1940        San Francisco becomes last surviving cable car transit agency
1941        New York, NY--first racially-integrated bus operator workforce
1943        Los Angeles--first rail line in expressway median (Pacific Electric Railway)
1943        New York--first issue of Transit Fact Book (then called "The Transit Industry of the United States, Basic Data and Trends")
1946        highest-ever public transportation ridership (23.4 billion)
1946        Washington--U.S. Supreme Court bans racial segregation in interstate transportation
1952        San Francisco--last new PCC car for U.S. transit agency placed in service
1958        authority for railroads to discontinue commuter service transferred from states to U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission
1961        Washington--first significant federal public transportation legislation (Housing & Urban Development Act of 1961)
1962        Seattle--first monorail (Seattle World's Fair)
1962        New York--first automated heavy rail line (Grand Central Shuttle)
1963        Chicago becomes last surviving city with interurban line (Chicago, South Shore, & South Bend Railroad)
1964        Washington--first major U.S. government public transportation program (Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964)
1966        New York--first public takeover of commuter railroad (Long Island Rail Road Co.)
1966        Providence--first statewide transit agency (Rhode Island Public Transit Authority)
1968        Washington--agency administering federal public transportation program re-named Urban Mass Transportation Administration and moved to new Department of Transportation
1968        Minneapolis--first downtown transit mall (Nicollet Mall)
1968        Cleveland--first rail station at an airport opened
1969        Washington--first transitway (Shirley Highway)
1969        Philadelphia--first modern heavy rail transit agency replacing former rail line (Port Authority Transit Corporation)
1970        Fort Walton Beach, FL--first dial-a-ride demand response transit agency
1971        Washington--first federally subsidized intercity passenger railroad (AMTRAK)
1972        San Francisco--first computer-controlled heavy rail transit agency (Bay Area Rapid Transit District)
1972        public transportation ridership hits lowest point in 20th century (6.6 billion)
1973        Washington--some public transportation service required to be accessible to disabled (Rehabilitation Act of 1973)
1974        Boston, Cleveland, Newark, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, & San Francisco become the last street railway systems
1974        Washington--first federal public transportation operating assistance legislation (National Mass Transportation Assistance Act of 1974)
1974        American Public Transit Association formed from merger of 2 organizations
1975        Morgantown, WV--first automated guideway transit agency (West Virginia University)
1977        San Diego--first wheelchair-lift-equipped fixed-route bus
1979        Washington--first standardized public transportation data accounting system (Section 15)
1980        San Diego--first completely new light rail transit agency in decades (San Diego Trolley)
1983        Washington--public transportation trust fund for capital projects created through dedication of one cent of federal gas tax
1989        Miami--first completely new commuter rail transit agency in decades (Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority)
1990        Washington--virtually all public transportation service required to be accessible to disabled (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990)
1990        Washington--public transportation buses subject to strict pollution controls (Clean Air Act of 1990)
1991        Washington--federal government allowed to subsidize its employees' commuting costs
1991        Washington--first general authorization of use of highway funds for public transportation (Intermodal Surface Transp. Efficiency Act)
1992        Washington--first limitation on amount of tax-free employer-paid automobile parking benefits and tripling of value of tax-free benefit for public transportation use (National Energy Policy Strategy Act)
1993        Washington--public transportation workers in safety-sensitive positions subjected to drug and alcohol testing
1998        Washington--major expansion and restructuring of federal transportation program (Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century)
2000        American Public Transit Association changes name to American Public Transportation Association
2005        Federal transit law (SAFETEA-LU) reauthorized extending federal funding through 2009

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