Seattle purchased its transit system from Stone & Webster in 1919, but there was never enough money for maintenance or improvements and service declined as the system aged. In 1937, a plan to replace streetcars with buses was defeated at the polls, but the city still struggled for funds. Mayor John Dore was forced to seize nickel and dime fares to pay workers and to default on the loans owed Stone & Webster.
In 1939, the Resolution Trust Corporation, an agency of the U.S. Government, loaned Seattle $10.2 million to pay off the loans and to purchase diesel buses and trackless trolleys -- buses that ran on electric power from overhead wires. Streetcars were driven to scrap yards and rails were pulled up or paved over.