Before TAP: The 1963 vision of smart-card fare collection and rapid transit for L.A.

Saturday marks one of the more interesting anniversaries in local transportation history.  Forty-nine years ago this weekend, C.M. Gilliss, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority, outlined his plan for comprehensive rapid transit in L.A. at the downtown Statler-Hilton Hotel.

His vision included individually-coded credit cards, “magic-eye” fare computers, rail cars with 1960s tailfins bound for planned and soon-to-be-built Century City, and a system reaching all the way to Westwood…to be completed by January, 1968.

The fascinating story, complete with rail station and other futuristic renderings, unfolds on the Metro Library’s Primary Resources blog.

L.A. had double-decker buses? Looking back at the history of Wilshire Boulevard

Wilshire Boulevard double-decker bus, 1938

Our extensive coverage of the Westside Subway Extension and Bus Rapid Transit for Wilshire Boulevard this year provides us with an opportunity to revisit Wilshire of days gone by.

The Metro Library Primary Resources blog highlights several items of interest from the past, including 1920s and ’30s double-decker bus service, holiday celebrations and historic images from the USC and UCLA digital libraries.

There’s much to be discovered along one of L.A.’s most famous streets, so head on over to Primary Resources to learn more.


Look at that! Digging into Metro's photo archive treasure trove

A streetcar passes the Southwest Museum and Mt. Washington in 1920. Click above to visit the Metro Libarary's photostream on Flickr.

Los Angeles Railway "motormanettes" (circa 1942)Did you know that the Metro Transportation Library & Archives Flickr photo site has grown to more than 7,700 digital images?The collection of local area photographs dating back to the 1880s has been online for just over 3 years, and this week it surpassed 1.5 million views.

Did you know that the Metro Transportation Library & Archive’s Flickr photo site has grown to more than 7,700 digital images?

The collection of local area photographs dating back to the 1880s has been online for just over 3 years, and this week it surpassed 1.5 million views. That reinforces what we’ve long known about Los Angeles transit and transportation — people who love Los Angeles also want to see what used to be, what could have been, and what is coming around the corner (or down the tracks) in the near future.

The Laurel Canyon trolley in 1910, a view of 3rd Street just before Angels Flight was built, what Hollywood might have looked like with overhead rail…

The Library’s Primary Resources blog takes a closer look at some of the fascinating but lesser-known images and collections on their Flickr site — one of the best resources around for researching an integral part of the past, present and future of Southern California.

Looking back at the Los Angeles mini-bus: the DASH predecessor rolled out 40 years ago this week

SCRTD Board Member (and Star Trek star) George Takei joins LA City Councilman Gilbert Lindsay at the Mini-Bus launch in 1971

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation DASH system logs 7 million passenger trips per year on five different lines downtown and another 27 throughout the city.

This innovative service got its start forty years ago this week when the Southern California Rapid Transit District launched a proto-DASH service under the name “Mini-Bus.”

It featured small buses with distinctive canopy tops, perimeter seating, and an orange-brown-white color scheme.

The complete story along with vintage photos can be found on the Metro Transportation Library’s Primary Resources blog.

The way they were: a fresh look at 1940s Los Angeles Railway streetcar images and specs


The Metro Transportation Library & Archive’s collection on Flickr now contains more than 7,500 historic images and continues to grow.

Numerous photographs from the Pacific Electric (“Red Car”) and Los Angeles Railway(“Yellow Car”) systems shed light on our transit history and what was once the largest streetcar system in the world.

This week, the Library & Archive takes a closer look at a 1940s-era Los Angeles Railway booklet containing not just historic photographs, but construction specs for nineteen different types of streetcars that rode the rails in central Los Angeles seventy years ago.

The entire story unfolds over at the Primary Resources blog, including links to the entire set of newly discovered photos and specifications.

Hollywood Bowl follow-up: What those people mover and moving sidewalk connector studies found

Proposed Westinghouse elevated people mover, 1988

Expanding on last week’s story on why there is no Red Line station at the Hollywood Bowl, the Metro Library continues its look at transit access to one of Los Angeles’ premier entertainment venues.

After plans proved a subway stop to be too challenging in terms of engineering, financing and ridership projections, the focus shifted to linking the Bowl to the Hollywood Highland Station via a connector.

Take a look at the six different alternatives considered for underground and elevated moving walkways and people movers over at the Library’s Primary Resources blog.

Los Angeles had…cable cars??

Cape Horn Viaduct, 1890

This week, the Metro Transportation Library and Archive takes us back 130 years to when cable cars were the mode of choice in our (then) very small town.

The cable car era lasted only about a decade, but the first transit system after horse-drawn cars is not well-known and the images from the Library’s collection are captivating.

You can read and see the story of Los Angeles’ forgotten cable cars on the Library’s Primary Resources blog.

Mapping Los Angeles transportation history, one photograph at a time

Metro’s Transportation Library & Archive has announced that it is a Global Launch Partner for Historypin.

Historypin is an exciting new tool that brings together people, their communities and their shared history through mapping photographs alongside the stories behind them and an interactive timeline.

This project has partnered with Google to use their extensive mapping tools and street view imagery to begin building a compelling interactive experience.

Readers who follow the Library’s activities may know that its 7,500+ online Flickr photo collection is enormously popular — it has been accessed more than 1.3 million times in less than three years online.

Now, Metro’s vast visual resources can be viewed in geographic and chronological context alongside images from other collections to tell the story of Los Angeles — in which transportation history plays a major role.

The full story is on the Library’s Primary Resources blog.

A Look back at 1940s rail and freeway plans yields some surprises

Los Angeles’ transit history often reveals something brand new: a map we never knew existed, an angle to a story that helps us connect the dots, or new information from the past that informs planning our future.

A closer look at competing transportation studies in 1948 turned up this hidden gem worthy of a double-take: the feeder routes for proposed rail lines running down freeway medians were referred to as “bus rapid transit.”

While the first bus rapid transit system was launched in Curitiba, Brazil in the early 1970s, plans for a local BRT were actually laid out a quarter century earlier…and more than 50 years before we launched Metro Rapid or the Orange Line.

The 1948 Rail Rapid Transit Now! campaign’s plan for building a comprehensive rail system in conjunction with freeway construction never materialized, but it set in motion other events in Los Angeles mobility for decades to come.

The full story can be found on the Primary Resources Blog produced by the Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

Approaching transportation research: It's all here at Metro's library

RTD’s“Street Fleet” motorcoaches that carried beach-goers to Santa Monica in 1974 were painted to look like submarines.

RTD’s“Street Fleet” motorcoaches that carried beach-goers to Santa Monica in 1974 were painted to look like submarines.

June got off to a splashy start in 1974 when Metro’s predecessor agency Southern California Rapid Transit District launched its “Street Fleet” bus service to carry people to the Santa Monica beaches.

Summer beach riders were reminded that they were allowed to bring their surfboards directly onto the buses, writes Metro’s digital resources librarian Kenn Bicknell in the Primary Resources blog.

Even more revolutionary, a 1976 ballot initiative included bicycle and surfboard storage on board a limited number of rail cars of a proposed rapid transit system that would serve 43 cities in Los Angeles County.

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