Illinois at War, 1941-1945
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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With both rubber tires and gasoline in short supply due to military demands, civilians were urged to conserve on both by car pooling to and from work. Pleasure driving of any kind actually was banned from January 1943 until September of that year when public outrage caused this restriction to be lifted. The gasoline rationing system remained intact however with share-the-ride drivers receiving supplemental coupons.

Joint labor and management committees in industrial plants often organized their work forces into voluntary car pools and newspapers routinely carried free notices of those workers who were interested in sharing rides. Slogans such as "who rides alone rides with Hitler" encouraged participation. War plants frequently reserved the most convenient parking spaces for car poolers while relegating solo drivers to distant tainted lots.

Public transport increasingly was used as well. Many war plants employed three shifts a day, six days a week and there were not enough private automobiles, even those packed full with passengers, to do the job. Existing bus companies rehabilitated old vehicles and pressed them into service. Buses reduced leg room when they installed additional seating. Some added overhead straps for standing passengers. Independent operators attracted by substantial profits appeared. Too often their buses were cramped, too cold or hot, unsafe, and uninsured. Speeding and other reckless driving were not uncommon. In one recorded instance a cattle trailer was used to transport defense workers.

The virtues of walking and bicycling to and from work were acclaimed. But bikes were rationed beginning May 15, 1942. Their manufacture required scarce rubber and steel.

Points to Consider

Which two precious commodities could car pooling have helped conserve?

How could automobiles carrying full loads of passengers have helped in winning the war?

In the passenger car depicted what was the ratio of commuters wearing ties to those who were not? Why was this?

Why is car pooling encouraged today?

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