History - From Interurbans to Bus Service

Larger trolleys, known as the Interurbans, began serving areas outside the metro in 1910, when the Capitol Hill Line was extended to Moore (9 miles south of the city). The second extension for the Interurbans was when 29 miles of track were completed to reach El Reno. Just north of Oklahoma City, the Britton Line was extended in 1912 through barren land all the way to Edmond (15 miles north), the site of the first teachers??college (now known as the University of Central Oklahoma). By the end of 1912, the company?셲 lines totaled 103 miles. The fleet included 95 passenger cars, two electric locomotives, and 22 freight and dump cars.

The last two interurban lines were added to Norman and Guthrie in 1913 and 1916. The Norman interurban line was the busiest by far and remained so until the end of the interurban lines.

More than 50 cars were purchased between 1913 and 1918, and by this time the system totaled more than 138.2 miles. Despite the addition of new streetcars, service was slow and traffic congestion hindered streetcar performance. The affordability of the automobile caused public transportation to lose its appeal. Ridership was down and ORC had drained its resources by the end of the construction era.

The ORC wanted to raise fares to $0.10, but Oklahoma City Mayor Cargill wouldn?셳 allow such an increase as he threatened to put in a bus service. Fares were raised from $0.05 to only $0.08. The ORC soon went into debt totaling over 6 million dollars.

ORC filed for reorganization under the bankruptcy act in July 1939.

With the outbreak of World War II, Oklahoma became the sight of several military installations, the largest of which was Tinker Field. Many military families settled in Norman, increasing the importance of the Norman Interurban Line. This seemed to be the lifesaver of ORC. As ridership increased due to civilian fuel conservation, the interurban was back in business. ORC revenue increased nearly eight times during this era. However, at the end of the war revenues declined.

In 1945, the Oklahoma Transportation Company took over the mangament of ORC. However, the loss of ridership and mounting debt brought an end to the interurban services in November 1946. It was agreed that the use of an all bus system was the best economic approach to providing public transportation. So by the 1950s, 95 buses were placed in service.

In time, due to the construction of the interstate highway system and government policies that fueled suburban growth the use of public transportation decreased. Leading to the announcement in 1965 that the Oklahoma Transportation Company would stop providing public transit services.


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