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Economic Perspectives, Vol. 3, 3rd, No. 17, September 1979
Urban Mass Transit: a Major Revival
The President's new energy program, presented in his speech July 15, singled out mass transit as an area for special attention. In its current form, this program allocates nearly $13 billion more to the $27.5 billion that the federal government planned to spend over the next decade. Although Congress has not yet defined the energy program in detail, inclusion of this additional funding would represent another milestone in the recovery of an industry that had been declining through most of the past 60 years. With the introduction of the Model-T, a change began in the way the average American lived. One consequence was the start of a long decline in the use of public transit. The switch from street car to automobile was stopped and then even reversed by the Great Depression. From 1933 to 1941, the last year before the United States entered World War II, the number of riders actually increased at an average annual rate of nearly 3 percent. That was twice as fast as the growth of the adult population. 1


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