Winnipeg Cab History / 49: Jitneys (1)
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The photo of a typical jitney is dated 1915 when the impact of jitneys began to be felt. The car is parked outside the Norwood Garage in St. Boniface.


1915. 1913 Ford Touring car used as a Jitney owned by John Dykes. Archives Manitoba, Transportation - Automobile 23 (Negative N8870).

Winnipeg Cab History / 49

Jitneys (1)

Burgeoning private car ownership was the real enemy of established taxicab companies, just as it was the real enemy of street car companies. Thanks to Henry Ford and his competitors car ownership rapidly came within reach of thousands of Winnipeggers who in other times would have had to travel by foot, by horse-cab or by streetcar.

Besides, automobiles were a lot cheaper and simpler to keep than horses which had to be fed, watered and cared for daily whether they were working or not.

Car ownership consequently had a serious impact on customer base of both streetcars and taxicab companies. It posed an even more serious threat when thousands of car owners in Canada and the U.S. suddenly got the bright idea of using their cars as illegal or quasi-legal taxis.

This was the "jitney" phenomenon which seemed to spring up overnight in 1914. In cities, jitneys cruised streetcar stops, picking up impatient passengers for a nickel (or "jitney") a head.

The jitneys had an enormous impact on streetcar revenues. The Winnipeg Electric Street Railway Company blamed the jitneys for over a million dollars in lost fares between 1915 and April, 1918. In June, 1917, the company ran a deficit for the first time and its $100 shares fell in value to $36. By February, 1918 the WESR could not meet its financial obligations to the city.


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