However, instead of serving a single municipality this new operation would link two or more.In an era before automobiles, when steel rails handled nearly all interstate and intercity travel, the interurban concept seemed viable, in theory.Sprague failed to interest the New York Elevated but others were impressed.
By 1950 just 1,519 miles remained and the number dropped to 209 miles by 1959.
As William Middleton notes in his book, " The interurban was conceived as a transit system, developed from the basic streetcars of the era.
Those like the Illinois Terminal, South Shore Line, and Piedmont & Northern maintained more than 100 miles each and boasted an expansive freight business.
Alas, the classic streetcar proved susceptible even to the earliest of automobiles and began a quick decline after World War I.
There was also the added perk of providing some freight business.
As interubans expanded they did indeed initially prove popular offering quick service, multiple schedules daily (the large Illinois Traction system, for instance, was dispatching 106 trains out of Springfield, Illinois everyday by 1906), and with fares only a few cents each way.To produce the needed power either substations were built or it was purchased directly from energy companies.While most interurbans were small, local operations this was not always the case.Ironically, the commuter services inteurbans provided are actually making a comeback as LRT (light rail transit) systems as cities look for alternatives to increasingly crowded highways.What became the classic interurban all began in the 1870's with two key developments; in 1870 Zenobe Gramme unveiled a generator for commercial use while Werner von Siemens showcased the world's first electric locomotive at an exhibition in Berlin, Germany during 1879.It opened on February 2, 1888 and proved successful. Louis Car Company Birneys Electroliners Presidents’ Conference Committee Streetcars, PCCs Another important developer was Sidney Howe Short who invented a double-reduction, gearless motor and also learned that overhead catenary was the best means for electrical pickup.