Winnipeg Cab History / 50: Jitneys (2)
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This detail from a 1911 panoramic view of Winnipeg's grain exchange district shows a touring car parked on the city hall cab stand. It may of course be a private car, but if it is a taxi it is evidence that some cab owners were employing standard touring cars instead of town cars, limousines or purpose-built taxi models well before the jitneys appeared on the scene in 1914 and 1915.


Peter Schawang, "Panoramic View of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada Main Street North-West, July 21, 1911." Archives Manitoba, Winnipeg Views 1911 1 (Negative N19603).

Winnipeg Cab History / 50

Jitneys (2)

The sudden appearance of the jitney was more likely a sudden acceleration of forces that were already in motion. In 1910 a total of 36 Winnipeg companies and individuals, including restaurateurs and other unlikely fleet owners, licensed five cars each. Clearly these people were buying and selling cars, renting them out or using them for cab service. In 1910 a local McLaughlin dealer actually advertised "the best livery cars in town" -- that is, cars for hire.

This suggests that while the jitney phenomenon may have bloomed in 1915, the seeds were planted years before.

It was the complaints of streetcar companies that made the jitneys notorious, but what began as the itinerant pilfering of streetcar passengers soon became much more organized. Jitneys began to offer what amounted to regular bus service along major routes.

Usually the jitneys did this in competition with streetcars (and in direct violation of streetcar monopolies) but they also found customers along routes where no streetcar service existed. They competed with taxi companies too, operating as flat-rate cabs whenever the opportunity arose.


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