mailto:firstname.lastname@example.orgMore transportation articles by David Lawyer
Unfortunately, there are just no good books on the history of transportation during the 20th century. For the part of the 19th century there's the excellent book: "The Transportation Revolution, 1815-1860" published in 1952 but unfortunately, we have nothing that compares with this book for the 20th century. Public knowledge of transportation and its history is very important since it is the basis for formulating government transportation policy. Not only do government officials and elected representatives need to know about this, but so does the public that elects them (directly or indirectly). Unfortunately, most all of the books on transportation today are popular works that don't adequately cover the broad subject of transportation. And many of the books are biased and inaccurate.
Possibly the best books on transportation in the 20th century were several books on transportation economics which were used as textbooks for college courses on that subject. Unfortunately, most of these books are outdated and failed to cover the environmental, energy, and technology aspects of transportation which are important today. They often ran thru a number of editions. Many of these books began as textbooks on railways and then changed their titles to transportation, as highway transportation became more significant. For example: D. Philip Locklin's 1928 book: "Railroad Regulation Since 1920" became "Economics of Transportation" going thru 7 editions from the 1st in 1935 to the last in 1972. Sydney L. Miller's book "Railway Transportation, Principles and Point of View" of 1924 became "Inland Transportation, Principles and Policies" in 1933.
These textbooks are fairly well written often with a great deal of meticulous research put into them as contrasted with most of the popular literature on on transportation. The earlier textbooks tended to emphasize railroads and freight transportation as opposed to passengers. Much of of the contents of these books cover the history and issues of transportation regulation, especially the regulation of railroads.. Since transportation was mostly deregulated by the federal government during the 1980's, there isn't much interest in the regulation issues today although the issues involved would be important if transportation is to be significantly re-regulated.
As the transportation professors who used these textbooks (some were authors of them) retired or died, they were usually not replaced with younger professors in transportation economics. Their former college courses in transportation were discontinued. Not only did the emergence of updated editions cease, but new books of the same type were no longer written or printed. While some of the newer professors of transportation did publish books, they tended to be on specialized topics in transportation theory and ignored the general history of transportation.
Today in the USA, almost all motorizd passenger transportation is by automobile and airplane (only roughly 1% is by rail and 2% by bus). Passenger-Miles. But at the start of the 20th century in 1900, almost all motorized travel was by railroad (including electric streetcars and light rail). Railroad travel then was about 1000 times greater than automobile travel in the primiitive autos of that era. See Pass-miles in 1900. The existing transportation system uses about 40 times as much fuel energy as it did in 1900. Thus it's making a much larger impact on global warming and depletion of non-renewable fuels. See Fuel Efficiency of Travel in 20th Century
The major reason for this tremendous increase in energy use during the 20th century is that each person now travels about 50 times as much by auto and airplane combined as they did by railroad in 1900. Also there are about 4 times as many people resulting in about 200 times (4x50) more travel.
If there is 200 times more travel today, why hasn't energy use for travel gone up 200 times? It's only gone up 40 times because our modern automobiles and airplanes are about 5 times more energy efficient than the old inefficient steam railroads and electric streetcars of 1900. The electric streetcars in 1900 were inefficient since it took about 8 times as much fuel then to generate a kilowatt-hour of electricity as it does today. See heat rate.
In what ways was the old system better (or worse) than the present system? Is railroad transportation more efficient? What about the bicycle? This article will present a brief history of transportation in the USA during the 20th century and give the reader a better basis to evaluate what has happened, why it happened, and should it have happened.
What was the United States (U.S.) like when practically all motorized travel was by railroad? There was also a significant amount of highway travel too, using animate power (humans and animals). There were no airplanes and almost no automobiles? How was it working without automobiles which have become almost necessities today?
This nation in 1900 of 76 million people was the most industrialized nation in the world linked together by a network of nearly 200,000 miles of steam railroad with an additional 14,000 miles of electric railways, consisting of both streetcar and light-rail lines. See Steam Railroad Mileage and Electric Railway Mileage.
But there was also an extensive system of mostly dirt roads totalling about 2 million miles, about 10 times the length of the railroads. See roads1900 name="The Roads in 1900">. The traffic density on these roads was, on average, much less than on the railroads, but since the road system was much longer, there may have been roughly as much travel on the roads as on the railroads. On roads people walked and sometimes rode on bicycles and horses. Horses, mules, and sometimes oxen pulled a wide variety of vehicles carrying people and/or freight.
There was no radio, television, computers, or internet but communication took place by the printed, written, and spoken word sometimes using the telegraph and the newer telephone for rapid transmission of information. The telegraph was often the only way to communicate rapidly over long distances due to lack of electronics to amplify voice over long telephone lines. Since long distance telegrams and telephone use was very expensive, usually only the most important information got transmitted fast. Photography (black and white) also communicated events.
While most of the population was still rural, three of the largest cities had populations of over a million, including New York City with 3.4 million people. The West was rapidly growing with San Francisco reaching a population of over 1/3 million persons.
Before going into the important details of what happened and why, let's go over a summary of transportation developments in the 20th century.
In 1900, at the start of the 20th century, motorized land transportation of people was almost entirely by railroad. The U.S. then had an extensive steam railroad network of almost 200,000 miles with an additional 14,000 miles of electric railways, consisting of both streetcar and light-rail lines in and around urban areas. See Railway track mileage. In cities, many people rode on electric railways but for long distances they used steam railways (=railroads). Where there were no railways, travel was usually by walking, animal power, and in some cases by bicycle.
But strange as it may seem, the railroads were not used much. Railroad travel (including streetcars) was only about 340 miles/year for each citizen. That's only about a mile per day for each person. Today each person travels about 16,000 miles on average, about 50 times as much and most of this is by auto and airplane. The reason for such low usage in 1900 is that fares were relatively high and rail travel then was often slow, inconvenient and sometimes uncomfortable. There were some fast luxurious trains but most were not. Although rails linked the nation, there were a large number of different railroad companies and there was no one train that ran across the nation between the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts.
Average speeds on steam railroads were slow by todays standards, averaging about 25 mi/hr. See Speed Through trains were faster (up to 40 mi/hr) since they made fewer stops. But local trains plodded along at 15 to 20 mi/hr due to frequent stops. Trains had no air-conditioning. While some trains had steam heat, others used coal or charcoal stoves. It was often too hot if one sat near the stove and too cold if one sat far away from it. Open windows would help keep the train cool in the summer, but they also sometimes took in smoke from the steam engine's smokestack. Some trains had no restrooms and some restrooms consisted of little more than a hole in the floor. Some trains made stops so that people could eat meals (and possibly use the restrooms). This further delayed the trip. While some trains had electric lighting, others had lanterns that were too dim for easy reading at night.
