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Mass Motorization and Mass Transit

An American History and Policy Analysis

David W. Jones

Publication Year: 2008

Mass Motorization and Mass Transit examines how the United States became the world's most thoroughly motorized nation and why mass transit has been more displaced in the United States than in any other advanced industrial nation. The book's historical and international perspective provides a uniquely effective framework for understanding both the intensity of U.S. motorization and the difficulties the country will face in moderating its demands on the world's oil supply and reducing the CO2 emissions generated by motor vehicles. No other book offers as comprehensive a history of mass transit, mass motorization, highway development, and suburbanization or provides as penetrating an analysis of the historical differences between motorization in the United States and that of other advanced industrial nations.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ii-v


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pp. vi-vii

List of Tables

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pp. ix-x

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi

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pp. xiii

The inspiration for this book came from an oral history interview with Dick Zettel, my predecessor at the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Berkeley. In turn, my ability to track down data and documents essential for writing a history that spans some 130 years of transportation history hinged on the transit and highway archives at the ITS Library at Berkeley. I am deeply indebted to...

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Part 1 U.S. Motorization in International Context

Mass Motorization and Mass Transit is a history of America's streetcar and freeway eras. It begins with a focus on transit in the 1880s and 1890s, when New York, Boston, and Philadelphia were the world's premiere transit markets. It ends with an appraisal of the search for new automotive technologies and fuels that can sustain personal mobility without generating an excessive volume of...

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1. Motorization in the United States and Other Industrial Nations

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pp. 3-27

More than any other nation, the United States relies on cars and trucks for mass transportation. Describing cars and trucks as "mass transportation" may sound like a contradiction in terms, but it is a functionally accurate description of the outcome of mass motorization. Personally owned vehicles have become America's primary form of mass transportation...

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Part 2 U.S. Motorization in Historical Context

Part 1 closed with the observation that the future sustainability of global motorization is likely to hinge on the development of economical alternatives to the internal combustion engine and petroleum-based fuels, supplemented by efforts to increase transit's market share in those settings where it can provide service both effectively and efficiently. Part 2 will focus on how much the United...

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2. Transit's American History, 1880-1929

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pp. 31-56

To understand the decline of the U.S. transit industry, we must describe the circumstances that made streetcar development a promising private investment in the 1880s and 1890s. We must also convey the deterioration in the streetcar industry's financial position that had occurred before World War I and how...

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3. The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Pivotal Epoch in U.S. Transportation History

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pp. 57-94

The Great Depression was the most damaging recession in the world's modern economic history. The stock market crash of 1929 signaled the onset of the Depression in the United States, but its underlying causes were rooted in the impact of World War I on the global economy. Unemployment and economic hardships were the Depression's most significant initial effects. Its most significant...

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4. World War II and Its Immediate Aftermath: The End of the Streetcar Era and the Beginnings of the Freeway Era

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pp. 95-107

The years during and immediately after World War II marked the end of the streetcar era and the beginning of the freeway era. For the transit industry, World War II was a period of extraordinary ambivalence. Transit carried its highest passenger volumes during the war (1941-45). Patronage reached these high levels because transit carried servicemen in large numbers and because auto...

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5. The Interstate and Pervasive Motorization, 1956-80

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pp. 108-136

In 1956, Congress authorized full funding of the interstate highway program. Over the next 24 years, state highway departments built 12,377 miles of freeway in U.S. cities and metropolitan areas.1 In 1958, the United States crossed the threshold of mass motorization. In 1980, the United States became the first nation to boast pervasive motorization. The United States' aggressive commitment...

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6. Transit's Conversion to Public Ownership

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pp. 137-171

Transit's conversion to public ownership occurred in the context of profound changes in the growth trends, spatial arrangements, racial composition, and economic prospects of American cities. In many of the nation's most populous and most transit-oriented cities, these changes included decline in the central city's white population, rapid growth of the central city's black population...

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7. U.S. Motorization since the OPEC Embargo

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pp. 172-188

The OPEC oil embargo of 1973 and the Iranian revolution of 1979 were hinge events in the history of U.S. motorization, events that rocked the industrial world and the global economy. Higher oil prices and uncertain oil supplies affected motorists, truckers, transit operators, the fuel tax revenues of the state highway programs, and the sales and production volumes of the world's automakers...

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8. The Competitive Difficulties of the U.S. Automakers

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pp. 189-198

In the wake of the gasoline price surge of 2004-2007, the American automobile industry has experienced financial difficulties strikingly similar to those experienced by street railways following World War I. The automakers' recent revenues have been insufficient to support the cost structures created during the golden days when they dominated the U.S. market and enjoyed much larger...

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Part 3 Evolving Challenges in an Evolved Environment

Since the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, the Soviet Union has collapsed, and the European Union has displaced NATO as the entity that speaks for many of Europe's shared concerns. The United States remains the world's wealthiest nation and is now its sole superpower, but it seems to be losing its standing as a good neighbor. Today we are...

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9. The Changing Valance of U.S. Motorization

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pp. 201-207

For decades, global leadership in motor vehicle manufacturing, petroleum refining, automobile ownership, and highway improvement was a largely unalloyed advantage for the United States. The U.S. automobile industry was the world leader in value added by manufacturing; U.S. oil companies dominated global oil exploration and accounted for more than half of all oil production as...

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10. The Road to Sustainable Motorization

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pp. 208-220

The litany of complaints about the intensity of American motorization typically includes the automobile's contribution to global warming and metropolitan air pollution, its dependence on imported petroleum, and its adverse impact on America's international trade deficit-along with stubbornly high accident and fatality rates, metropolitan congestion, and suburban sprawl. More...

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11. Motorization and Sustainability:History and Prospect

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pp. 221-235

This book began with the observation that the United States relies on cars and trucks for mass transportation. In the pages that followed, we have shown how and why the United States became the world's most pervasively motorized nation and how and why mass transit has been marginalized in U.S. metropolitan areas. Many planners and urbanists believe that the marginalization of mass transit...


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pp. 237


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pp. 239-255


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pp. 257-264


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pp. 265-268

E-ISBN-13: 9780253000316
E-ISBN-10: 0253000319
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253351524

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 2 b&w illus., 1 map
Publication Year: 2008