California Urban Transit: Lessons for Management

by John Carter



In recent years, the trend has been a shift in the ownership and operation of urban transit systems from private to public bodies. This article explores the business organizations and financial arrangements which the public agencies of California are developing in assuming this increased responsibility. The prime cause of difficulties is the great increase in urbanization, while exaggerated in California, is a common experience everywhere. Transit implies urban transportation, but it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between urban, suburban, and interurban services. Most of the publicly owned systems discussed here offer services beyond the corporate limits of their municipalities, several are specifically districts. The two rapid transit districts operate over fairly long routes, and their services are not confined, even to a single county. However, much suburban bus service and all long distance interurban bus service is provided by private companies. A suburban rail commuter service is still provided on the San Francisco peninsula by the private Southern Pacific Co.

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