The Origins of Public Transportation In America- The Horse-Drawn Commute
Ever been stuck in a traffic jam and pictured riding an horse across the open fields instead? The American public transportation system actually started somewhere in the middle of those two means of travel.
We tend to think of railroads a being the first real form of public transportation in the country, but prior to that, there were various horse-drawn means of moving groups of people efficiently. There were the covered wagons, of course, which preceded the railroads as the main means of getting groups of people across long distances. The stagecoach system actually developed and grew right alongside the railroad system. But, there were also various wagons and wagon-like systems at work in the cities that served roughly the same function that buses do now.
The first predecessor of the modern bus was the horse-drawn omnibus and, as the name indicates, it was pretty much a bus drawn by a horse that would take fixed routes around cities. These began to appear in the early 1800’s and interestingly they not only had a double-decker design from right near the beginning but also sold advertising displayed prominently across their sides as modern buses do!
The biggest weakness of the omnibus was that it took a small team of horses to pull. Eventually, as the railroad began to take root, rail technology was incorporated to create the horsecar. As the omnibus was the predecessor of the bus, this was basically the predecessor of light rail ... and also drawn by a horse! Since it was essentially a railroad car mounted on a rail, however, it only took one horse to draw.
Even with the reduction of horses these systems still had a tremendous weakness -- too much horse plop all over the
streets! The development that would eventually bring an end to horse-powered public transport was the cable car, which debuted in New York City in the late 1860s. Cable cars themselves would be short-lived due to high potential for serious accidents and would be widely replaced by streetcars within 20 years, but they represented the point at which the American city parted ways with its horse-drawn mass transit systems.
Today’s Fleet Pioneers at Creative Bus Sales
These days, public transportation does more for us then just get us from point A to point B. It is a cost effective way to improve congestion as well as our environment. Similar to how the Omnibus created a new wave of transportation, we are the pioneers of creating biofuels as a green alternative to conventional gasoline. Contact us to learn more about our green alternative bus fleet and fleet solutions that will make you a pioneer in your industry.
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