off, let me make it clear: the TCRT tunnels were not
primitive subway tunnels. They never carried passengers.
These tunnels carried power lines for the electric streetcar
system, which ran on the surface.
City Rapid Transit began electric streetcar operations
in 1889, replacing their fleet of horse-drawn streetcars.
The electric street cars were quite popular for a few
decades, since they had many advantages over a horse
and buggy. At its peak, the TCRT ran 444 route-miles
with a 1,000-car fleet. It linked the Minneapolis and
St. Paul central business districts with residential,
employment, and recreational areas covering approximately
800 square miles. TCRT designed and built all but 141
of its streetcars. It bought and operated various parks
to get people to use the lines beyond working hours,
and, for awhile, everything was peachy.
locally owned from its inception, was bought by an outside
investment firm in 1949. The new management immediately
began to retire the streetcars, and had completely replaced
them with GM buses by 1954. This followed a disturbing
in the 1920's, General Motors executives -- placing
their profit motives ahead of the public interest --
masterminded the purchase and destruction of the nation's
trolley companies. Tracks were taken up, destroying
a mass transit infrastructure that would cost billions
to replace. Trolley cars were torched and replaced with
GM-manufactured diesel-fueled buses. Some citizens fought
to keep their streetcar systems, but to no avail. The
citizens of Los Angeles and Minneapolis/St. Paul, for
example, wanted to keep their beloved car trolleys,
but before long, the GM-controlled trolley company had
switched to buses, dramatically increasing pollution
in Los Angeles.
1946, National City Lines, a bus company funded and
controlled by GM, Standard Oil, and the Firestone tire
company, operated public transit in over 80 cities.
The ascendancy of the car was soon to follow. Minneapolis'
streetcars are still being used to this day --- in Mexico
City. This "American Streetcar Scandal" led
to an investigation by the FBI and several anti-trust
indictments, but the damage was already done.
the Twin Cities, like several dozen other metropolises
around the country, are spending hundreds of millions
of dollars in order to, essentially, recreate the lost
streetcar lines by building a light-rail transportation
infrastructure from the ground up. Lovely!