In article , firstname.lastname@example.org says:
In places spread far, I can understand that. Here in RI the Transit 2020 report says we MUST use light rail between the cities since the highways can no longer support the volume of traffic that would be necessary.
Interestingly I never knew there was so much rail freight until we moved into our new offices. Huge P&W freighters carrying lumber, oil, etc. go through several times a day.
Private companies indeed. RI had trackless trolleys run on overhead catenary for years. That all changed in the period from 1948 to 1954. All the trolleys were replaced with buses. Even today, the in-town trolleys are CNG vehicles.
All the buses were owned by the Universal Transit Company or UTC. By the early 60's UTC was in such poor shape that the state created a quasi government agency called the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority to take over operations of the failing UTC.
RIPTA flailed about for nearly 40 years until they finally got a general manager that understood what quality meant. All the vehicles are fairly new, oldest dating to 1998. And those will be phased out shortly.
But the system is overburdened and underfunded. They say RI is unique since none of the cities and towns that RIPTA serves pay for the service. Instead it's funded from the gasoline tax. And the cities and towns couldn't pay anyhow when school budgets eat up 90-95% of their budgets.[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Here is a trick question for you ... CTA at one point hauled freight as well as passengers; true or false?
TRUE ... it happened like this: When North Shore Railroad was operating toward the end of its life, the railroad had ONE freight customer, whose name was 'The Lill Coal Company'. Lill's office was on Broadway, about a block north of Montrose Avenue. (For you young'uns, people used to heat their houses with coal in coal burners. Gradually, we dropped coal and went (first) to oil (then later) to gas. And just as gradually, businesses like Lill, which supplied coal to individuals, schools, companies, whoever had to go out of business. But for the two year interim between North Shore RR going out business folllowed by Lill Coal Company going out of business, Lill was quite frantic. *How* would their coal supply be delivered to them for their customers?
Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) had the answer: if any railroad chooses to go out of business, other railroads using the same tracks will take up the slack; it is *illegal* to simply abandon the freight customers; someone better haul that freight. In this instance, the 'other railroad using the same tracks' happened to be Chicago Transit Authority. So for about two years, following the demise of North Shore Line, CTA had to haul their coal for them from the coal mine up in Wisconsin somewhere down to Chicago. CTA had a freight engine (actually a diesel engine) and two or three coal cars which they inherited or bought from North Shore. And, about twice each week, that freight train, plainly marked CTA on its side, pulled in off the main track there to a siding and dumped out that coal.
Did CTA ever operate chartered 'funeral cars'? Again, true. About two blocks south of Lill Coal Company is the Graceland Cemetery, a very big place (it occupies four or five square miles in the heart of Chicago's northwest side, and even rates a telephone exchange named after it [GRAceland 312/773-472].) Many big wigs are buried there with huge monuments, etc. It also rates its own railroad siding, which was used in the 1920-40's to bring recently deceased big wigs for burial. All the bereaved family members and friends would ride along in the Chicago Rapid Transit street car made up like a funeral car to the cemetery. Family and friends came from Milwaukee all the way to south side Chicago for the funerals. Either North Shore or Chicago Rapid Transit would bring them there. This was Charles Insull's idea. And the chartered street cars would pull in almost daily for someone's funeral. When Chicago Rapid Transit went out of business (or actually, merged into CTA), Graceland asked the same sort of questions as Lill Coal would ask several years later when North Shore went poof! *Who is going to haul _our_ 'freight' to the ceremonies, etc. CTA agreed out of customer good will to continue handling the cemetery business for about a year in 1947-48, then stopped doing it. But the tracks are still there, all rusted and full of weeds right behind the cemetery where the one sidetrack slopes down to ground level and runs along for about a block. PAT]