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SEPTA's Predecessor Was the Cause of Violent Riots

If you think that public hearings regarding SEPTA fare hikes get a little rowdy, check out the violent transit riots of the early 20th century: all SEPTA related hullabaloo seems incredibly tame in comparison. The Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company, founded in 1902, inspired a collusion between striking transit workers and dissatisfied passengers that turned into a series of violent riots.

According to the Fondly, Pennsylvania blog at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the management of the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company's management was "inefficient, secretive, and grossly unpopular with the public." Sound familiar?

What doesn't sound familiar is the hellacious firestorm that these management practices created:
On the afternoon of May 29th, 1909, strikers gathered all over the city, especially concentrating in streetcar suburb areas like West Philadelphia, Frankford, Brewerytown, and Germantown. The strikes turned violent after sunset: strikers gathered into unruly groups that at some points swelled to over 600 men. Some left dynamite on trolley tracks, vaulted rocks into crowds, stormed trolley cars, and uprooted supportive trolley poles. The PRT eventually got its act together and began treating its employees remarkably well, setting aside 22% of company profits for employee salaries, and creating a trailblazing cooperative. Of course, when the PRT reorganized into the Philadelphia Transit Company, the cooperative died out. Later, the Philadelphia Transit Company was acquired by National City Lines, which was one of many private transit companies consolidated to form the SEPTA we know and love today.
· The Rise and Fall of the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company [Fondly, Pennsylvania]