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Bring Back the Redcars?

10:00 AM PDT on September 6, 2006

Red Car

The Times reports that:

a new study that will probably reinvigorate a decades-old debate about mass transit in Los Angeles concludes that bringing back streetcars to downtown would spur more development and attract riders. It also contends that trolleys could peaceably share the road with cars.

The report, expected to be released this week by the Community Redevelopment Agency, also makes another point: Reintroduced trolleys have met with success in many other cities, and there's no reason they can't in Los Angeles.

USC's Library drops the Red Car history knowledge:

The first streetcar system in L.A. dates back to 1874, when Judge Robert M. Widney convinced his neighbors in the vicinity of Third and Hill Streets (then considered the sticks) that they needed a convenient way to get to the business section of the city. A single-track railroad stretched for 2 1/2 miles from the Mission Plaza down Main and Spring Streets to Sixth Street. Subsequent horse-drawn streetcar systems were developed in other growing communities like Pasadena, Ontatrio, Santa Monica, and San Bernardino. A portion of the L.A. system along Pico Street was electrified in 1887, and expanded in 1890. Starting in 1894 Moses Sherman and Eli Clark began acquiring the various cities' horse-car and cablecar systems, eventually forming the Los Angeles Consolidated Electric Railway. One of the new company's first project was the University Line, which included the University of Southern California. Until this time, all the systems had operated within cities. But in 1895 the first intercity line opened; an electric rail line that linked Pasadena and Los Angeles. This intercity line was such a huge success that others soon followed: by 1896 tracks ran from Los Angeles through what would one day be Beverly Hills, Hollywood to Santa Monica.

So should Los Angeles bring back the Red Cars? We're in favor of anything which makes the city easier to use, and while personal transport is a big part of the Taco Lifestyle and a must for exploring Los Angeles, mass transit options (smart ones) need to be increased to facilitiate less traffic, less pollution, and easier ways to navigate the city.

Photo from the USC Library

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