Flashback: U.S. Cities- long journey to having rapid rail transit subway systems

Flashback: U.S. Cities- long journey to having rapid rail transit subway systems

This is a flashback sharing historical newspaper articles on a time when many American cities had great discussions regarding building rapid rail transit systems for the public. Today, many of these cities actually do have or are currently building rapid rail transit systems. Unfortunately, some of these cities have seen great population losses since the time of these earlier newspaper articles or stopped seeing major growth post the 1960s. Many American cities today are building light rail systems or modern streetcar systems instead of the “metro” or “heavy rail” systems, commonly seen in many of the world’s major cities, due to cost.

What might some of these cities listed below be like today, if they had built the major subway systems discussed in these historical articles? Washington, DC is one American city that did build a heavy rail system and it has had a positive impact on its entire metropolitan area.

Click article images below to enlarge. Click your return arrow to return to this Dilemma X article.
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Buffalo

On May 18, 1979 construction on the 6.2 mile Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Metro Rail line between downtown and University of Buffalo South Campus began. In 1986 light rail opened on Main Street from the Erie Canal Harbor station to University station.
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Video: Buffalo NFTA Metro subway

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Video: Buffalo NFTA Metro subway

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The earlier plans for a major Buffalo subway system
Buffalo Subway 1906
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Cincinnati
The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) Board voted to award a turn-key contract to Illinois-based Transdev on on July 6, 2015. That company will manage the system and hire its own private operators. Transdev will be paid $1.1 million between now and when the system begins operating in September 2016. During the first year of passenger service, the company will get about $3.3 million. City council has appropriated $4.2 million for the first year of streetcar operations.
Cincinnati SORTA Streetcar Construction

Cincinnati SORTA Streetcar Map

New Cincinnati streetcar tracks under construction 
Cincinnati SORTA Streetcar Track Construction
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Video: Cincinnati’s abandoned subway that was never completed

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Earlier plans for a major Cincinnati subway system
Cincinnati Subway 1920

Cincinnati Subway 1939
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Cleveland
In 1974, legislation enacted by the Cuyahoga County Commissioners and the City of Cleveland created the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA). Cleveland’s rapid transit system started between 1913-1920 when brothers O.P. and M.J. Van Sweringen developed the City of Shaker Heights. They connected the suburb and their Terminal Tower project with a private right-of-way light-rail, now called the Green and Blue lines. The First-light-rail train began operation on December 17, 1913. Shaker Rapid cars began using the Cleveland Union Terminal (CUT), after the Terminal Tower opened on July 20, 1930.

The Cleveland Transit System (CTS) broke ground for a heavy rail (Red Line) system behind the Windermere Carbarn, now Louis Stokes Station at Windermere, in East Cleveland on February 4, 1952. On March 15, 1955 service began between Tower City and Windermere.
On August 14, 1955, the Red Line was extended from the Cleveland Union Terminal to West 117th Street and Madison Avenue.

In March 1957, Cuyahoga County Engineer Albert Porter recommended against building a downtown Cleveland subway system.

On November 15, 1958. Red Line rail service opened an extension of 1.84 miles from the West 117th Street Station to the Triskett Station and the West 143rd/Lorain Station. The Triskett Garage.

On November 15, 1968 a 4-mile rail extension opened to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, making Cleveland the first city in the Western Hemisphere to offer direct rapid rail transit service to its major airport. The Puritas Red Line Station.
On April 20, 1969, The Brookpark Red Line Station opened and on March 1, 1971, a Red Line station opened at East 34th Street-Campus.
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Video: Cleveland RTA Red Line

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Video: Cleveland RTA Red Line

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Video: Cleveland RTA Light Rail

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Earlier plans for a major Cleveland subway system
Cleveland Subway 1909

Cleveland Subway 1928
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Detroit
The Detroit Transportation Corporation, City of Detroit, is owner and operator of the Detroit People Mover. The Detroit People Mover (DPM) is a fully automated light rail system that was developed as part of a planned regional transit system. The People Mover operates on an elevated single track loop in Detroit’s central business district. The 2.9 mile system provides connections between the courts and administrative offices of several levels of government, sports arenas, exhibition centers, major hotels, and commercial, banking and retail districts. The DTC fleet consists of twelve driverless vehicles that are fully automated and computer controlled. Source: Detroit Transportation Corporation
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Video: Downtown Detroit’s existing People Mover

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Detroit M-1 Light Rail rendering
Detroit M1 Light Rail
The new Detroit 3.3-mile streetcar route will include 20 stations serving 12 locations and connect riders to key destinations along Woodward Avenue. The streetcar will serve curb-side stations for nearly the entire length of the route, transitioning to center-running at the north and south ends of the system.