For long distance travel there were nice but expensive Pullman sleeper cars to ride in (and sleep in). Thus a train trip could be a pleasant experience or an ordeal. Sometime it was both, having it's pleasant and unpleasant moments.
From the prospective of 1900 however, trains were not considered costly, slow and inconvenient. In fact they were so significantly cheaper and faster than the stagecoaches pulled by horses. And they were usually significantly faster than travel by inland canals and rivers.
Thus train travel in 1900 was usually not quite as luxurious and pleasant as the many pictorial books on trains make it appear to be. The most deceptive are artist renderings of train interiors, who not only selected the better trains for drawing, but made them look larger than life.
As compared to steam trains, the electric railroads (mostly streetcars in 1900) were nicer to ride on since they gave off no smoke and had electric lighting and heating.
See Roads in about 1900
In addition to the railroad network, there was a huge highway network of rural roads of about 2 million miles, almost all unpaved. This road system was 10 times the length of the railroad network. By today's standards, it was in pretty miserable condition.
How much of this system was paved depends on how "paved" is defined. The survey of pavements wasn't made until 1904 and it found that about 93% of the roads outside of cities were dirt. The other 7% of the road network was "surfaced" with gravel, stone, sand-clay, etc. These were neither dirt roads nor were they asphalt or concrete highways. Whether or not they should be called "paved" is a matter of opinion. One book calls them "improved".
The surfaced rural roads were sometimes of good quality, built up of multiple layers. A "stone" road could be made with large blocks of crushed stone followed by smaller stones and sand used to fill in the cracks between the larger stones. Larger blocks of stone were sometimes laid by hand, one at a time. Water and stone dust would help weakly bind the stones together resulting in something akin to very low-quality concrete. Sand-clay was simply a clay that contained a lot of sand. The hardened clay formed a pavement of sorts.
So in a sense, some of these roads were "paved" but it wasn't like the smooth durable pavements of today. In 1904, beside dirt, the surfacing of rural roads was (K mi = thousand miles) Gravel: 180 K mi, Stone: 39 K mi Other: 7 K mi (including sand-clay and shells). "Shells" means crushed seashells (such as oyster shells).
While almost all of the rural roads outside cites could be called "unpaved", many cities had at least some paved streets. An 1897 survey of cities over 10,000 population only got responses from 1/3 of them. Of these, about 1/3 ? had only dirt roads. For the ones that responded to the survey, the total length of pavement in miles was: Asphalt 1,365, Granite (rock) 1151, Wood 729, Brick 705, Sandstone and Traprock 547.
Roads were commonly used for access to railroads, and for access to towns by farmers. Such roads were better maintained than the long stretches of roads which had lost most of their traffic to the railroads and thus had become more or less redundant after railroads were built.
Thus, unlike the railroad that had to build an expensive railroad way with steel rails, autos and bicycles appeared on the scene with a huge existing road network just waiting for them to run on. Except that most of it was in poor condition and some of it was at times impassable due to mud, snow, etc. It wasn't fully connected together and there were a number of missing links. At first, there were few road signs, gasoline stations, etc.
The golden age of bicycling was during the 1890's. Then, like today, they were mainly used for recreation. But they dropped in price by 1900 so that a worker earning $500 per year could perhaps afford a $50 bicycle. In 1900, they were likely used relatively more for practical transportation than today. The bicycles of that era had difficulty coping with the mud and snow of the prevailing dirt roads.
Bicycles then were only single speed. Thus for steep hills, mud, or sand, one would have to get off and push the bicycle. Brakes were poor by today's standards. The "spoon brake" consisted of a metal brake shoe that looked something like a spoon and pressed on the rubber tire tread. But many bicycles had no brakes as such. Since the pedals rotated all the time (there was no freewheeling) one could slow down by attempting to pump backwards (like a child's tricycle). Thus if there was an obstacle on the road (like a rock) a pedal might hit it since one couldn't just move the pedal up (and coast) to avoid the rock. But if one took their feet off the rotating pedals to coast downhill, they would have trouble trying to put their feet back onto the rapidly rotating pedals to regain control of the bicycle.
Another problem with bicycling was self inflicted. The social tradition (Victorian dress code) did not allowing women to show their legs, even if covered by pants and stockings. Thus men outnumbered women bicyclists by perhaps two to one. The main bicycle organization was aptly named the "League of American Wheelmen". By 1900, it had become acceptable for women to ride bicycles in bloomers (puffed out pants that were about twice the diameter of ones legs at the knees). Only a few dared to ride in regular pants. Prior to 1900, some women had been stopped by police for their "indecent" attire. Thus the social mores in this era were a severe impediment for women cyclists but the situation was improving.
There were hundreds of companies making bicycles in the 1890s and some were large enough to mass produced bicycles. With so many companies making bicycles (and many going out of business near the end of the "golden age" in 1900) spare parts for some bicycles were likely difficult or impossible to obtain.
In 1900 Automobiles were something new. They were handmade and in some cases just a rich man's toy. People either lived near their work or commuted by streetcar or railroad. So few people really needed an expensive auto for getting to work. This was soon to change as autos were destined to come down in price and roads would become much improved in the future.
Early autos were small, lightweight and slow but were several times more fuel-efficient than railroads in terms of passenger miles per gallon (or the equivalent in coal). However, since railroads used coal as a fuel and since petroleum cost several times as much as coal (per unit of heat content, there wasn't any savings in fuel costs by operating an automobile. See Price of fuel in 1900. Actually, since gasoline had to be obtained from petroleum by refining and since there was a markup in price from wholesale to retail, it cost a few times more to fuel an automobile than it did to provide coal (at wholesale prices) for the same amount of passenger transportation by rail.
Of course there were disadvantages of the auto, a major one being enticing people to travel more miles and thus consume more gasoline. The ultimate result would be experienced in the 21st century as oil depletion and global warming. But these considerations were not taken into account by those making decisions on buying an automobile in the early 1900's.
At first, in the early 1900's, it's been said that the auto was a rich man's toy and there is some truth in that assertion. But the auto also had utility as a replacement for horse-drawn carriages in cities. Autos were useful as taxicabs, replacing the ones pulled by horses. Maintaining horses in large cities was expensive. Doctors found autos useful for making house calls. So the early autos did often have transportation uses other than recreational. See Attraction of the Automobile
Besides usually being faster, the auto could go places where there were no railroads or streetcars. People could drive to rivers, lakes, mountains, hills, etc. and escape the smells, smoke, and bustle, of the city. In bad weather, an auto (except for early models) would protect one from rain and snow (provided the auto didn't get stuck in the mud or snow).
