The first regularly scheduIed public transit line to be operated in St. Louis, a horse drawn omnibus, began operating in 1844 from the National Hotel at Third and Market Streets to the north ferry landing. It afforded a rough ride on cobblestone streets. Horse car lines on rails came into existence in 1859, when the first tracks were laid on Olive Street from Fourth to Twelfth. This gave a smooth ride and decreased the strain on the horses pulling the car. However, derailments were commonplace in the early days. By the 1870's downtown was interlaced by horse car lines operated by many different companies. A major breakthrough was the introduction of cable cars in the 1880's, followed by electric trolley lines in the nineties. The competing companies were eliminated by consolidation into the St. Louis Transit Company at the turn of the century.
This merger provided for universal free transfers and coordinated schedules. The downtown transit picture changed again after World War II with the gradual disappearance of streetcars in favor of motor buses. By 1966 the last streetcar line had disappeared. Bus operations began in 1921 with a single line on Washington Avenue which was unsuccessful. Regular bus lines were begun by the Peoples Motorbus Company in 1923. They operated double deck buses downtown during the twenties and thirties until the company's routes were coordinated with those of the Public Service Company in 1934. All transit lines are presently operated by the Bi-State Development Agency, which bought out the Public Servlce Company in 1963.
Image - Northern Central trolly car