Sunday, September 7, 2008

Transit Proposals, Part Doo

Want more transit history? Wouldn't it be nice to see, I dunno, Staples or the Convention Center behind that monorail?

My Los Angeles Times article from May 1982 points out that our downtown would have developed differently if we'd had a mass-transit system directing traffic since 1925, when a real system was first proposed. Voters nixed the idea, though--no doubt influenced by the Times, who stood against it. Read more about that proposal here.

Less then a decade later, during the Depression, a very trimmed-down version was floated, with the hopes that the city and county could get federal funding to build it. That flopped too. The 1933 plan predicted ridership into the 1980s, when 1.7 million people (per the proposal) would take the rails downtown each day. Without any such system, the actual number of people coming to downtown Los Angeles in 1980 was 692,338--most in their own cars.

Expensive transit studies were also done in 1939, in 1945, and in 1954. That last study recommended subways and monorails connecting LA and Long Beach. It would have cost $165 million, but such figures aren't really helpful. The system wasn't built so it never overran its estimates, and we can't measure the efficiency of what wasn't there. Dang.

The same company--Cloverdale and Colpitts--conducted further transit surveys for Los Angeles in 1959 and 1962. I suspect they saw LA as more of a mark than a customer by then, don't you?

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