Time and Schedules covers the inconvenience of schedules on public transportation.
The choice of how to travel on a certain trip would often depend on whether or not one owned an automobile. If one didn't own an auto, there wasn't much choice unless one considered renting an auto or even buying one.
The advantages of the auto in urban use increased over time as automobiles improved, roads became better, and speed limits were raised. At first, autos were often restricted by city speed limits to 6-10 mi/hr or so. While streetcars often went faster, a streetcar trip would often be slower due to access and waiting time.
Another advantage of the auto as compared to streetcars and railroads was that one could readily take a lot of things (or people) with them. People driving autos could transport tools of their trade with them such as a plumber or painter transporting pipes or paints, etc. in a small truck or an auto. Campers on vacation could take all their camping gear with them. Similarly for picnickers.
Simply stated, an auto (as compared to public transportation) can go anywhere anytime (well almost anywhere --some locations have no road access and one can't drive an auto across oceans and lakes). With public transportation, one can only go between the fixed points served by transit at times determined by schedules.
The auto (except for early "open air" models) also offered a certain amount of privacy as compared to public transportation. People could converse better as compared to a bicycle. This privacy was convenient for dating couples although some thought that such privacy contributed to what they viewed as immoral behavior (in parked autos).
There were also frivolous advantages such as impressing ones neighbors and friends with a new model automobile, especially in situations where the people who saw your auto didn't own an auto or had outmoded models.
The early auto provided a convenient means of of access to steam railroad stations and (except for short trips) at first helped train travel grow. For longer trips, the train was preferred (if a railroad went there) since the roads were so bad and the early autos unreliable and exposed passengers to rain and snow. But for short trips the auto did compete with the train.
To illustrate this, consider an example trip of 20 miles between two small towns connected by rail taken around 1910. Since the roads are bad, your car is not brand new, and towns have low speed limits you can only average 10 mi/hr by auto. Thus the auto trip takes 2 hours. The same journey via railroad will involve taking a slow local train which makes 20 mi/hr so the trip seeming only takes an hour by rail (half as long as by auto). But you need to get to the rail station early to buy a ticket and the sum of the access time to get from your home to the train stop plus the time taken from the destination rail station to your final destination might total an hour. Thus the door-to-door rail trip time is the same as the auto. Which would you choose to take, rail or auto?
Under the conditions stated, most would choose auto if they had one. With an auto, you have the auto at your disposal to use at your destination. The auto seemingly costs less, especially if one only calculates costs like gasoline, oil, and tires, neglecting depreciation of the auto due to the wear and tear of the trip.
Now let's change the conditions a bit and assume that it's raining heavily. Due to this your auto is likely to get stuck in the mud and you'll have the rain coming down on you unless the auto has a good roof. In this case the auto is likely to take a lot longer than the train and you're likely to get wet or stuck in the mud, so most people will take the train. As a result of situations like this, many local trains were crowded in bad weather but had far fewer riders in good weather. See Miller. This put an unfair burden on the railroad company, but overall, the railroads made a profit on passengers in those days.
This section mainly just presents an overview of what happened. For the details of the competition see: Choice of Autos vs. Rail and The Auto vs. Steam Railroads
In 1900, when there were only 8,000 autos in the U.S., the auto was being born in a nation with over 2 million miles of roads to run on (in the U.S.). At first, the auto was too expensive, slow, and unreliable and rural roads were too poor for it to make a much of an impact. But the technology of the auto improved rapidly in the first decade. Ford pioneered mass production in the teens and other auto manufacturers followed suit, resulting in much lower prices for autos. With better autos and lower prices, auto sales increased even if highway improvements were slow to happen. Auto production doubled about every couple of years after 1900. During it's first 20 years (1900-1920) motor vehicles replaced most of the animal powered transportation.
By 1920, there was one auto for every 11 persons. But a few states like California had one auto for every 6 persons while the South-Eastern states lagged the nation in automobilisation.
But even in 1920, railroad travel (including streetcars) still somewhat exceeded auto travel. In the 1920's, gasoline taxes were instituted and road construction and paving was accelerated, resulting in a decline of railroad travel. By 1930 there was about 6 times as much passenger travel by auto as by railroad and one auto for every 4 1/2 persons. Thus over half of U.S. families owned an auto although most working class families didn't. See Passenger-miles and Facts and Figures of the Automobile Industry
But there was still a place for the railroad in the 1930s. One nitch was for long distance travel between points well served by rail. For trips by auto that involved an overnight stay at a hotel, etc., rail was often faster since it continued travelling all night. A substantial percentage of long-distance rail travellers slept in beds in the sleeping cars of the train. But the sleeping accommodations in trains were not cheap and cost more that staying in most hotels. Another advantage was that one didn't have to make the effort to drive for hours on end. These advantages of trains for long-distance disappeared when airline service expanded in the 1950s and begin to offer lower fares than rail.
In the 1930's, auto travel continued to increase in spite of the great depression while rail travel declined and then partially recovered a little during the last five years of the 1930's. Roads improvements continued at a rapid pace as government spent money on road building during the depression to supposedly provide jobs to the unemployed.
Then came World War II just before the start of 1942 with a halt in auto production and gasoline rationing. Railroad traffic surged while auto travel was curtailed resulting in auto travel being only about double that of rail since gasoline was in short supply due to rationing.
But after the war, many people had lots of savings accumulated during the full employment during the war years and many decided to spend it on buying an auto. Auto production surged, gasoline rationing ended, and no new depression happened, allowing most working class families to obtain an auto (often a used auto). Rail passenger travel went into a sharp decline from which it never recovered. The rapid rise of air transportation after World War II resulted in domestic air travel overtaking rail in 1957, each with 3.5% of the market for intercity travel. Thus the fate of rail was sealed in spite of the government subsidized Amtrak created in 1970 to operate passenger trains. Today rail is mainly used for for commuting to work to the central business districts of large cities where traffic is congested and parking of automobiles is difficult. It's also much used in the Boston-New York-Washington D.C corridor since fair public transportation by subway exists in these cities.
From the first introduction of the automobile, the technology has continuously improved. Most changes didn't happen all at once. New technology might first become available as an extra-cost option on the most expensive modes. Then it might become a standard option on high-priced model and an extra-cost option on lower priced model. Eventually, most all new autos would have this feature. It could take many years for all this to happen. Even when almost all new autos were sold with this feature, it would usually take several years more before most cars on the road had it because it takes time to replace the older cars still on the road with the newer cars.
