Legacy Club at Chicago Union Station

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Legacy Club at Chicago Union Station
Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, September 8, 2016 10:43 PM

So out of curiousity I bought a $20 day pass to the new CUS Legacy club which is open to Amtrak and Metra riders that pay the subscription fee.    For the price you get free soda, snacks, hot tea, hot Starbucks coffee, hot Cocoa, much nicer chairs, LCD TV screens and before your train is announced for boarding you get an Amtrak escort to your train where they will allow you to board before anyone else.

I thought for $20 it was an OK deal because usually the evening departure trains are pretty full and if you add up the soda and water intake I would probably buy two sodas or two waters before my train departed which lowered the real cost to me by getting them free.    When you buy the day pass they enter your train into the computer so they know when to announce it's departure.    So I bought the pass about 3 p.m. for a 5:08 p..m departure and I was escorted to the train about 4:40 p.m.    I counted about 20-25 other customers between 3-4:40 p.m. and only two attendents for the room.    So possibly Amtrak might make some money off this concept if it can enlist more into the subscription prices.

The Beer Consumption is restricted to prevent folks from getting drunk.   You can only consume four beers per happy hour and there are only two happy hours one after lunch and one right before dinner with a 2-3 hour break in between the happy hours when the beer refrigerator is locked.

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Posted by conrailman on Friday, September 9, 2016 11:45 PM

Is this different Lounge Amtrak just open a few weeks ago for Sleeping car and Business class??

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Posted by PJS1 on Saturday, September 10, 2016 8:26 AM

conrailman

Is this different Lounge Amtrak just open a few weeks ago for Sleeping car and Business class? 

According to a posting on Trip Advisor, the Legacy Club is open to any passenger for $20 a pop, which apparently is worth it if the passenger has a significant layover period in Chicago.  

The charge was $10 when the club opened, but apparently it has been so successful that Amtrak increased the fee to $20.  Apparently the club also offers an annual membership.

Google Legacy Club Union Station for more information. 

 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, September 10, 2016 12:06 PM

conrailman

Is this different Lounge Amtrak just open a few weeks ago for Sleeping car and Business class??

Yes, the amenities are slightly different and it is geared to all train travelers at Union Station not just Amtrak.     If they can rake in the money, it's worth it for the 20-30 people I saw there from 3-5 p.m. they brought in $400-600 gross which is not bad for just part of the day.  

Two attendents full time, even at Amtrak rates, I think they could turn a profit if they are able to recruit more for memberships and passes.     They need to get the gross take near $1200-1500 a day though to cover the forgone lease, overhead... in addition to the salaries and earn a profit.........Having just opened they are not far from that figure based on what I saw.

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Posted by RME on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 9:21 PM

CMStPnP
They need to get the gross take near $1200-1500 a day though to cover the forgone lease, overhead... in addition to the salaries and earn a profit.........Having just opened they are not far from that figure based on what I saw.

Apparently a part of their business model is this [from a review in late 2015]:

they plan on a bar later and club membership of $50 a month/$500 a year and lounges in Union stations all over the country where there is space. Members can bring 4 guestSleep and use the lounge for business events.  Now all that they have to add is a Shower and Recliners and we have an airport style lounge for less!

.

It's interesting to speculate on all the ways Amtrak could provide low-marginal-cost amenities with high perceived value for 'members' -- and a different set of cost-plus amenities for different 'levels' of membership corresponding to airline classes, or for sleeper passengers, or whatever.

One thing I'd think might be very useful, with the prospective rise in Uber service and 'autonomous vehicle jitney services', would be a low-cost method of informing and then escorting members to the actual point they meet their 'rides' just-in-time, and of course if this can be coordinated with luggage red-cappery so much the better.  It occurs to me that this could be done quite nicely with a proper AI app on a smartphone, given the free wireless coverage... an app whose code would have a rich set of follow-on uses...

 
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Posted by bratkinson on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 10:08 PM

If they can make a couple of dollars and provide a comfortable lounge area to their passengers, I think it's a way to improve Amtraks' "image".  Early boarding and avoiding the gate dragons would also be worth the $20 in my opinion.

