8.6/10
97
3 user 2 critic

Taken for a Ride (1996)

How the American auto industry engineered the demise of city public-transit systems.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Jim Klein ...
Narrator
Renee Montagne ...
Narrator
Bradford Snell ...
Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Joe Alfonsie ...
Himself
Joseph L. Alioto ...
Himself
Roger Arnebergh ...
Himself
Jack Boorse ...
Himself
Charlotte Bullock ...
Herself
Della Clementi ...
Herself
Francis V. du Pont ...
Himself (archive footage)
Roy Fitzgerald ...
Himself (archive footage)
Ben Grauer ...
Newscaster (archive footage)
Jim Holzer ...
Himself
Barney Larrick ...
Himself
Edwin 'Jay' Quinby ...
Himself (archive footage)

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How the American auto industry engineered the demise of city public-transit systems.

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Documentary

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6 August 1996 (USA)  »

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Quotes

Bradford Snell: At that time Alfred P. Sloan said "Wait a minute. This is a great opportunity. We've got ninety percent of the market out there that we can somehow turn into automobile usage. If we can somehow eliminate the rail alternative, then we will create a new market for our cars. If we don't, then General Motors' sales are gonna be level." They had to get rid of the streetcars. They wanted the space that the streetcars used for automobiles. They had to find something that they could put in place of the...
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User Reviews

 
Terrific! The whole seamy in-depth story behind the corporate assassination of America's streetcar and trolley systems.
8 March 2000 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

America once enjoyed the world's finest rail transit services. The electric railway systems ... the streetcar, trolley and rapid transit lines ... were safe, clean, fast, frequent, and on time. And then, very suddenly it seemed, most of them were gone, vanished, to be replaced by smoking, lumbering motor buses and ever-widening roads and highways. "Progress!" exclaimed the officials; but as the years passed and traffic congestion worsened, rumors and legends began to circulate, disturbing tales of immense behind-the-scenes power and influence that had come into play in dooming the nation's efficient electric rail lines.

And then a hard-hitting, still-talked-about "60 Minutes" television report on the topic in December, 1986 clarified and coalesced all those persistent, if unfounded, urban legends into a saga of corporate greed, political manipulation and nationwide corruption. It wasn't obsolescence that condemned the rail systems, said the report ... it was "murder by intent".

Finally the tale was told. And a decade later came "Taken For A Ride", a masterful documentary on the now-revealed story. We see the subliminal propaganda devices ... rare posters, ads and film clips extolling the coming glories of internal-combustion transit. Still-surviving witnesses tell of their experiences in the changeover efforts. Cases where resistance was mounted are related. Unforgettable before/during/after imagery is everywhere.

It's a see-and-see-again film, a brave effort that names names as it gives the viewers just one more example of how faceless, far-off corporate entities can change our lifestyles. Highly recommended to all, not just transit advocates and historians.


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