(Note that the dates in the following section are not very precise and may be corrected later.)
The early automobile, running on bicycle-like tires and not able to go much faster than a bicycle, was much improved during it's first decade. Wider and softer tires were introduced (balloon tires), steering wheels replaced tillers. The acetylene headlamp was introduced which ran on acetylene gas and gave off a bright light to illuminate the road ahead at night. Shock absorbers were introduced to prevent bouncing oscillations of springs. Engines became more powerful so that cars could now go much faster than bicycles.
During the teens, Ford came out with the famous mass-produced Model T in 1913. More cars had better tops to protect one from rain and snow. The self starter, first on the Cadillac in 1911, became popular so that cranking the engine by hand was no longer required. Electric headlights replaced acetylene lamps.
Now almost all new cars were fully protected from the weather and had self-starters and electric headlights.
Car radios became popular so that people could listen to music and news broadcasts while they drove. Automobile shapes changed from box shapes to a more streamlined design.
In 1940, the automobiles transported several times more passengers traffic than the railroads or buses. By the late 1940's most people could afford a family auto and they were fast and comfortable. They had sufficient power and could travel at (or above) the various speed limits. But still more improvements were to come in future years: Better safety, reliability and fuel economy with still more comfort, ease of operation and less pollution.
Early automobiles were highly polluting from the beginning, but the pollution was not as visible as the dung pollution from the horses they replaced. There was some incentive for car makers to improve fuel economy by simply avoiding using overly rich mixtures of gasoline and air. The result was better carburetors and less unburned fuel.
However, the pollution from automobiles was still very serious and it was the major cause of pollution in many cities. The federal government acted in the 1960's to require that automobiles be less polluting. States sometimes established more rigorous standards. As a result, autos became far less polluting.
The Electric Railways consisted of streetcars which ran on city streets and the electric interurban railways which ran between nearby cities, often partly on their own right-of-way which avoided automobile traffic. The electric railways were expensive to build and maintain since the railroad tracks and electric power system needed to be constructed and kept in good repair. Furthermore, when the tracks in the streets needed repair, the electric railroads also resurfaced the pavement there for free, not charging the cities for this work.
The bicycle had the potential to become a major means of environment-friendly transportation in the United States. Unfortunately, it never happen. The bicycle was relegated to become a vehicle used primarily for recreation (exercise) and for juvenile transportation. Today in the 21st century U.S., over half of bicycle use is for recreational riding (including exercise). Only about 1/2 percent of workers use it to get to work.
There were times during the 20th century when the bicycle was used somewhat more: 1. The early period from 1900 to 1915 when many couldn't afford autos. 2. World War I 3. The later years of the great depression (1935-1940) 4. World War II. Just what percentage of passenger transportation they provided during these periods is unknown but one can assert that railroad and/or automobile transportation greatly exceeded that of the bicycle during these 4 periods. That's partly due to the fact that long distance travel by bicycle is much slower than by rail/auto. Thus the potential for utility bicycle use was mainly for urban transportation, including transportation in small towns.
This was the time when most people couldn't afford automobiles and it would seem to be an ideal opportunity to introduce bicycle transport to the multitudes that couldn't afford autos. But it didn't happen. There were many reasons for this.
One was that by 1900 most all streetcar lines had been speeded up by converting from horse power to electric power. It was a time of intense construction of electric streetcar and interurban lines which competed with the bicycle. The increasing number of automobiles on the streets presented a hazard for bicycles, especially since the autos of that era were highly polluting. Highways were often narrow with limited room for bicycles. Even streetcar tracks could be a hazard if the bicycle wheel got caught in the groove.
Office workers and store clerks were expected to dress well and riding on a bicycle to work might mess up their clothes due to wrinkling, sweat, and possibly rain/snow. With the Victorian dress codes pretty much intact, this problem was especially severe for women who might perhaps be fired if they dared showed up for work in bloomers or pants after riding a bicycle.
With up to 25% of the workforce unemployed, some people were able to save on transportation expenses by bicycling. Bicycle production began to increase in the later half of the 1930's but some of this increase was likely due to increased usage by juveniles.
During World War II from 1942 to 1945, bicycle travel increased. But by how much? We do know that railroad travel shot up 4 fold. See trans_in_Am . Before the war there was about 12 times as much intercity auto travel as intercity rail travel. But during the war, auto travel was still double that of rail. See trans_in_Am . The main reason for less auto travel was gasoline rationing but a lessor reason was that new cars were not being made since the auto industry factories shifted to production of military equipment.
Did bicycle travel also increase 4 fold? The author remembers those years as a boy and traffic on the streets was mostly all autos. Why? Well, anyone can ride the train but only a minority could ride a bicycle because they didn't own a bike. Gasoline rationing allocated most people enough gas to get to work and go shopping, but didn't provide enough for much vacation travel. So people that wanted to travel on vacation tended to take the train and/or bus. The bicycle wasn't usually a candidate since it wasn't generally suitable for long vacation trips. Why didn't people just go out and buy bicycles? Because the government restricted production to a half million per year.
During the 20th century, the United States replaced an inefficient railroad transportation system with a 5-times more efficient but far less sustainable automobile and airplane transportation system. It happened not because of any conspiracy to get rid of rail travel but because it was cheaper and fastest to travel by auto and air in spite of the dire environmental impacts resulting in part from Jevon's Law: increase efficiency and consumption will increase.
Due to a 4-fold population increase and a 50-fold increase in travel per person, fuel consumption has gone up only 40 times since 1900 (since we are 5 times more efficient). This is not sustainable since we just don't have the resources to produce renewable fuels nor do we know how to calculate the energy required to produce renewable fuels. For example, we don't know how to account for the human energy used to make renewable fuels. See Human Energy Accounting.
Thus the problem today is not that we don't travel much by rail (since rail travel is roughly no more energy efficient than auto travel), but that there are just too many people with each person travelling far too much. Even if a person doesn't want to travel much, the locational configuration of our society (which was engendered by the automobile and and the airplane) forces them to do so. For example, there may be no reasonable priced rental residences within walking distance of where one works. And if there were, would shopping be also within walking distance? See Travel Less
For city populations see: Table 13: City Population 1900. This is from "Population of the 100 Largest Cities and Other Urban Places in the United States: 1790 TO 1990" by Campbell Gibson, Population Division, U.S. Bureau of the Census Washington, D.C. June 1998. (Population Division Working Paper No. 27). In 1900: New York 3.4 million, Chicago 1.7 million, Philadelphia 1.3 million, San Francisco 343 thousand.