Being a New Englander for the past 20+ years, I only pass through CUS as a sleeping car passenger, so I've endured the threadbare First Class lounge for too many years.  Unfortunately, when I went through there in the early part of May, it was still the threadbare lounge.  Now I'll have to wait until next year to make it to CUS again. 

As a courtesy to AGR Select and higher level customers, I think Amtrak should make Legacy Club access available at a reduced fee or even free for Select Plus & Executive levels.

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Posted by Victrola1 on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 8:59 AM

CHICAGO (CBS) — A Metra train passenger is recovering at home after she was hit in the head by falling debris at Union Station. It literally cracked her skull.

She now wants other riders to be aware and is calling for major fixes to be made.  

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2016/09/13/woman-hit-by-falling-debris-at-decaying-union-station/

Getting clubbed by falling debries the public may see as a greater priority.

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Posted by NKP guy on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 10:04 AM

   Frankly, the Legacy Lounge, or any other lounge or area that is not available to all passengers is...unAmerican.

   Look, I use those lounges and appreciate them.  And if I ever go again to Cedar Point I'll buy their Fast Pass so I can walk right by all those other people who have been standing in hot lines for hours.  But it's still unAmerican.

   Of course such unAmerican practices bring in extra money.  But they divide our people and make being treated decently a matter of paying extra.  In America today the poor are entitled to nothing, while the non-poor are forced to scheme, grovel, and dig further into their pockets in order to upgrade their travel experiences.  The whole thing is degrading and unAmerican.  

   In America we used to believe, "I'm no better than you are, but I'll be damned if I'm not just as good."  I grew up after the war in a country dedicated to increasing equality for everyone; today it's a country of Gold Card holders and "those people."

   How did rail passengers survive in the golden days of train travel without those lounges?  Where was the Plutocrats Lounge at GCT or Pennsylvania Station?  Where was it in Chicago or any other station for that matter?  There wasn't one, you say?  Precisely.  Because until you stepped on board all passengers were treated equally, and that meant well.  

   Our mantra today:  Some passengers are created more equal than others.   

   We can thank the airline industry for all of this; it's the natural fruit of capitalism.

   But it's still unAmerican.

 

 

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Posted by schlimm on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 10:13 AM

NKP guy
Our mantra today:  Some passengers are created more equal than others.       We can thank the airline industry for all of this.  It's the natural fruit of capitalism.    But it's still unAmerican.  

Agreed.  The old main waiting area at CUS was for everyone, coach and first class alike. Like airlines, Deutsche Bahn has had a separate First Class lounge area in major train stations for years.  Bad idea and not very well used. But at least it was free if you had a First Class ticket, not requiring additional fees.

The US used to at least try to be egalitarian, even if it never was since its founding. Lately there is no pretense. It's special treatment for the 1%, aka "job creators" as some say.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 10:16 AM

Victrola1

CHICAGO (CBS) — A Metra train passenger is recovering at home after she was hit in the head by falling debris at Union Station. It literally cracked her skull.

She now wants other riders to be aware and is calling for major fixes to be made.  

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2016/09/13/woman-hit-by-falling-debris-at-decaying-union-station/

Getting clubbed by falling debries the public may see as a greater priority.

 

 

When I was there it looked like they were doing heavy reconstruction in places on the trainshed.    I presumed it was because another developer had purchased air rights for a new building to be built but maybe not.    In the North Concorse they had a whole section of the trainshed removed over tracks 19 & 17 above the track stub ends and you could see open sky.

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Posted by dakotafred on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 8:06 PM

NKPGuy and Schlimm have been drinking too much out of the Bernie Sanders bottle (Scotch or otherwise).

This country has never been about "making everybody equal." Their equality before the law is a given, per the Constitution. What that given, plus capitalism, has offered is equality of opportunity.

Equality of result is up to you.

