Discussion in 'The big picture' started by Jez, Feb 24, 2007.
A good piece on transport in Melbourne which you can extrapolate to any other urban centre:
Since its you Jez, I guess you already know that GM. Firestone and the oil companies were fined in some cases and implicated in other cases in conspiring to have the trolleys or trams REMOVED from US cities.
I dont know why they took Sydney's trams away - probably because they were following blindly what was happening in the US.
Use wikipedia for more info on the cities where the companies conspired to have the trams removed.
Another piece of evil - rigorously applied stupidity. (with profit as the motive).
edited to remove double post and insert this from Wiki:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Great American Streetcar Scandal,
also known as the General Motors streetcar conspiracy refers to General Motors, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California and Phillips Petroleum forming National City Lines (NCL) holding company, which acquired most streetcar systems throughout the United States, dismantled them, and replaced them with buses in the early 20th Century. The scandal alleges that NCL's companies had an ulterior motive to forcibly gain mass use of the automobile among the U.S. population by buying up mass light rail transportation and dismantling it.
* 1 Background
* 2 Elements
* 3 Further reading
* 4 See also
* 5 External links
Between 1936 and 1950, National City Lines bought out more than 100 electric surface-traction systems in 45 cities, including New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Tulsa, Baltimore, and Los Angeles, and replaced them with GM buses. The scandal is rehashed in books like Fast Food Nation; testimony by Government Attorney Bradford Snell to a United States Senate inquiry in 1974 gave the scandal its current prevalence and weight in U.S. popular culture.
Depending on who is telling the story, to one degree or another, the scandal also invokes the Interstate Highway System, which began its initial construction in California after the large-scale dismantling of that state's trolley network, as a culprit. Some documentation of the California rapid transit interurban systems (some pieces of which survive as local and semi-local transport systems) is often best provided by amateur historians such as The Electric Railway Historical Association of Southern California.
Technically, the scandal would rightly be called the National City Lines scandal or the General Motors-Firestone-Standard Oil-National City Lines scandal. However, GM was the most prominent of the companies and had engaged in similar behavior before the scandal took place. Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., long-time president of GM in the early 20th century, developed a business strategy to expand auto sales and maximize profits by eliminating streetcars. GM's own files  say that Sloan established a special unit in 1922 within the corporation charged, among other things, with the task of replacing the United States' electric railways with cars, trucks, and buses.
The trolley industry's problems did largely predate auto's interest in getting rid of that industry, so some transportation historians argue that the conversion to buses would likely have occurred anyway, given that streetcar ridership was steadily declining through this period due to things like:
* Deterioration of streetcar systems during World War II, during which no new rolling stock and few replacement parts were manufactured;
* Politically or socially-motivated opponents of streetcar systems like Robert Moses and New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia (Between 1926 and 1936 GM acquired New York Railways, but left it languishing under continued underinvestment and poor service);
* Federal subsidy of competing systems;
* Competition with automobiles for road space, and
Los Angeles had two separate trolley systems, known as the Red Cars and the Yellow Cars, but National City Lines owned only one of the two systems. Both ended up being dismantled. It is worth noting that the two systems were often used in conjunction by travelers, and cutting service on one line made the other less convenient as compared to automobiles. During this period automobile ownership was rising everywhere, in cities both with and without GM purchasing the local streetcar systems.
The case ultimately reached the United States Supreme Court in United States v. National City Lines Inc. 334 U.S. 573, 596 (1948) ("National City I") which reversed lower court rulings on the case. The proceedings were against General Motors, its subsidiary National City Lines, and seven other corporations. They were indicted on two counts under the US Sherman Antitrust Act. The charges, in summary, were conspiracy to acquire control of a number of transit companies, forming a transportation monopoly (all defendants were acquitted on this charge), and conspiring to monopolize sales of buses and supplies to companies owned by National City Lines (General Motors alone was convicted on this charge)
google "Great American Streetcar conspiracy"and it's give lots of links to take you off surfing around the murky depths of Corporations.
Standard Oil and its sale of Ethyl to the Nazis for jsut one............
Nah, I didn't know that Heuro...but of course, it doesn't surprise me.
I've never really had much to do with trams, apart from admiring them in an aesthetic sense...now I know there's a lot more to like in terms of efficiency. 8)
Undoubtedly it was the same process of pressure to build roads and subsidise the auto industry that did for trams in Australia. Of course, they were in Brisbane and Adelaide, I think Hobart too. It would be interesting to look into why Melbourne was able to hang onto theirs. Probably they had a government that was controlled by Unions at the time!