Telegraph: See History of the U.S. Telegraph Industry by Tomas Nonnenmacher (Allegheny College).
See Energy in the Am Economy Table XXIII (p. 545) "Coal: Prices ... 1880-1955. Table XXIV (p. 546) Liquid and Gaseous Fuels: Prices ... 1880-1955. In 1900 coal cost about $1 a ton and crude oil was also about $1 per barrel. Since the heat value of a ton of coal is 4-5 times the heat value of a barrel of oil (42 gallons), then the price ratio for a unit of heat energy is 4-5.
For automobiles, this number is estimated based on the number of autos in 1900: 8,000. See Facts and Figures of the Automobile Industry various years. This data is also reported by Bigham p. 102 and data for different years is reported by Miller p.578.
Assuming each auto provided 3000 passenger-miles, then there was about 24 million passenger-miles by auto in 1900.
To estimate the amount by rail, use the estimate of 10 billion Pass-Mi by electric railways (mostly streetcars) from http://www.lafn.org/~dave/trans/energy/fuel-eff-20th-3.html#elect_rr_travel_1900 and 16 billion Pass-Mi by the Steam Railroads from Passenger Transport in U.S. 1920-1950 Table No.1 (p.3): Steam Railway Revenue Passenger Traffic of the United States, 1900-1940. This table was compiled from annual issues of "Statistics of Railroads in the United States" by the Interstate Commerce Commission (US Gov.). Adding the 10 and 16 billion Pass-Mi results in 26 billion Pass-mi by rail (steam and electric) roughly 1000 times 24 million Pass-mi of estimated automobile travel in 1900.
See Bus Facts. 1935. p.9: chart: "Passenger-miles in United States by Various Means of Transport" (1890-1935). The chart is by H. E. Hale & Co., consulting engineers, 32 Nassau St., N.Y. There appears to be some double counting in this chart since the passenger-miles shown for Pullman Cars were also reported by the ICC for the Steam Railroads as shown in "ICC Graphical Supplement to Monthly Reports, Series 1937 no. 4. Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), 1937. Chart: "Steam Railway Traffic in Relation to Population, Years 1890-1936". Bus Facts was published by NAMBO = National Association of Motor Bus Operators.
1929-1965: See also Bus Facts, 1966 (34th. edition) p. 6 "Intercity Travel in the United States 1929-1965".
See TEDB table "Passenger Travel and Energy Use". In edition 24 it's table 2.11. But there's a serious error in this table that must be corrected. Only half of international air travel by US carriers is counted. Travel on foreign air carriers isn't covered at all. If every country did statistics this way half of all international air travel would be missing from the statistics. So I've tried to correct for this by using the total figure for passenger-miles taken from the table "Summary Statistics for U.S. Domestic and International Certificated Route Air Carriers (Combined Totals)". It's found in Ch. 9 of TEDB
1939-1999 (intercity): Transportation in America, 2000, with historical compendium 1939-1999, 18th edition, by Rosalyn A. Wilson. Eno Transportation Foundation, Inc., Washington D.C., 2001. See table p.14: Domestic Intercity Passenger Miles by Mode.
Transportation, Economic principles and Practices by Emory R. Johnson, et. al. D. Appleton Century, New York, 1940. Ch. 12: Railroad Passenger Service and Charges. p. 165
Inland Transportation, Principles and Policies by Sidney L. Miller. McGraw-Hill, New York, 1933. Ch. 21: Passenger Service and Charges. pp. 349-50: Economies of longer trains favor freight.
Miller-rail Ch. 15: Passenger Service and Charges. pp. 371-2. Local trains used mainly in bad weather.
Stover 1961. pp. 241-2: 100 miles = a day's pay work rule.
The Railroad Situation pp.208-213: Aspects of the Labor Problem.
Railroad Commission See Appendix to vol. 1, pp. 37, 52.
For steam railroads see American Railroads by John F. Stover. University of Chicago Press, 1961, p. 224, table: "Growth and Decline of Railway Mileage in the United States". See also Yearbook of Railroad Facts (annual), Association of American Railroads, Washington, DC., but it neglects early years.
Automobile Age p.137: Case study of Oregon, Illinois, 1900-1930. Due to long layovers at a rail transfer point, a 16-mile trip could take 4 hours by either rail or by horse and buggy. Thus this trip was seldom made.
The passenger train speeds in the following table represent the total train-mile figure for all passenger trains run during the year divided by the total train-hour figure. Likewise for freight trains. The reason for including freight speeds is that one might attempt to use them to estimate the missing passenger speeds from 1920-1936.
Table of Passenger Train and Freight Trains Speeds in miles per hour (United Stated) per ICC (except passenger data prior to 1936 are estimated by multiplying freight speeds by 2.15). Pass Freight Pass Freight Pass Freight Pass Freight Pass Freight 1920 22 10.3 1930 30 13.8 1940 35.8 16.7 1950 37.4 16.8 1960 40.7 19.5 1921 25 11.5 1931 32 14.8 1941 36.1 16.5 1951 37.7 17.0 1961 40.9 19.9 1922 24 11.1 1932 33 15.5 l942 35.7 15.8 1952 38.3 17.6 1962 40.9 20.0 1923 23 10.9 1933 34 15.7 1943 34,7 15.4 1953 39.1 18.2 1963 40.9 20.1 1924 25 11.5 1934 34 15.9 1944 34.8 15.7 1954 39.5 18.7 1964 41.4 20.2 1925 25 11.8 1935 34 16.0 1945 34.7 15.7 1955 39.8 18.6 1965 41.3 20.1 1926 26 11.9 1936 34.0 15.8 1946 35.5 16.0 1956 40.0 18.6 1966 41.3 20.3 1927 26 12.3 1937 34.5 16.1 1947 36.1 16.0 1957 40.2 18.8 1967 41.7 20.3 1928 28 12.9 1938 34.7 16.6 1948 36.7 16.2 1958 40.2 19.2 1968 41.0 20.4 1929 28 13.2 1939 35.4 16.7 1949 37.0 16.9 1959 40.3 19.5 1969 41.0 20.1
ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission) annual
1936: "Passenger Train Performance of Class I Steam Railways in the United States" (Statement M-213). ICC Bureau of Statistics. (first year of publication)
1963: "Passenger Train Performance of Class I Railroads in the United States" (Statement Q-213). ICC: Bureau of Transport Economics and Statistics. (last year of publication)
In all cases "Switching and Terminal Companies Not Included" appears after the title (in smaller print).
