Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The first known jitney in the U.S. started in Los Angeles in 1914, and now, 102 years later, they are comparing the ridesharing companies to those Jitneys all over the web (I found 4 articles repeating the same thing)

the Saturday Evening Post did an article on the Jitney phenomenon in 1915  and revisted the topic, 100 years later.  because now the place and use of jitneys is being filled by Uber, Lyft, etc

Services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar are all disrupting the taxi industry with smartphone apps that allow you to hail and pay for rides from taxicabs, limos and sometimes even just regular people looking to "ride-share."

But this isn't the first time that we've seen a massive disruption in the taxi industry, and it was also from California, just like Uber.

The 1910s saw the rise of the automobile, and along with it, the rise of the ride-sharing and alternative taxi service. Many of them unlicensed, they were known as a "jitney," costing just a nickel, or about $1.10 adjusted for inflation. (At the time, the word "jitney" was slang for a nickel.)

(for the story of the San Francisco jitneys- )  Jitneys at 18th and Castro, July 1915. Detail of photo U04909 at SFMTA archive. SFMTA Photo |

The automobile jitney offered flexibility, convenience, and speed to those disappointed with streetcars. The jitneys were faster, could slip through traffic, and didn’t stop at every street corner for more passengers. They were so affordable that businessmen were taking rides home for lunch instead of dining at restaurants close to the office.

Used cars provided cheap jitney buses, and they were welcome alternatives to rail cars, as those weren't allowing smoking, and open air Jitneys were. Plus unemployment was high.

But the railways were losing so much money, 75% just to jitneys, the rest to used cars, the mayor of LA put the city council to work outlawing Jitneys for the next year or two, and by 1918 the jitney was pretty much extinct in the city and heavily cut back by as much as 90 percent across the U.S.

 The government put many harsh regulations on jitneys including that they pay for liability bonds that amounted from 25-50 percent of their income, jitneys operate along a designated route and charge triple to deviate from that route, carry all city employees free of charge, require a 10mph speed limit for jitneys, ban jitneys from high ridership areas and many other harsh limitations. This effectively ended the jitney

It's a pretty good story how the first one got started too...

In a 1915 Saturday Evening Post article “The Jitney Juggernaut,” author Will Payne claimed the nationwide phenomenon was started by L.R. Draper, a car salesman. For weeks, Draper noted a growing number of people waiting for the First Street trolley car. So, one July morning in 1914, he put a sign in the window of his car declaring his intention to take passengers to Boyle Heights, three miles away, for a “jitney” — that is, a nickel.

Later that month, “two or three other enterprising persons, having leisure and a low-priced automobile, hung signs on the latter and followed in Mr. Draper’s footsteps, covering the same route,”

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