There was a great series of documentaries on this on a few programs on Radio National about 6 months ago. Until the trams were phased out, suburban developments were actually built along public transport lines so you could walk from your house to your tram or train stop and get to work. We actually a sensible, modern public transit system before the disease of the private motor car took over the fabric of our lives!
One of the things I most fondly remember from travelling in Australia years ago as a touring musician was riding the tram around Melbourne (and that may be why I enjoyed Melbourne more than any other city there). Cheap, practical, charming, fun and certainly a part of the cities 'character.'
I don't think the immediately underlying issue is ignorance of the facts or stupidity. The 'powers that be' are really motivated, even mandated by one thing- continued and sustained economic growth (and all of it's attendant and fundamental irrationality and insanity). By that measure, more people driving more cars is in fact more 'efficient,' generating more jobs, more consumer activity, yadda, yadda, yadda. By the currently dominant mindset, their decisions sadly make perfect 'logical' sense.
Can't recall if I posted this in these forums yet or not-
Ties in with it all in an utterly depressing (though hard to argue against) way...
I dunno if you have lived in Melbourne but trams do have a real impact on real estate values there. Anywhere close to a tram route can ask and get a premium for either rental properties or sales.
I like Melbourne's trams too and whenever I get to Melbourne I try and use them.
Those cities that got rid of their trams for 'efficiency' reasons should have annual effigy burnings of the idiots who made those decisions. It has been a long time since Melbourne had a public hanging but I think they would reinstitute the institution for any politician silly enough to moot the removal of trams, and so they should.
G'day All, and thanks for the lead-in, Jez
Great thread! The systematic attack on the tram-car goes back a long way. Once it was found that (road) cars provided much more in terms of revenue for the government, and profit for the auto and petroleum industries, the tram-car industry was doomed and the great urban sprawl of the 20th century began.
For an interesting spin on the above, check-out the following:
An Eco-Marxist Analysis of Oil Depletion via Urban Sprawl by George A. Gonzalez. Environmental Politics, Vol 15, No. 4, 515 – 531, August 2006. Routledge, London.
https://www.informaworld.com/smpp/conten ... 0600785135
****Sorry the above is only available (freely) in abstract form. If you would like a copy of the full-text original (only to be used for educational purposes, of course), PM me and I'll email one out to you. Or you can most likely source a copy through your local library data-base.****
Environmental Politics is a peer-reviewed journal published five-times a year.
The following is an abstract of a review I'm writing in relation to this article:
Associate Professor George Gonzalez from the Department of Political Science at the University of Miami draws on Marxist ideology to argue that excessive petrol consumption in the US and the “…unabated emission of anthropogenic climate change gasses” are directly linked to the “…pro-urban sprawl policies of the US government [which] have been consistent with the interests and, seemingly, the policy preferences of economic elites and producer groups.” (Gonzalez 2006: 527). More simply, Gonzalez believes that the vehicle manufacturers, the petroleum producers and the sub-urban property developers have all colluded in an effort to drive the planning policies of the US government towards an unending state of urban sprawl. He bases his argument on “…Marx’s contention that within capitalism economic demand is shaped to maximise the realisation of profit” and that the “…history of urban sprawl policies, leading to increased consumer durables consumption” is consistent with this ideal (ibid).
It's a ripper article HC, I read it when it first came out but it was great to go through it again. Thanks for posting it.
Nah, I've never lived in Melbourne Floot, I hate cities except for a very occasional visit...even then I'm desperate to get out of there before the end of it. :lol:
Makes sense for a premium to be placed on properties near the tram lines...I'm sure it's a much better way to commute than in a car in terms of time spent and cost...plus you can read on the way!
One image of Adelaide that always sticks in my mind is catching the train in the morning and seeing sets of four blokes in suits, sitting two by two opposite each other, with their enormous unwieldy broadsheet newspapers all kind of supporting each other... :lol:
That seems like a very intriguing article Mark...I have PM'd you for a copy, thanks for the offer.
As far as I know there are quite a few cities (outside Australia) which built new tram systems, even if they were ripped out before. Strassbourg for example and Ulm. In Brisbane they're buiding more and more streets Tunnels and Bypasses - simply horrible!
If you get a chance to go to the Sydney Tram Museum, https://www.sydneytramwaymuseum.com.au/ - you'll learn a lot about what happened to the trams in (most of) Australia's major cities. For instance, after Sydney's trams were hurriedly taken out of service, Melbourne wanted to buy a large number of them to expand their fleet, but they were dumped in a paddock and burnt instead.
I don't have much to go on, but I can't help thinking that the same constuction companies that cleaned up on highway construction in the U.S on the back of the NCL affair are now making a killing in the spec-building of prisons, thus helping to make Americans the most imprisoned people on earth. I did a little searching and found the following:
Separate names with a comma.