Brookville Equipment of Brookville, Pa., will supply the 6 streetcars as well as spare parts and support services at a cost of $32 million for the new M-1 Rail streetcar line in Detroit.
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Earlier plans for a major Detroit subway system
Detroit Subway 1923

Detroit Subway 1926

Detroit Subway 1928

Detroit Subway 1933

Detroit Subway 1969

Detroit Subway 1976
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Pittsburgh
Port Authority of Allegheny County provides public transportation throughout Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. The Authority was created in 1959 when the Pennsylvania Legislature authorized the consolidation of 33 private transit carriers, many of which were failing financially. The consolidation included the Pittsburgh Railways Company along with 32 independent bus and inclined plane companies. Today, The T is a 26.2-mile light rail system that runs from the North Shore and Downtown Pittsburgh through Pittsburgh’s southern neighborhoods and many South Hills suburbs. – Source: Port Authority of Allegheny County
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Video: Pittsburgh “T” subway

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Video: Pittsburgh “T” subway Station

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Video: Pittsburgh Port Authority Transit (PAT) Light Rail

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Earlier plans for a major Pittsburgh subway system
Pittsburgh Subway 1906

Pittsburgh Subway 1906

Pittsburgh Subway 1906

Pittsburgh Subway 1907

Pittsburgh Subway 1913
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St. Louis
In 1987, the East-West Gateway Coordinating Council (the region’s metropolitan planning organization) completed a study that explored several options for transit improvements. A light-rail transit system with bus interface was selected as the preferred alternative.

Construction of the light-rail system began in 1990. The project took advantage of miles of unused rail bed and railroad right-of-ways that were expandable, as well as an unused rail deck on the Eads Bridge and tunnels under the downtown Central Business District.

Three years later, on July 31, 1993, MetroLink debuted with a three-day, fare-free introduction to the St. Louis region. At the time there were 16 stations over 14 miles from St. Louis County in Missouri to St. Clair County in Illinois.

MetroLink expanded service to Lambert Airport in 1994, as well as to the new East Riverfront MetroLink Station. MetroLink added another station at Lambert Airport to the East Terminal (now known as Terminal #2) in 1998.

The St. Clair MetroLink extension, and construction of the new line began in 1998.

In 2001, MetroLink y began operation of the St. Clair County MetroLink Extension, serving 8 new MetroLink Stations from 5th & Missouri in East St. Louis to Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville, IL. MetroLink service would further grow in 2003, with the addition of service to the Shiloh-Scott MetroLink station in Illinois and in 2006, with the opening of the Cross County MetroLink Extension. The Cross County MetroLink Extension expanded MetroLink service into mid-St. Louis County from Forest Park, serving 9 new stations and 8 miles into the heart of the region. Metro Transit also began serving 7 new MetroBus Transfer Centers, expanded Metro Call-A-Ride service hours and opened parking facilities at the North Hanley and Brentwood I-64 MetroLink Stations. –Source: Metro Transit
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Video: St. Louis Metrolink subway

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Video: St. Louis – MetroLink – Richmond Heights Station to Clayton Station

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Earlier plans for a major St. Louis subway system
St Louis Subway 1909

St Louis Subway 1924
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Washington
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) was created by an interstate compact in 1967 to plan, develop, build, finance, and operate a balanced regional transportation system in the national capital area. Metro began building its rail system in 1969, acquired four regional bus systems in 1973, and began operating the first phase of Metrorail in 1976. Today, Metrorail serves 91 stations and has 117 miles of track. – Source: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
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Video: Washington Metrorail subway

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Earlier plans for a Washington subway system
Washington Subway 1909

Washington Subway 1909

Washington Subway 1909 map

Washington Subway 1909 Route

Washington Subway 1909

Washington Subway 1909

Washington Subway 1909

Washington Subway 1909

Washington Subway 1909

Washington Subway 1909

Washington Subway 1909

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