Long before BART or AC Transit, East Bay commuters relied on the Key System, a network of electric streetcars, for local travel and even to cross the Bay (there used to be tracks on the lower deck of the Bay Bridge!). Despite serving millions of passengers annually, the rails were ripped out and the network was completely dismantled by 1958. This episode explores the forces that brought down the Key System and the lessons this history might hold for those interested in a more transit-friendly future.
Listen to the podcast to hear memories from former riders who remember taking many exciting excursions on the streetcars, and also from volunteers at the Western Railway Museum, an organization dedicated to celebrating the legacy of track-based modes of transport. Big thanks to this episode’s guests: John Harder, Robert Immergluck, Cambridge Lutèce, and Mickey Simmons. Check it out on Apple, SoundCloud, Spotify, or wherever you get podcasts.
This episode marks the launch of my new line of apparel with Oaklandish. The design on the hats and shirts is based on the Key System’s “flying key” logo. Over on the Oaklandish blog, I share some additional thoughts on what inspired the theme of this collaboration. I hope you’ll check it out, especially if you’re interested in thinking about ways to make the Bay Area’s roads safer, cleaner, and less gridlocked.
This episode is supported by UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. I highly recommend checking out their new podcast, “Revolutionary Care: An Oakland Story,” a series about the history of treating sickle cell anemia: www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/sickle-cell
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