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Who Killed The Electric Street Car?

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Published on Aug 13, 2007

In this excerpt from Stephen Talbot's "Heartbeat of America" (1993), Christopher Snell explains how GM conspired with oil & tire companies to kill streetcars in cities all across America in order to create an inferior bus system that would guarantee the sale of tires, gas, and bus parts for an eternity.

As Snell explains, "They would go in, buy a street railway system. They'd convert it to General Motors Buses. The General Motors busses would run on Firestone tires. And they'd be fueled by, in the east, Phillips, and in the west, Standard Oil California."

In 1947, according to Snell, the Federal Government charged GM and its partners with criminal conspiracy. The result was that GM was fined $5,000 and its top official was fined a single dollar. Compare this to the over 150 billion dollar project currently in the works of trying to build a railway system for Los Angeles today.

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