There was a rumor that between 1938 and 1950, officials at General Motors were buying up train and light rail systems in cities so that people would have to buy more cars. The only falsity in this theory turned out to be that it wasn’t just GM that was in on this ploy, but several other companies, as well.
According to this conspiracy theory in circulation online since many years, between 1938 and 1950, auto company General Motors (GM) along with many other companies were buying up train and light rail systems in many cities of United States so that people would have to buy more Cars. It is a fact with some missing information as discussed below.
General Motors (GM) Streetcar Conspiracy
The story in question is usually referred to as the General Motors Streetcar Conspiracy or the Great American Streetcar Scandal. It was during the dawn of the Automobile age, between 1938 and 1950, when General Motors (GM) conspired with Oil, Tire and other mega-companies, also including Car manufacturers. They began to buy electric streetcar (municipal trolley car systems) and light rail (train) systems systematically and then shut them down or dismantled them. They also converted some streetcars to buses. The purpose behind all this was to leave millions of Americans without viable public transportation options; that would make them buy cars. Because at the time, around 90 percent of all transport was by rail, mostly electric.
As mentioned in the video, Los Angeles and many other major cities had some of the best electric street car systems in the United States, before they disappeared because of the GM street car conspiracy. The missing information here, of course, is that there were also certain other setbacks to the rail systems, like accidents and shortage of electricity post World War 2. Because of the conspiracy and the existing conditions, illegal scheme to sell buses came into existence and subsequently, the car culture began to rise — paving business for auto and oil industry.
For this street car conspiracy, General Motors and its corporate allies were indicted in 1947 on federal antitrust charges. They were found guilty by the federal jury and the companies in the consortium were fined with $5,000 each. Nonetheless, the cheap, convenient and sustainable public rail transportation started dying, and today, we all know that the heavy private and public auto traffic globally has not only increased the environmental pollution, but also harms human health tremendously. Unfortunately, we have gone far away from creating climate-and community-friendly transportation systems. However, the light-rail transit systems under construction or expansion we find in many cities today is a good thing for change in the scenario.
Hoax or Fact:
Fact with some missing information.
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