Abstract: The Multi-Destination Transit Movement in the Western United States and Canada, 1970-2000

Gregory L. Thompson


From the 1960s into the 1990s urban transit systems in Edmonton, Vancouver (British Columbia), San Diego, San Francisco, and Portland underwent major transformation from providing almost exclusively a central business district (CBD) focus to a more diffuse focus where users could get to many different destinations. The paper is a history of how the route transformations took place. It traces the spread of a common idea in Canada and then its further spread to San Diego, San Francisco, and Portland. The paper is based on more than forty taped interviews with those responsible both for the route restructuring ideas and their implementation, and with those responsible for the decisions to build rail transit. It pays particular attention to connections between individuals at different points in time. It distinguishes between decisions to implement rail lines in the urban areas from decisions to change the route structure. The former typically involved regional power brokers; the latter typically involved 1960s-era activists with revolutionary zeal. It also is based on newspaper accounts and on technical reports written during the period. This paper is a work in progress, and it is part of a larger work that also is in progress.