The ICC has freight train speeds from 1936-1963 in it's "Freight Train Performance" and from 1920-1935 in its "Freight and Passenger Service Operating Statistics of Class I Steam Roads [Railways] in the United States". "Roads" was replaced the "Railways" during the publication of this series.
Cumulative data (in one publication) is found in: Railroad Transportation, A Statistical Record, 1911-1951 by the Bureau of Railway Economics, Association of American Railroads, Wash. DC, March 1953. See pp. 26-7. But this data requires division to get train-miles per train-hour.
If you think about it (and do the simple math), train-mi/train-hr is just the time weighted average of the speed of each train. If Vi is the speed of the i th train, (i=1, 2, ..., 1,000,000) for say a million trains run during the year, then the time weighted average speed is the sum over i of Ti x Vi divided by the total train-hours (the sum T of the Ti). The weight for each train is thus Ti/T. Thus if one attempts to use the scheduled speed of various trains to estimate average speed, the speeds should be weighted by scheduled time in order to be comparable with the above table.
The train-mi/train-hr is the average speed that an observer riding on every train run during the year would experience. This assumes that the observer is able to ride on many trains at once with the time spent on each train added up (even when the trains are running at the same time).
For passenger trains, the speeds shown include all intermediate stops and also include delays for trains that are late. Thus the scheduled speed should be higher than shown. The increase in speed likely represents the discontinuance of slower speed trains and retention or addition of faster trains.
For freight trains, the lower speed (about half that of passenger trains) reflects the longer period of time it takes to add and remove freight cars from a train at intermediate stops. While passengers can get on and off a train in minutes, it may take hours to add and remove freight cars. Also, freight trains normally had to wait in sidings to allow the faster passenger trains to pass them.
The secular increase in freight train speeds is in part due to the elimination of way trains that picked up many freight cars at intermediate stops. Railroads built more hump yards where trains were made up to run long distances non-stop, thus reducing the time to add/remove cars from trains at intermediate stops. However, sorting of cars in hump yards resulted in delays to cars which are not accounted for by train speeds.
So what is freight car speed? In 1933, the Federal Coordinator of Transportation found it to be only about 5 miles per hour from the time the railroad picks it up from the sender's siding until the time it's delivered to the siding of the receiver.
See "The Transportation Revolution" (Vol. IV: The Economic History of the United States) by George Rogers Taylor. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1951. p.144. He says that "Early speeds of 10 to 15 miles and hour were about doubled, so that by 1860 a speed of 20 miles was not uncommon for the better roads, some averaging 25 to 30 miles an hour." What does this mean for 1860 speeds? From the first phrase, it implies speeds of 20 to 30 mi/hr or about 25 mi/hr on average. But then if the better roads only averaged 20 mi/hr, the worse roads would be less, resulting in an average of below 20 mi/hr. So one might guess that the average speed was about 16 mi/hr in 1860.
See "Passenger Transport in the United States 1920-1950" by Lewis C. Sorrell and Harry A. Wheeler. Railway Business Association, Chicago, 1944. On pp. 2-4 it's stated that the average speed between terminals of "express passenger runs" was 31.5 mi/hr in 1920 as compared to 33 mi/hr in 1916 and that between 1916 and 1920 there was "practically no gain in speed". Thus it seems that the speed of trains increased only about 5% from 1900 to 1920.
But while the speed of express trains (and perhaps the speed of local trains) only increased by 5%, the average speed likely increased much more since more express trains were being added. Between 1900 and 1910 passenger-miles doubled and much of this increase was accommodated by adding more trains. (to-do: need statistics on this)
What was the average speed for 1900? Based on 34 mi/hr for 1936 and 16 mi/hr for 1860 (see above), taking a simple average yields 25 mi/hr for 1900. But by assuming that the passenger train speed was 2.15 times the freight train speed, only 22 mi/hr is obtained for passenger trains in 1920. So for 1900 it might have been only 20 mi/hr instead of 25. Per the "Instruction Guide" by Julie Gamza et. al. Travel Town Museum (City of Los Angeles, Dept. of Recreation and Parks) (no date), p. 38: "Most trains up until 1900, traveled only an average of 15 to 25 miles per hour" (passenger trains implied by context).
Checking timetables might help resolve this issue.
The maximum speed in 1900 (between end terminals) seems to have been about 40 miles per hour. National Railroad Museum - The Golden Age: 1900-1945 states: "In 1900, the fastest trains carried passengers from New York to Chicago in about 24 hours." Since the distance is about 960 miles (per Amtrak timetable), the speed was 40 miles per hour. But in 1902, the time was decreased to 20 hours with the introduction of the crack train, The 20th Century Limited, resulting in a run speed of 48 miles per hour. See "20th Century Limited" by Karl Zimmerman. TLC Publishing (VA) 2002. p.32. See also Passenger rail in the 20th Century by William D. Middleton, Railway Age, December 1999.
The Automobile Age by James J. Flink. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1998:. Sanitation p.136: Horse manure responsible for the spread of diseases in New York City. Flies which fed on manure also spread disease. Dead horses blocked streets.
See Efficiency increases 5 times 1900-2000
Americas Highways p. 50 shows surface of roads in 1904.
History of Public Works Miles of paved city streets in 1897: Asphalt 1,365; Granite 1,151; Wood 729; Brick 705; Sandstone and trap rock 547.
Automobile Age by physicians p.28, 139, 152.
The Automobile Age by James J. Flink. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1998: pp.33-35: 1901 Mercedes: 53 mph, U.S. autos much slower. 1908: engines in front, balloon tires, steering wheels instead of tillers, shock absorbers, lower bodies, higher powered engines, acetylene headlamps.
Attire: Bicycle History pp. 267-271. Women that dared wear shorts, pants or bloomers for bicycle riding were sometimes stopped by police (pp. 268-271). Bloomers were a compromise between a skirt and pants. They were medium length, loose, puffy pants that extended down to somewhere below the knee (something like knickers). Long socks were worn to conceal the bare skin of the lower leg. The bloomers made ones legs (at the knees) appear to be about twice their actual diameter. But bloomers were short enough to prevent them from being caught by the bicycle chain or pedals. Most of the photos from that era show most women riding woman's bicycles in long, ankle length dresses and not in bloomers. See Rational Dress Reform, Victorian Bloomers and Cycling Costumes
Don't confuse this meaning of "bloomer" with the other meaning: less puffy woman's underwear of similar design. That's the meaning of "bloomer" in the song "All Er Nothing" from the musical "Oklahoma". Some bloomers could be used as either underwear or outer-wear so that a woman wearing them under her skirt could just remove her skirt and go bicycle riding. It seems that seeing a woman wearing pants then, was significantly more shocking than that of seeing a man wearing a skirt today.
