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History and Facts

The first public transportation system in Dayton operated 36 years before the first area electric light was turned on and 41 years before the first paved street was complete! The Omnibus Line, begun in 1847, took passengers between Dayton and Cincinnati for $2 and took seven hours to complete a trip.

In 1869 the Dayton Street Railway Company built its first streetcar line, marking the first local transportation option. The travel time from West Third Street at Western Avenue to East Third Street at Findlay Street took 1 hour and 20 minutes. The same service today would take around 20 minutes.

The streetcar line provided the real birth of public transportation for Dayton residents. On its first day of operation on May 2, 1870, six horse-drawn streetcars proceeded west on Third Street. The first car carried the Odd Fellows Band; the second car was filled with railway officers and members of the press. The other cars provided a thrilling ride for "ladies and gentlemen of the area." For one year, the Dayton Street Railway Company provided the only public transportation of its kind in Dayton.

In following years, the Dayton View Street Railway, the Oakwood Street Railway, the Wayne and Fifth Street Railroad Company, and the Fifth Street Railway Company began service. Additional railroad service was offered to area residents in January, 1851 when the Mad River and Lake Erie line began offering transportation between Dayton and Springfield.

Even in the age where electricity and telephones were yet unheard of in Dayton, residents began to see and utilize the advantages of public transportation in their area.

By August, 1888, the first electric line began service in Dayton. Operated by the "White Line" (People's Railway), 12 electric cars went into service on August 8 that year. The system was built by the Van DePoel Electric Railway Company of Chicago and offered free rides to area residents during the first week of operation. These early street cars had incandescent lamps in the passenger compartments and a sloping channel system running from the rear of the car to a bucket in the drivers cab for fare collection. Construction on this line was completed at night by moonlight in order to avoid mule or horse streetcar traffic in the daytime.

 

History and Facts

 

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