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Public Utilities, Second Edition

Old Problems, New Challenges

David E. McNabb

A thoroughly updated introduction to the current issues and challenges facing managers and administrators in the investor and publicly owned utility industry, this engaging volume addresses management concerns in five sectors of the utility industry: electric power, natural gas, water, wastewater systems and public transit.
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Chapter 8: Public transit utilities

David E. McNabb


Public transportation in the United States, except for ferryboats and barges, only became necessary and broadly available with the growth of cities in the mid-nineteenth century. Prior to then, work was almost always within walking distance of people. However, as municipal concentrations such as Boston and Philadelphia grew and distances increased, horse-pulled stagecoaches, patterned after the coaches common in Great Britain, were introduced. Soon, similar carriages were introduced in other growing cities. By the 1830s, carriages traveling on iron rails had been introduced in New York City. The first common carrier steam-powered railroad, the Baltimore and Ohio, began operations in 1830. Substantial growth, however, had to wait until the end of the Civil War. Street railways, elevated lines and horse-drawn carriages were soon common. The era of horse-drawn public transit was curtailed in the 1870s when an epidemic killed thousands of horses—18,000 died in New York alone. In an effort to halt the spread of the disease, as well as reduce the pollution, city fathers sought other means of public transit. One new approach, cable-hauled street railways were first installed in San Francisco in 1873. A similar system followed in hilly Seattle, Washington and many others were installed around the country. In 1882, representatives from five U.S. cities met to form the country’s first Street Railway Association. By 1887, Chicago was operating 150 cable car trains daily. Urban transit was here to stay (APTA 2014a).Growth in public transportation began to grow at a faster pace after electrification...

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