Women that tried to ride with long skirts were in some danger of the skirt being caught in the pedals or chain with the possibility of a resulting accident. By the mid 1890's a new dress code (unwritten) was established for women cyclists that allowed them to wear bloomers or shorter skirts (but not pants or shorts). See "Bicycle, the history" p.298.
Women were 1/3 of market for bicycles in 1890's: Bicycle History p. 266.
Class: Bicycle History pp. 272-5.
No freewheel: Bicycle History p.
Gears: Bicycle History p. 297, 313-5, 361 (in 1930s, gears a rarity)
Coaster brake 1899: Bicycle History pp. 297, 310
Braking by backpedaling: Bicycle History p. 262 (inc. spoon brakes), p. 310
See interview with the author of Bicycle: The History "And in the early twentieth century, when cars were still prohibitively expensive, millions of working-class people relied on the bicycle for everyday transportation." This doesn't seem to be in the book and may be an exaggeration. It should appear in Ch. 13: Utilitarian Cycling
Good Roads Magazine, Jan. 1902: "Riders are using bicycles for utilitarian purposes almost altogether. For the most part, the cycler is going to and from his business or is on an errand"
Bicycle History p. 317: 1909, US
production under 1/4 million: (Auto production 181k in 1910:
Miller p. 578)
Bicycle History p.325, top: 1921, US production again under 1/4 million
Bicycle History p.325, middle: 1921, Cycle Trades of America shifted its focus back to the juvenile market.
Bicycle History p.327: During the great depression, bicycles made somewhat of a comeback but children's bicycles were still primary.
Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900, Vol. X, Manufactures, Part IV, Special Reports on Selected Industries, pp. 325-339: "Bicycles and Tricycles" by Axel Josephson.
On p. 325 regarding 1890-1900: "During this decade, taken as a whole, the industry has made extraordinary progress, but the climax was reached about the middle of the period, and since then there has been a decided decline." From p. 329: "The boom of a few years ago has past and in its place has been established a legitimate demand for the bicycle as a means of conveyance." Well, sort of. In 1899, sales were 1.11 million, down from over 2 million in the middle of the decade. So Mr. Josephson may thought that the decline would stabilize there. But it didn't and further declined to 0.23 million bicycles in 1904. So while there was a demand for the bicycle as a means of transportation, such demand was quite low. See the table below.
"Historical Statistics of the United States from Colonial Times to 1970 (Part 2)", U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1975. See pp. 695-6 "Series P231-300, Physical Output of Selected Manufactured Commodities: 1860 to 1970.
Journey to Work: 2000 For both 1990 and 2000, only 0.4% of commute trips were by bicycle (age 16 and over). This is almost a half-million trips. Some postings on the Internet claim a higher figure. However, if one looks at the bicycles share in terms of passenger-miles, it would be well under 0.4% since bicycle trips are usually shorter in distance than motor vehicle trips. Walking was about 4% of commute trips in 1990 and dropped to 3% in 2000. So walking to work is several times more common than bicycling to work. However, considering trips for all purposes, about 1% is by bicycle, but roughly half of these trips are just pleasure rides for exercise. See comment by Peter Gordon from "Transportation Quarterly" 1998, (vol. 52, No. 1) pp. 9-12.
BICYCLES MADE in USA, Millions 1899 1.11 1921 0.22 1931 0.26 1947 2.88 1904 0.23 1923 0.49 1933 0.32 1954 1.75 1909 0.17 1925 0.30 1935 0.66 1958 2.05 1914 0.30 1927 0.26 1937 1.13 1963 3.81 1919 0.47 1929 0.31 1939 1.25 1967 4.87
1910+: Kids ride bikes to school and get jobs as delivery boys
and messengers using them: Bicycle
History pp. 319-20.
1920's: Kids use bikes for getting to school, errands, visiting
1890's boom price was about $100 but in 1897 prices reduced by
1/4 to sell unsold stock Bicycle
History p. 283.
Mid 1890s: Child's bike $50. Bicycle History p.278.
Start of 1899: Dept. stores selling bikes for under $50. Bicycle History p. 290.
1910: Bike reached price of about $25 Bicycle History p.??
It's sometimes said that the automobile allows one to go anywhere anytime. This section shows that "anytime" doesn't apply to most trips by public transportation. The fact that one can't go "anywhere" by public transportation is more obvious, although saying one can go "anywhere" by auto is an exaggeration.
Scheduled public transportation is at a severe disadvantage in many cases, due to the inconvenience of schedules and long access times. Airplanes, trains and buses often have scheduled departure and arrival times which are not the times the traveller would prefer to travel or arrive at the destination. In addition, for public transportation one must expend time for access to the departure terminal (airport, train station, bus stop). There's also the time spent getting from the destination terminal to ones final destination. Some public transportation trips require layovers in order to transfer from one vehicle to another (transfer time). Personal vehicle trips (such as in one's automobile) avoid such schedule inconvenience, transfer times and have little or no access time. This tends to make automobile trips faster and more convenient that trips on public transportation.
On the other hand, public transportation vehicle speeds may be faster. In the case of aircraft, travelling about ten times as fast as an automobile will often more than compensate for the increased access times to/from airports as well as the inconvenience of schedules. Also, public transportation avoids the stress of driving and lets one do some reading, etc. while travelling.
O-D means "Origin - Destination". If one is going to a scheduled event (such as a ones job, a meeting, appointment, or performance) one usually desires to arrive shortly before the scheduled event begins. But scheduled transportation may not allow this, requiring one to arrive earlier than desired. Then one must wait at the destination for the event to begin, resulting in extra waiting time due to the inconvenience of public transportation schedules.
Even if there is no scheduled event at the destination there are often preferred times of arrival. For example, a shopper doesn't want to arrive at a store when it's closed (or even shortly before it closes). For a day outing to the mountains, shore, a park, etc. one often desires to arrive in mid-morning so that they will have most of the day to enjoy at the destination. When visiting people, it's desirable to arrive when they are at home and not at work. There are of course many more examples of inconvenience due to scheduled arrival time. With an automobile, one can choose the departure time so as to arrive at about the desired time. But with public transportation that is often not possible
Likewise, there is also schedule inconvenience due to the scheduled departure time. For example, if one is done with their activities (or work) and it's time to return home, there may not be any public transportation scheduled to depart at that time and one has to wait for the next scheduled departure time. Another problem with scheduled vehicles is the case where an activity takes longer than planned. For example, if one planned to take a certain plane or train home, staying longer at the event than expected could cause one to miss their plane or train. Examples include a meeting, performance, or recreation that takes longer than expected. While in most cases one can just leave the event early to avoid missing the plane or train, is some cases this is not possible. For example suppose one is taking a walk, hike, bicycle ride, etc. and is delayed by a minor accident or stormy weather. In any case, it's bad news for the traveller; something that could be likely avoided if one travelled by automobile.
