Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council approved $352 million dedicated to rebuilding and maintaining LA’s streetcar system that existed between 1901 and 1963. The trolley line will be nowhere near as expansive as it was in its heyday, but it’s at least a start to a much-needed rail system in one of the largest cities in the country. The next step is to secure $75 million from the federal government, and then the city will begin to lay the tracks.
The trolley system was orchestrated by real estate tycoon Henry E. Huntington in 1901, and at its height there were more than 20 rail lines and 1,250 streetcars. Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Railway was a victim of the General Motors streetcar conspiracy in 1945, where General Motors and other companies bought up railway systems across the country with the purpose of removing them entirely. Rather than disappearing completely, many of the streetcar lines were replaced with buses. By 1963, all trolley bus lines and streetcars were replaced with diesel buses.
But the streetcars are coming back! After years of supporters fighting to have the streetcars reinstated, they have finally gotten their wish. The proposal is only for a single line that will run through 3 of downtown LA’s largest routes – Broadway, Hill, and Figueroa streets – but there is room for expansion. The city is even considering using wireless electric trolleys, similar to those in Bordeaux, France.
The line will open in 2016 and I’m really excited for LA! They probably have the largest traffic problem in the United States and this will definitely provide some relief for commuters. Even if it’s only one line, I’m sure more will be added once the city sees how successful the project is.
All info and images via Wikipedia and LA Times.