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Los Angeles - December 2001

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Los Angeles — Nostalgia Train

Rail Transit Online - December, 2001

A Los Angeles-area congresswoman has secured $100,000 to pay for a feasibility study into return of Pacific Electric streetcars to downtown.  Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-East L.A.) said the money is part of a multi-project funding package in the Veterans Affairs-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill designed to “…stimulate economic development and revitalization in downtown Los Angeles, Boyle Heights and Southeast Los Angeles County.” The bill was signed by President Bush on Nov. 26.  The project would be built in two phases, the first of which would be 8.9 miles long and feature several routes. They would act as a comprehensive circulator system, connecting virtually every downtown commercial, cultural, education, entertainment and government venue from Dodger stadium on the north to the University of Southern California campus on the south. “Making downtown Los Angeles the regional center of activity that it once was is one of my top priorities,” Roybal-Allard stated. “I remember with great fondness taking the Red Car to downtown, when it was the cultural, social and business epicenter of Los Angeles, where you could do your shopping, banking, dining and socializing. I am therefore personally delighted this funding will allow us to study the viability of reviving the Red Car.” 

 The project is being promoted by a private group, Los Angeles Red Car Concept (LARC), but according to a spokesman in Roybal-Allard’s office, the study would probably be carried out by a consultant under the supervision of the city Department of Transportation. The estimated cost is $350,000, and Roybal-Allard’s spokesman said the congresswoman hopes the federal contribution will spark matching grants from local governments and private sources. LARC also wants to create a Red Car Park on the site of the former Toluca Yard at the entrance to the mile-long tunnel leading to the downtown Subway Terminal, a facility that still exists but cannot be restored for transit use. The now vacant yard area would be landscaped and feature restored streetcars from both the PE and Los Angeles Transit Lines, perhaps with a small museum and gift shop.  It would be a memorial to what was arguably the best U.S. mass transit system of its type, and one that many experts believe could have been the basis for a modern light rail network had it not been discarded.


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