Management & Operations

METRO Magazine Picks New York Subway to Head List of Top 15 Events of the Century in U.S.

Posted on December 31, 1999

METRO Magazine, covering transit since 1904, reveals the top U.S. events of the 20th century in its January 2000 issue. Analysis of each of these events and their importance to the industry will appear in the January 2000 issue. The events are: 1. New York City subway (1904) shows the world Americans can build heavy metro projects, too. 2. Urban Mass Transit Administration opens its doors for business (1964), begins new era in federal transit assistance and policy. 3. Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (1991) is passed, which helps level the playing field between transit and highway planning and declares an end to the "interstate era." 4. Fageol Safety Coach (1922), first purpose-built motor bus in widespread use in American cities. 5. Streetcar divestiture (1930-65), which ended a form of cross-subsidy that then-private transit companies depended on. 6. Greyhound Lines (1929), the first nationwide bus carrier. 7. Diesel bus engines (1932), leading to more reliable and cost-effective transit. 8. Clean Air Act (1971), which, with subsequent amendments, both boosted transit’s chances and saddled it with more expensive buses. 9. Private enterprise builds transit, once the primary means of new infrastructure and now making a comeback via turnkey, joint development and other techniques. 10. Height of transit use (1940-46), mainly induced by World War II and early post-war economic boom period. 11. Semiconductors (1970s to present), improving everything from vehicle tracking to propulsion. 12. Arab oil embargoes (1973 and 1979), which forced federal policy-makers to re-think transit’s role in the national economy. 13. Americans With Disabilities Act (1990), which boosted transit’s appeal as well as gave it greater regulatory burdens in the same way as the Clean Air Act. 14. San Diego Trolley (1980), which showed Americans that cost-effective LRT could work in American cities again. 15. Last run of a horse-drawn streetcar (1916), confirming the dominance of motorized transit. Next week we’ll reveal METRO’s predictions of events that will shape the 21st Century. Happy New Year/Century/Millennium!

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