The Road of Good Service

The Illinois Traction Company took great pride in its excellent customer service. Its motto was "The Road of Good Service." It strove to provide excellent customer care, unmatched safety, and flair employment practices from the top down.

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The crew above served aboard President William Howard Taft's special car. Those in white traveled with the President, while those in black were ITS porters.

Not an Equal Road

According to all available evidence, the Illinois Traction Company followed the same race-defined hiring practices as other companies in northern states at the time.

African American staff members were restricted to the job of porter, red cap, or freight worker.

The introduction of porters to interurban travel allowed passengers an additional level of service only seen in luxury Pullman cars on steam railroads.

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This staged promotional photo shows a traveling party on the rear observation car with the porter pulling up the step stool.

Illinois Traction porters rode aboard the interurbans and interacted with passengers. Porters also served as waiters and chefs for the parlor cars to which they were assigned. Porters were responsible for purchasing food and provisions, including bringing their own pots and pans. In turn, they were allowed to keep the revenues generated from their kitchen. 

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Parlor car service was discontinued on September 30, 1951, and with it, the position of porter.


Two Black chefs are seen peering from one of the presidential cars. One was quoted in the paper as saying they had enough ham, turkey, and roast beef that they would be serving it for weeks!

The Road of Good Service