The kind of egalitarianism laid out by Schlimm and NKPGuy would require bringing the "rich" down to the economic level of the poor. Wisely, our country -- largely thanks to our economic system -- has been about raising the poor closer to the rich.

Hence the genius of capitalism, the middle class.

I am amused by the willingness of NKPGuy and Schlimm to swallow the camel of First Class on the trains but straining at the gnat of a lounge not just for First Class but for anybody with a $20 bill. Who leaves home without one of those?

Toward the more perfect world envisioned by NKPGuy and Schlimm, we should have only one class on the trains -- emigrant class, perhaps. (But leave your Scotch at home.) 

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 8:21 PM

If you do not want to spend $20.00 but still want to relax or go shopping while waiting for your first class or business class train, there is  still the Metropolitan Lounge.  https://www.amtrak.com/station-lounges  (highlight it and press "Enter" to reach the site.

However, if you are of the plebian class and want the amenities, you may pay your $20.00 and use the Club.

Johnny

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Posted by dakotafred on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 8:27 PM

There are also a couple of good bars. Who was it who called the bar "the poor man's club"?

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 8:33 PM

They did have at least one Chicago Bears Fan in the Legacy Club when I was there.      Easily identifiable.........4XL sized Gym shorts, T-Shirt, Baseball Cap and a Beer Gut that appeared it might be in competition in carrying volume with the Exxon Valdez.

Remember that these extra amenities are moving Amtrak to self sufficiency along with the additional room rental revenue and opening up more of CUS.

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, September 15, 2016 5:01 AM

The division between coach and Pullman can hardly be called un-American!

When it comes to railroading, possibly America invented this division.

Or did England institute 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class right away?

(2nd was dropped, with 1st and 3rd remaining.)

In a perfect world, yes, everyone would travel Pullman, but possibly instead of denying Pullman, let us all try to work for a more perfect world, and Pullman may help those of us who can afford it to work more efficiently and productively to that end.

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Posted by schlimm on Thursday, September 15, 2016 10:59 AM

dakotafred
NKPGuy and Schlimm have been drinking too much out of the Bernie Sanders bottle (Scotch or otherwise). This country has never been about "making everybody equal."

1. I don't know about NKPGuy, but I never supported Sanders.  I am also a believer in the form of capitalism that works best - the type in which wealth and income inequalities are much less than now.

2. The history of the United States has been one of attempts towards reducing inequality, starting with this famous phrase:"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." Since then, we have seen the end of slavery, enfranchisement of women, elimination of property ownership to vote, legalization of collective bargaining (under assault in some places), etc.  Of course these gains are constantly being attacked by elitist forces pretending to be the friends of the middle class, which only grew because of gains in equality in the 20th century.  Without enhanced equality, "equal opportunity" is an empty phrase.

 

 

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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Thursday, September 15, 2016 11:42 AM

What is the nearest place to Union Station to Buy your own beer to go?

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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Thursday, September 15, 2016 11:55 AM

Hotels used to have day rates near the Train Stations so that passengers and rr crewman could take snoozes between trains.

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, September 15, 2016 2:21 PM

I have no problem with that, but still favor luxury for those that can afford it while making life for the worst-off financially better continually.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, September 15, 2016 5:30 PM

schlimm
1. I don't know about NKPGuy, but I never supported Sanders.  I am also a believer in the form of capitalism that works best - the type in which wealth and income inequalities are much less than now.

My personal belief is that income and wealth are self imposed limitations to a degree.  A lot of folks can easily increase either with a little education but most won't lift a finger because it is easier to remain status quo and blame someone else.

I have no problem making $20-30,000 a year extra on the NYSE each year......sometimes more.    I try to coach others on how I do it but they always walk away when they see the risk before I get to the managing risk part of the story.    Leading me to conclusion #3456    People want to make more money but in addition to it being effortless on their part also want it to be risk free and like a lottery drawing.     Which leads me to conclusion #3457, some folks accept the reality they are in of the existing capitalist system, while others dream of a reality that will never be on this earth of a capitalist system that rains money for no effort and no risk.

