Art of Transit: Angels Flight

Photo: Metro

Photo: Metro

With the 100-year-old “Olivet” funicular rail car in the background, John H. Welborne, President of the Angels Flight® Railway, looks on as Metro Communications Manager Mike Barnes makes final detail checks of a new mapcase installed at the base of Angels Flight on Hill Street. Metro installed the mapcase to provide riders and passersby with a display of the activity centers located near Angels Flight.

To promote the connectivity of “the shortest railway in the world” with Metro’s nearby bus and rail service, all Angels Flight® riders that provide a TAP card loaded with a daily, weekly or monthly pass can receive a 50% discount on Angels Flight fare (25 cents instead of 50 cents!). Angels Flight® is open every day from 6:45 a.m. until 10 p.m. To get there, take the Metro Red or Purple Line to Pershing Square Station and exit towards 4th Street, or hop on Metro Bus 2/302 or Rapid 794 to Hill/3rd. Find more routes and connections with Trip Planner.

14 replies

  1. Will there also be an attempt to clean the path from the LA Metro headhouse to Angel’s Flight?

    • Hi Explorer,

      Payment is taken at the top of the hill, and they have a TAP reader that will check to make sure the card contains a day/week/month pass.

      Anna Chen
      The Source, Writer

    • You’d have to ask that question to the management at Angels Flight. That’s the deal they worked out.

      Anna Chen
      The Source, Metro

  2. I am amazed how an 102 year old railway can go over this hill but 21st century technology has a problem in building a railway to do the same exact thing.

    Same thing in hilly places like the San Francisco Cable Cars, the trams in Lisbon, Portugal, and the Peak Tram in Hong Kong. They’ve built these over 100 years ago which are capable of going over and down steep hills, but all the technology was lost on how to build them now.

  3. @Daryl L

    You’ll notice all those trams (and Angels Flight) work by being tugged by a cable, which is a much different technology than say Metro’s Light Rail fleet. Steel wheel, self propelled trains have difficulty going up grades much higher than 8%

  4. Jonah,

    The Lisbon Tram 28 is a steel wheel on steel track electric rail vehicle and it manages to go up and down grades as steep as 13%.

    • What an adorable little tram!

      I’m no engineer, but my thought is that the longer modern LRV (especially if there are two cars linked together, i.e. on the Gold Line) would have trouble with steep grades, especially if we also want them to travel at certain speeds. I’m sure it can be done, just not conveniently enough to be feasible – at least for now. Feel free to prove me wrong though – is there footage of the modern trams in Lisbon climbing hills? (Love the juxtaposition of the old trams with the new, btw.)

      Anna Chen
      The Source, Metro

  5. Anna,

    For something newer, there’s the tram in Austria that is capable of handling 11% grades:

    The Saint-Gervais-Vallorcine Railway linking French and Swiss Alps has a grade of 10%:
    http://www.chamonix.com/images/mont-blanc-express.jpg

    The Allentown Light Rail in Pittsburgh is also capable of handling 10%:
    http://www.railfanwindow.com/gallery2/d/126937-2/DSC_1502a.jpg

    As well as the Sheffield Supertram in South Yorkshire, England:
    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8004/7685461708_1a7f54c79c_o.jpg

    A lot of interesting engineering facts on building railways in steep grades can be viewed at the University of Birmingham research paper 2011:
    http://www.imeche.org/docs/default-source/events/Felix_Schmid_Lecture.pdf

    By the looks of this, modern day engineering is capable of conquering grades over 8%. Would such a street car work in Downtown LA? Maybe. It’s worth looking into. If the Portuguese were able to make a steel wheel on steel rail possible over a century ago and modern day electric trams able to go over 10%, we could build one here in LA too.

    • Hi James,

      Thanks for sharing. All these trains look lovely and idyllic.

      Anna Chen
      The Source, Writer

  6. The Angels Flight cars control house and lower gate are 100 years old. The tracks and the cable are not.