Over on electric_vehicles_for_sale someone mentioned a documentary, Taken For A Ride, which is just as alarming and well researched as Who Killed the Electric Car. But TFaR is not so well known as WKtEC. I just watched the movie and ohmygosh.
Unfortunately the documentary seems to not be available through any normal purchasing means like going to a DVD store and buying a DVD. You can buy it through the Taken for a Ride home page, and you can watch it online. I've embedded the video below.
Taken for a Ride is an amazing documentary by Jim Kleina and Martha Olson that documents the efforts to derail mass transit in America. Ever wonder why the U.S. has the worst mass transportation system in the industrialized world? Using historical footage and investigative research, this film tells how GM fought to push freeways into the inner cities of America, and push public transportation out. For more information about this film, check out http://www.newday.com. This video was funded by the Independent Television Service. Support the work of this film by (a) using public transportation, (b) telling your elected representatives to dedicate more funding towards public transportation, and (c) purchase this video for your own collection.
There is a study guide on the website that makes for a good synopsis of the contents: http://www.newday.com/guides/takenforarideSG.html
The basic story is before WWII the U.S. and most other industrialized nations had excellent mass transit systems using electrically powered intra-city rail systems. Street Cars were the name then, today the phrase is "light rail". The street cars ran frequently and were very convenient. For example people glowingly talk about the LA Street Car systems (the Red Cars) and for example the sub-plot of Who Killed Roger Rabbit was the death of that very street car system to be replaced by highways.
The movie goes pretty deep into the history of General Motors and how they were behind the destruction of electric rail systems all across the U.S. Another resource for that same story is the book: Internal Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives. GM didn't kill the electric street car directly they worked through front companies that bought up the electric street car systems, and destroyed them.
A part of the story is the different choices made in the U.S. and other countries after WWII. In the U.S. the choice was made to destroy the street car system, and that led to huge costs all over the country in building the interstate highway system, in building intra-city highway systems, in destroying existing neighborhoods or farmland replacing it all with eyesore highways. One focus is the former Mayor Alioto of San Francisco who apparently fought against a demand from then-Gov. Reagan to build a freeway through the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Different stages of that fight are shown including some interestingly powerful testimony by him before Congress. To this day that freeway section was not done and anybody driving through San Francisco has to go onto city streets. It's inconvenient if you are trying to go elsewhere but hey he made a good point that San Francisco is a great city to stop in and enjoy. The same could be said for cities all across the country, but in the name of progress you've got city bypass highways that let people drive past city after city and in most cases city cores are dead because nobody goes there. Another attribute of San Francisco is they still have electric streetcars but most of them are in the shape of a city bus with rubber tires and power lines overhead which run with the rest of the traffic, rather than a street car with steel wheels on steel tracks in its own lane of traffic.
In Europe and Japan a different decision was made, to rebuild the street car systems and ensure their cities had multimodal traffic systems that preserved peoples ability to walk around. I've only seen a bit of this on trips to Brussels and in Prague but in both of those cities I was happily able to jump onto the street car systems (and subways) and zip around town with little trouble and able to get anywhere I wanted to go. Try that in most U.S. cities and you run into huge problems.
There are two books about the car industry which both use the phrase "Taken for a Ride" in the title but they don't seem to be associated with the movie.