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Posted by schlimm on Thursday, September 15, 2016 5:53 PM

CMStPnP
I have no problem making $20-30,000 a year extra on the NYSE each year......sometimes more.

It takes money to make money.  One doesn't make $20-30K on investments each year unless you have a decent sum available to play with.  A lot of folks live paycheck to paycheck.  The top 10% hold 75% of the wealth while the bottom 90% hold 73% of all debt. [The top 1% hold 33-42% of all wealth in the US]

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, September 15, 2016 10:47 PM

If equality is the main goal, then a Socialist economy is the ticket.  But North America in general has had a capitalist economy, based on individual initialtive and expectation of reward.  Such a system is possible with the addition of a floor netting that prevents the poor from starving and going naked and unhoused.  But too much welfair with the taxes that it imposess drives initiative away.  So the question is the right balance.  A welfair state? In general, the capitalist sysem has proven to provide a higher standard of living for the general population than the Socialist system.   (Bernie Sanders, are you listening?)

Certain things that are possible in USA Capitalism that are not approved under religious laws of any of the three monotheistic religions.  There, one is not allowed to enter one's competitor's shop or turf (even across an alley) to take away one's competitor's clients.  In particular, GM, manufacturing buses and cars, would have been prohibited from buying New York Railways (streetcars) in 1926, and on the basis of that success and conversion to buses in 1935-1936, forming National City Lines with Firestone and Texaco.  This was not a conspiracy, just sharp business practice.  But unethical according to religious law.   (Yes, I know, GM had scads of Jews on their payrole in this specific business.)

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Posted by Buslist on Friday, September 16, 2016 12:03 AM

daveklepper

In particular, GM, manufacturing buses and cars, would have been prohibited from buying New York Railways (streetcars) in 1926, and on the basis of that success and conversion to buses in 1935-1936, forming National City Lines with Firestone and Texaco.  

 

It has been pointed out to you before that GM forming NCL is a myth. It was formed by the Fitzgerald brothers to take over failing street railway companies and operate them as profitable bus based privately owned city transit systems. The brothers did seek capital from some of their suppliers in the form of prefered stock, but of course that has no voting power. This fact has been proven over and over yet some insist on perpetuating the myth.

Now back to the topic.

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, September 16, 2016 9:58 AM

You are in no position to prove that it was not Alfred Sloan's idea initially, with the Fitsgerads contacted by him.  The 1926 takeover of New York Railwys indicates that it probably was.  But again, it was not a conspiracy, and the fine that was levied after WWII  was for excluding other bus manufacturers, not for converting from rail to rubber.

I have read at least one account, that a meeting was held at GM before the NY Railways purchase where the discussion was on various meanns to increse business.

But note the political climate.  GM lobbied legislation passed that means highway taxes, even state highway taxes, could only be used for highway purposes, and the ICC's protection of trucking. Why would the Justice Department see monopolistic practice in power companies owning street railways and not in a bus manufacturer owning a street railway?  Does that seem fair?

If power companies were not forced to sell, possibly more streetcar lines and even possibly some interurbans might have survived longer.  

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Posted by schlimm on Friday, September 16, 2016 10:17 AM

daveklepper
If power companies were not forced to sell, possibly more streetcar lines and even possibly some interurbans might have survived longer.

Doubtful.  In the period 40s-60s, people turned away from most interurbans, even the good ones.  The companies, faced with increasing labor costs and decreased revenue, could not make a profit.

I also used to believe that myth, but someone/several on here gave convincing evidence to the contrary a few years ago.

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Posted by Buslist on Friday, September 16, 2016 11:33 AM

daveklepper

You are in no position to prove that it was not Alfred Sloan's idea initially, with the Fitsgerads contacted by him.   

And I guess you are? You're asking me to prove the negative, that something didn't happen?

