Following a long buried trail of auto/oil industry schemes, Taken for a Ride exposes the dummy corporations, secret stock transactions and propaganda campaigns that destroyed one third of the nation’s streetcars.
The film reveals the tragic and little known story of an auto and oil industry campaign, led by General Motors, to buy and dismantle streetcar lines. Across the nation, tracks were torn up—sometimes overnight—and diesel buses placed on city streets. The highway lobby then pushed through Congress a vast network of urban freeways that doubled the cost of the Interstates, fueled suburban development, increased auto dependence, and elicited passionate opposition. Seventeen city freeways were stopped by citizens who would become the leading edge of a new environmental movement.
With investigative journalism, vintage archival footage and candid interviews, Taken for a Ride presents a revealing history of our cities in the 20th century that is also a meditation on corporate power, city form, citizen protest, and the social and environmental implications of transportation.
Taken for a Ride had its broadcast premiere on the PBS documentary flagship series POV in August 1996, and was featured at numerous international film festivals, including IDFA in Amsterdam. The film was also distributed to European television outlets, and purchased by hundreds of university and college libraries in the U.S.