1974.06.01: Destruction L.A. Rapid Transit (Red Tide)

Rapid Transit

Red Tide #13
Summer 1974

Destruction L.A. Rapid Transit
[By] Michael Letwin – Uni High

We of the Red Tide are always talking about how the rich rule this country in their interests and not in the interests of the vast numbers of people. Here’s an example.

A recent article in the L.A. Times (2/25/74) reported that three huge corporations: General Motors, Standard Oil of California, and Firestone Tires, have played a dominant role in destroying more than 100 electric train transit systems (rapid transit) in 45 cities – including Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, St. Louis and Los Angeles – between the years of 1932 and 1956. According to a recent study made by Bradford C. Snell, Southern California was hit hardest by the conspiracy of the above-mentioned companies.

WORLD’S LARGEST SYSTEM

For those of us who don’t remember, Southern California once had the world’s largest interurban electric railway system[,] which was run by Pacific Electric. In 1945 alone, its “Big Red Cars” carried 110 million passengers. The last of these trains ran in 1961, only 59 years after the line was opened.

SMOG INSTEAD

Snell says the destruction of the system was accomplished by National City Lines, a sort of front company for GM, Standard Oil of Calif., and Firestone Tires. These companies gave $9 million by 1950 to convert 16 states to GM buses. The bus lines were sold to operators who were required to sign a contract specifying the types of equipment they could buy. Slowly but surely, these companies were able to buy up the smog-free rapid transit systems in many cities and provided instead noisy, dirty buses that take hours to transport one, instead of the high speed clean rail system. The fact that these buses were so unpleasant had the effect on many more people to buy cares, causing more smog, freeways, but most importantly – profits for GM and its partners!

We all know how good it would be to have a decent rapid transit system, which could be [non]-polluting, clean and fast. L.A. and the surrounding area once was provided with one.

IT WASN’T AN ACCIDENT

It did not disappear by accident! When several of the world’s largest corporations saw that they could make more money, even if it meant that the people of the area would suffer, they jumped at the chance.

It is for this reason that we advocate a social and economic system which would be democratically controlled and owned by the large number of working people in society, so that the power of a few of the rich to ruin the rest of our lives for profits would no longer exist.

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See: http://theredtide.wordpress.com/] 

 

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