There as been considerable research on the topic, none of which supports the GM control theory. The fact that the Fitzgeralds formed NCL several years before GM's finanical involvement sort of flies against the Sloan idea initially. I know of no objective researcher that supports that contention. And I can tell you that John F Due co-author of the landmark book on interurbans has described the GM theory as a bunch of BS. (I know him personally as I took several of his courses on Transport Economics and he was a member of my PhD committee). I'll hook you up with a retired UP regulatory lawyer who's pet peve is folks who believe the conspiracy and he'll give you a 2 hour lecture on all the things that are wrong with it. (Had to endure the lecture one evening even though I kept telling him "Bob I'm on your side here").

I have reviewed all of NCL's annual reports up to '68, even down to their evolution into a transit management company and Denver Chicago truck lines. So yes I think I know a bit about it! Your references?

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Posted by Buslist on Friday, September 16, 2016 12:54 PM

schlimm

 

 
daveklepper
If power companies were not forced to sell, possibly more streetcar lines and even possibly some interurbans might have survived longer.

 

Doubtful.  In the period 40s-60s, people turned away from most interurbans, even the good ones.  The companies, faced with increasing labor costs and decreased revenue, could not make a profit. 

 

Folks ask about the rural interurbans being built parallel to steam roads. The fact is that the interurbans were a direct attack on the steam road's business. The problem was that the business they attracted, very successfully for a short period, was the short haul business. This was the least profitable and most susseptable to diversion traffic the steam roads had. It's not surprising in that context that the interurban peak was so short lived, the highway did divert it.

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Posted by RME on Friday, September 16, 2016 1:41 PM

daveklepper
Certain things that are possible in USA Capitalism that are not approved under religious laws of any of the three monotheistic religions. There, one is not allowed to enter one's competitor's shop or turf (even across an alley) to take away one's competitor's clients.

You'd better look up "interfering with a business relationship" in the Commercial Code before you put too much credence in "USA Capitalism" condoning that.

... In particular, GM, manufacturing buses and cars, would have been prohibited from buying New York Railways (streetcars) in 1926, and on the basis of that success and conversion to buses in 1935-1936, forming National City Lines with Firestone and Texaco. This was not a conspiracy, just sharp business practice. But unethical according to religious law.

Nothing 'sharp' or 'unethical' about it.  A 'streetcar' franchise has the responsibility of moving people from one place to another.  Should a better, or more efficient, or more flexible, or less irritating form of transportation become available ... or, in the case of strapped-for-cash streetcar lines with perennially little capital-improvement money, become provided by a partner with deeper pockets ... where is the perceived harm in adopting it?

The 'evil' for which GM was tried was, if I remember correctly, sweetheart deals that required more-expensive 'dealer' rates on spare parts and equipment with the official GM brand.  That's a very different thing than observing that monocoque, V-drive diesel buses had remarkably many advantages over most streetcars as they existed in the late '30s and afterward, especially where deferred maintenance of the stranded cost of all the infrastructure was a factor, or where any substantial expansion or rerouting of service patterns was contemplated.  If I remember correctly, EMD had a somewhat similar approach for parts for quite some time, and didn't there have to be some legal action to open the field up to aftermarket providers?

In my opinion, the real thing that killed so many of the streetcar companies was not exactly automobile improvements, or the increase in 'good roads' to accommodate them, let alone an "Ignition"-style conspiracy of the oil, rubber, steel, and so forth interests with the automobile manufacturer/dealer combines.  What did it was the combination of establishing 'new car every year' social preferences, combined with decreasing cost for the newer and better models (as I believe was typical even into the 1930s) and better and better reliability ... this being substantially before the Vance Packard 'planned product obsolescence' business hit full swing in the postwar period (a good, if blood-pressure-raising, reference there being 'The Insolent Chariots').

The problem was what happened to all those reliable cars entering the 'used' market, at essentially fire-sale pricing, and how that in turn enabled many working or 'lower-middle-class' families to own or share automobiles.  THOSE people were much more likely to be streetcar customers by the end of the 1920s.

