The Taxicab: An Urban Transportation Survivor

By Gorman Gilbert; Robert E. Samuels | Go to book overview

6
WAR AND RECOVERY

World War II occurred as the United States was trying to overcome the ravages of the Depression. The productive capacities of factories, which had been vastly underutilized during the Depression, were suddenly taxed to the limit. Unemployment, rampant during the Depression, practically vanished; by 1940 unemployment had only declined to 14.6 percent, but just three years later it was 1.9 percent. Factories that had once produced civilian consumer items were switched to war production, and materials such as rubber and gasoline were rationed for the civilian consumer. Real income during the war years also increased; between 1940 and 1943 real income grew by 57.8 percent.

The effect of these changes on the urban transit industry was dramatic. Transit ridership, which had peaked in 1926, had fallen by 21.5 percent from 1930 to 1935. 1 By 1940, it had risen by only 7 percent over the 1935 level, and streetcars had continued to decrease in importance to the point that only 45 percent of transit passengers were served by them. Overall, the transit industry was experiencing over-capacity and economic decline.

The war reversed those conditions. Factories switched to twentyfour hour shifts and six-day weeks. High employment in a time of gas rationing sent people back to the urban transit systems. From 1940 to 1943 ridership grew by 168 percent, even though employment within the transit industry grew by less than 20 percent. Nighttime, or "owl," transit service burgeoned to accommodate the increase in night-shift workers. In some cities six-day work weeks and Saturday shopping combined to make that traditional off day the peak day for transit ridership. Equipment and employees were hard-pressed to serve this soaring demand for transit rides. New transit vehicles were available

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The Taxicab: An Urban Transportation Survivor
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • TABLES AND FIGURES ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Myths, Misconceptions, and Neglect 3
  • 2 - European Ancestors of the Taxicab 8
  • 3 - The Development of the Taxicab 25
  • 4 - The Birth of Taxicab Fleets 38
  • 5 - The Depression and Regulation 61
  • 6 - War and Recovery 74
  • 7 - Federal Involvement 86
  • 8 - The Economics of Taxicab Operations 103
  • 9 - Service Innovations 123
  • 10 - Regulation and Deregulation 141
  • 11 - Dimensions of Change 156
  • 12 - The Survival of Private Enterprise in Public Transportation 170
  • Notes 181
  • Bibliography 187
  • Index 191
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