Local Transportation

May 15, 1942

Report Outline
Urban Transport Problems in a War Economy
Staggering Hours to Level Traffic Peaks
Maximum Use of Mass Transit Equipment
Efficient Use of Private Automobiles
Special Focus

Urban Transport Problems in a War Economy

Drastic changes in riding habits are being forced on the American people as a result of shortages in critical materials. Normal imports of rubber are cut off for the duration of the war and only military equipment will have access to stockpile sources of rubber. Steel plant capacity is devoted to the war effort and automobile factories have been converted to the manufacture of war goods. Inadequate transportation facilities for gasoline have resulted in curtailed deliveries to certain areas, and in 17 eastern states it was necessary to institute gasoline rationing on May 15.

While these and other factors are conspiring to reduce both the number and use of private automobiles, and thereby to increase demands upon mass transit systems, the production of new buses and streetcars lags behind the indicated requirements. Moreover, public transportation systems would be utterly incapable of handling the added passenger load which would result from any wholesale abandonment of the use of those private automobiles which now carry a large percentage of war workers to and from their jobs.

The obvious course dictated by these shortages is recognition by car owners and transit companies of the necessity of making the maximum possible use of present equipment. In part, this will mean that the use of transportation units must be restricted mainly to essential purposes, and that a number of stop-gap methods will have to be employed to prolong the life and insure the efficient use of existing facilities. Staggering the working hours of employees will spread peak traffic demands over more hours of the day, thus enabling mass transit units to carry a larger proportion of the total traffic load. Group-ride plans will insure that each private car in use will be loaded to capacity, thus making it possible for a decreased number of automobiles to carry an increased percentage of this type of traffic, with resultant declines in the wear and tear on automobiles temporarily out of service. Efficient application of the various proposals to make maximum use of available facilities will require cooperation on the part of labor, management, municipal traffic authorities, and local traction companies.

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