History of WRTA and Mass Transit in Mahoning County
The earliest known mass transit in the city of Youngstown came in the form of horse-drawn trolleys in 1873. In 1890, two existing trolley companies merged to form the Youngstown Street Railway Co. A year later, the company introduced electric-powered streetcars.
Branching out from the immediate downtown Youngstown area, an independent company constructed a line to the newly opened Idora Park on the south side in 1893. By the end of the first decade of the 20th Century, several companies were offering electric streetcar service to destinations as far away as Warren, Sharon, New Castle, Columbiana and Leetonia.
Buses (as opposed to streetcars) first came to Youngstown in 1922 courtesy of the Youngstown Municipal Railway Co. Buses were seen as somewhat of a luxury, in that the were enclosed and had soft leather seats, as opposed to the open streetcars with their hard wooden seats. The two types of vehicles operated side-by-side for several years.
The depression years saw most interurban trolley routes abandoned, so by the end of the 1930s, streetcars no longer ran from Youngstown to Warren, New Castle and Sharon. However, 1936 saw the introduction of trackless trolley buses, which were powered by overhead electrical lines but operated as buses did — on tires rather than tracks. The last streetcars in Youngstown went out of service in 1940.
In 1957, the Youngstown Municipal Railway Co., which had introduced bus service in 1922, was renamed Youngstown Transit Co. Trackless trolleys were discontinued in 1959.
The Youngstown Transit Co. continued to provide bus service in Mahoning County until 1971, when it became the publicly owned Western Reserve Transit Authority.