Are there cases of having O-D waiting at both the origin and destination? Yes, but in this case one might still have to do such waiting even if using an automobile. For example, you get off work at a fixed time and will then travel to a meeting via bus. But due to bus schedules, you have to wait after work to catch the bus and then have to wait at the destination for the meeting to begin since the bus schedule gets you to the meeting way too early. Thus there is O-D waiting time both at the trip origin and destination. However, an automobile might not be any better in this case. With an auto, you could depart for the meeting immediately after work but then would arrive at the meeting location even earlier than if you took the bus. Thus there is no reduction in O-D waiting time if you go via auto. But wait, suppose that you go by auto, but decide to do some shopping between the end of work and the start of the meeting. Thus, due to the ability of the auto to go anywhere, anytime you've created a new shopping trip so as to eliminate O-D waiting. But of course, shopping may not have been a high priority for you.
Note that such O-D waiting is not necessarily done at the transportation terminal (such as an airport or train station). It may be done at at work, at a scheduled event location, etc. The utility of the such waiting time may be better than just sitting in a transportation terminal but it is likely to have lower utility than the typical things that a person spends their time at. If public transportation is scheduled frequently, O-D waiting time is of less significance.
In summary, the inconvenience of schedules of public transportation often results in various types of waiting time that many don't think of as waiting time. It often results in someone being somewhere when they would really rather be somewhere else.
Transfer time (also called "connect time" or "layover time") is the time it takes to change public transportation vehicles. It may be just a short walk from one train to another, or a much longer transfer involving a longer walk and wait to transfer from one airplane to another. It sometimes involves taking a bus or taxi between two different transportation terminals in the same city. End-to-end trips by auto avoid such transfer time. The transfer time depends not only on the schedules, but on the distance and travel conditions between the two vehicles one transfers between.
This is the time it takes to get to the transportation terminal of origin and may include the "egress time" that it takes to get from the destination terminal to the final destination. Examples are the time taken to walk to a bus stop (analogous to a terminal) or the time taken to get to an airport and catch ones plane. It includes the additional waiting time at the terminal that is not included in O-D time such as time to check in, wait in line, and wait for the vehicle to arrive for loading. If one planned to arrive at a terminal just in time to board their vehicle, then they would often miss their plane, train, or bus due to the possibility of delays in the access trip. Thus it's rational to plan to arrive somewhat early at a terminal and such time spent waiting could be classified as access time.
In conclusion, due to schedules, public transportation is more inconvenient than the auto (or bicycle) and often requires considerable waiting and access times of various types. Even worse for public transportation is the case where it's behind schedule, which can result in one missing connections.
Economics of Transportation by D. Philip Locklin. Richard D. Irwin Inc., Homewood, Illinois, 1972 (7th ed.)
Getting There, The epic struggle between road and rail in the American century by Stephen B. Goddard. University of Chicago Press, 1994. Contains many errors and exaggerations. But except for the long article you're now reading, it seems to be the only serious study of highways replacing the railroad for passenger travel.
Inland Transportation, Principles and Policies by Sidney L. Miller. McGraw-Hill, New York, 1933.
Transportation Energy Data Book (annual) by Stacy Davis, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy. The most significant tables are in Ch. 2: Energy Transportation Energy Data Book, Ch. 2. Edition 1 in 1976 was titled "Transportation Energy Conservation Data Book". Ed. 1.5 was issued in 1977. From 1982 (Ed. 6) on, the title word "Conservation" was dropped.
Transportation, Economics and Public Policy by Dudley F. Pegrum. Richard D. Irwin, Inc., Homewood, Illinois, 1973 (3rd ed.)
Transportation, Economic principles and Practices by Emory R. Johnson, et. al. D. Appleton Century, New York, 1940.
Transportation, Principles and Problems by Truman C. Bigham and Merrill J. Roberts. McGraw Hill, New York, 1952.
The Transportation Revolution (Vol. IV: The Economic History of the United States) by George Rogers Taylor. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1951.
The Automobile Age by James J. Flink. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1998
Facts and Figures of the Automobile
Industry (and related titles) by:
National Automobile Chamber of Commerce 1913-1934
Automobile Manufacturers Association 1935-1972
Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association 1973-1992
American Automobile Manufacturers Association 1993-1998?
Americas Highways 1776-1976. U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), 1976. (Includes data from: Pubic Roads in the United States in 1904, by Office of Public Roads Inquiry, US Government, Dept. of Agriculture, 1907).
History of Public Works in the United States 1776-1976. American Public Works Association (Chicago, IL), 1976. See chapter on Highways. This seems to have copied much material verbatim from the above book by FHWA. On p. 68 is the 1897 survey of city street pavements.
American Railroads by John F. Stover. University of Chicago Press, 1961.
Passenger Traffic Report by (United States) Office of Federal Coordinator of Transportation. Section of Transportation Service. Washington D.C., 1935. (A critical report of rail passenger service.)
The Passenger Train in the Motor Age: California's rail and bus industries, 1910-1941 by Gregory Lee Thompson. Ohio State University Press, Columbus, OH, 1993.
Passenger Transport in the United States 1920-1950 by Lewis C. Sorrell and Harry A Wheeler. Railway Business Association, Chicago, 1944. ("1920-1950" seems to be in error).
Railway Transportation, Principles and Point of View by Sidney L. Miller. McGraw-Hill, Chicago & New York, 1924.
The Railroad Situation - A Perspective on the present, past and Future of the U.S. Railroad Industry by Reebie Associates. Sponsored by the Federal Railroad Administration, U.S. Dept of Transportation. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1979.
Report of the Commission (U.S. Presidential Railroad Commission). U.S. Government Printing Office, Feb.1962.
Yearbook of Railroad Facts (annual), Association of American Railroads, Washington, DC. (annual).
Bicycle, the history" by David V. Herlihy. Yale University Press, New Haven, 2004.
Energy in the American Economy, 1850-1975 by Sam H. Schurr and Bruce C. Netschert. The John Hopkins Press, Baltimore MD, 1960.