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Los Angeles: San Pedro Historic Red Car Line Launched With Flair

Light Rail Progress • July 2003

As a Dixieland band played for a crowd of hundreds waiting in line to ride, and popcorn was provided free for the munching, the Port of Los Angeles Waterfront Red Car Line in San Pedro opened for revenue operation with 1920s-era pizzazz on Saturday, 19 July 2003.

San Pedro Red Car Line mapThe new line, a resurrection of a small part of the former Pacific Electric (PE) interurban trolley system, is described in detail in our article Los Angeles: San Pedro "Waterfront Red Car" Project Nears Showtime This Month (July 2003). As our article relates, the trolley line is designed to link the "string of pearls" attractions along the waterfront via a 1.5-mile north-south alignment using an existing rail corridor, much of which is actually a former PE right-of-way. The initial route has 4 stations.

LA San Pedro Red Cars passingWith a fairly modest price tag of just $7 million ~ amounting to only about $4.7 million per mile ~ the system will operate with two new historic-replica electric interurban railcars, patterned after a 1909 PE Red Car design, plus a third car, PE No. 1058, restored from an actual 1907 PE car. For the inaugural day, PE replica No. 501 and restored car No. 1058 were on hand (the other replica car is expected to be ready for service in late August). The historic and nostalgic cars proved to be an enormous attraction, with crowds lining up for hours to take a ride. Reportedly, it was four hours before the lines began to dwindle.
[Photo: John Smatlak]

Already the strong public reception for the historic transit line has apparently sparked imterest in proceeding with expansion of the system. in her speech to the crowd, Councilwoman Janice Hahn mentioned that there's a good chance service will be extended south to Cabrillo Beach near the Aquarium.

This report in part adapted some material originally posted to the Trolleys-California online discussion list.

Updated 2003/07/21

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