I do concur that forcing power companies to divest themselves of electric railroads was shortsighted and precisely wrong when factoring in the unintended consequences.  Very few entities who were NOT regulated electrical-generating utilities would find electric railroads of any particular sort an attractive long-term investment; your basic street railway company with heavy stranded costs in DC power generation would have increasingly little competitive advantage either in selling that power to alternative users or to compete with diesel bus economies ... once the capital costs of the diesel buses had been accommodated.  And it is precisely the making of the capital costing more 'affordable' that Sloan's GM could offer a combine like NCL...

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Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, September 16, 2016 1:48 PM

When I was working at GM the GM Executives also said the NCL story was largely a myth and if GM was that on top of things as far as spotting a market  or opportunity they would still be a very large company, dominating the market.  

I personally think NCL was a conspiracy theory of trail lawyers as a money making venture for their firms in the court system.   Railfans buy into it in part because it gives them part of an out in saying the systems might still be around today......if.....so and so.

Fact is most newspapers were openly hostile to Interurbans around the period of their demise and it had an impact on ridership and public support........saying many were unsafe and lobbying the government to shut them down or force costly upgrades on them.    Milwaukee's Speedrail (remnants of the TMER & L) after the NRHS or NMRA crash near Hawley road in Milwaukee is a case in point.

I can explain it better in todays politically charged language.    The Liberals played a major role in tearing out the streetcar with their screams of safety hazzard and old way of travel that is not modern back in the day and they are still searching for an absolution for their heavy participation in the running of street car companies out of business back then.

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, September 17, 2016 2:30 PM

Again, it was not a conspiracy.  I do not have the resources to do the research at the present time.  But the fact is that GM did have a meeting on how to expand its market, and the immediate result was the purchase of Chicago Motor Coach, Fifth Avenue Coach Company, and New York Railways.   Having successfully brought those under its wing (although it took nine years for GM to be confident that its Yellow Coach buses would be so superior to the rather obsolete streeetcars NY Railways was operating, for the conversion process in New York), all it needed was a simple phonecall from Alfred Sloan to the Fitzgeralds to start the formation of NCL.  In the late 30's Boston Elevated and SF's MUNI were buying White buses.  Detroit's Dept. of Street Railways was buying Ford Transit buses.  The economies of diesel buses started in 1940 or 1941, and the first GM diesel buses went to provide transportation at Army, Navy, and Marine bases, with only a few going to public transit systems until after the war.

Some of the NY publc saw the gasoline GM buses as an improvement over the streetcars, but some felt that the PCCs being introduced into Brooklyn, those that had the opportunity to ride them, were vastly superior.  And those that never had that opportunity did have a comparison with some of the lightweight homemade Third Avenue streetcars (really 1920's technology in the 1930's), and Third Avenue did report  a rise ridership in their Third and Amsterdam Line when NY Railways converted the Lexington and Lenox Line to buses.  But after the New York Railways to New York Omnimbus conversions, it was really Mayor LaGuardia (with Sydney Bingham), not GM, that forced the rest of the conversions in New York City.  

Again, my understanding is that the fine was in connection with excluding other bus manufacturers.  If there was a spare parts issue, that was in addition.  I was President of the NYC-based Electric Railroaders Association, in the 1970's for two years, and it ws during that time that one of the members reported on his research.

Concerning ethics, recently I did receive a report on a Beth Din (Jewish Court of Three Rabbis) on a case where a local candy shop protested the opening, by another Orthodox Jew) of a bake shop directly across the street, complaining about loss of business.  The Beth Din concluded that while there was loss of businness, this was because now customers had a choice of both low-scale and high-scale sweet products and that the offering of the two shops were enough different that Jewish economic law was not violated.

I should also point out that no Rabbis (nor Priests or Ministers in my knowlege) have wishes to replace any civil law with religious law, but simply wish to apply religious law when both parties agree.  An exception of course, is the recent government attempt to force religious charity health services to violate their religious principles by dispensing products and/or performing specific services.

I also worked for GM, at Electro-Motive, summer 1952.  Admittadly the "car-culture" was a bit lower there, but GM's involvement and motivation in NCL's formation was discusssed among us railfan employees and never denied. Note the GM executive's use of the word "largely." Only the idea that it was a conspiracy was denied.

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