The Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT) was a transportation holding company formed in 1896 to acquire and consolidate transit facilities in Kings County, now Brooklyn, New York.
Within a decade, it had acquired virtually all of the rapid transit and streetcar operations in its target area. Though the BRT was the public face of the consolidated companies, it left it to the acquired companies or newly formed companies to carry out the actual operation of the system, to provide power and services for the system, and even to design and acquire rolling stock.
The elevated railroads were operated by a new corporation, the New York Consolidated Railroad. In 1913, the BRT, through another subsidiary, the New York Municipal Railway, signed the Dual Contracts with the City of New York, to construct and operate new subways and other rapid transit lines to be built or improved under these contratcs.
World War I and the attendant massive inflation associated with the war put New York transit operators in a difficult position, since their contracts with the City required a five_cent fare be charged, while inflation made the real value of the fare less than three cents in constant currency value. On November 1, 1918, the BRT suffered the Malbone Street Accident, the worst rapid transit train wreck worldwide to date, killing at least 93 people.
Though the claims from the wreck didn't, in themselves, force the company into bankruptcy, they further destabilized the financially struggling company, and the BRT became insolvent in 1919.
During its short history, the BRT rose to become a prominent corporation and industry leader in the railroad field, winning the prestigious single-letter symbol B on the New York Stock Exchange.
In 1923 the BRT was restructured and released from bankruptcy as the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation.