According to TriMet's website, there have been 34 different companies that have served the Portland area's transit needs. That's a lot of history to document. Let's shed some light on this important aspect of Portland's development. Here are a couple of tidbits that I found doing an internet search on Rose City Transit, the private company that directly preceded the public agency TriMet.
According to a post on Cafe Unknown, "In 1946, the Portland Traction Company was sold to [a] San Francisco based holding company named Portland Transit, which would operate Portland Traction (and its successor Rose City Transit) until the formation of Tri-Met in 1969."
In an article in Brainstorm NW, the Cascade Policy Institute's John Charles explained that in 1968, after a battle over wages and fare prices "the Portland City Council terminated [Rose City's] franchise agreement. The City Council then succeeded in getting a bill passed in the state legislature authorizing the creation of a government-run transit district to take over service. TriMet used the powers of eminent domain to take over Rose City’s assets..." Dr. Carl Abbott wrote that the City Council worked for the bill because Rose City was on the very precipice of bankruptcy and would have left Portland with no public transportation service, except taxis.
For those of you who prefer digging in paper archives, the Oregon Historical Society has five boxes of materials on the Rose City Transit Company, including correspondence (1941-67), reports, memorand, and statistical data.
I plans to post follow-uo entries on this topic, but I want to get the conversation going. What else do we know about Portland's past transit companies?