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DC Transit & Family

My parents both worked for Capital Transit after World War II. Dad painted buses, Mom worked in the schedule office and an uncle was a motorman and later a cashier. Despite name changes, it was always called just, "The Company" in our home.

When streetcars were to be discontinued, I had asked Dad why and was told how the "ploughs" gave the company problems in the winter. They¹d get stuck on ice and break off. Then the streetcar (never trolley in our house) would be struck and have to be towed in.

Streetcars in DC got their power from a "third rail" BELOW the street. There weren¹t any unsightly trolley lines ABOVE the street. Yet, I believe all the cars had trolley poles for use outside the city. To our family they were still streetcars.

Even back before they took the streetcars away, there was concern about "auto-carosis." The March 2, 1953 issue of Transit News urges "You the transit rider should support: A more restricted use of the private auto in downtown area; the facilitating of the transit vehicles; and the encouragement of further use of public transportation."

There is a great museum just north of Washington, DC that has operating streetcars. Visit the National Capital Trolley Museum if you get a chance.

My aunt had a collection of Bus and Streetcar passes from when she first came to Washington as one of the "Government Girls" for the War (World War II). Click here to see that collection.

Thanks for the comments on this site. Email me and I'll add your memories to these.

The Washington Metropolitian Transit Commission was formed originally to regulate the various companies providing bus service. In 1973 it became responsible for operating the bus system under the trade name METRO. At that time Jack Eisen of theWashington Post did a brief history of the companies that became METRO. This outline is pulled from that article and some items in my collection. See the Washington Post January 23, 1973 page H1 for full information.


Took over routes of these companies:

D.C. Transit System 1956
WMA Transit Co. 1953
AB&W Transit Co. 1934
Washington, Virginia & Maryland Coach Co.owned by DC Transit from 1964 on. 1926

DC Transit System

Includes these companies:

Capital Transit Co. 1933
Montgomery Bus Lines 1927
Inter-county Transit Corp1959

WMA Transit Co.

Formed from this company:

Washington, Marboro & Annapolis Motor Lines 1926

AB&W Transit Co.

Includes these companies:

Mount Vernon, Alexandria & Washington Railway 1927
Alexandria, Barcroft & Washington Rapid Transit originally the Columbia Pike Bus Line (1921) 1924
Alexandria-Washington Buses, Inc. 1931

Washington, Virginia & Maryland Coach Company

Purchased the Arlington & Fairfax Motor Transportation Company in 1947

A few others

Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad

Once ran between Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis. The southern end of the Baltimore Light Rail System operates over this right-of-way. Conrail handles freight to Glen Burnie on this line at night.

Chesapeake Beach Railroad

Washington, DC to Chesapeake Beach, MD. Tracks were pulled up east of Suitland and the railroad re-named East Washington Railroad. Even this short stub was pulled up around 1980. The last locomotive and some equipment went to the Maryland Midland Railway.

Washington and Old Dominion Railroad

This line ran to Purcellville, VA from Potomac Yards in Alexandria. It had a branch line to Great Falls, VA. This road has been electric, steam, diesel and gasoline powered. The right-of-way is now a hike/bike trail, electric power right-of-way, covered by I-66 and just plain missing in places.

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Maintained by Steve Silvious - Last Updated December 10, 2008.