TIMEPOINTS VOL 17 NO 12 December, 1959
THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TRACTION REVIEW
END OF AN ERA
By Kenneth Harrison
At midnight on December 31, 1959, what I like to think of as a very happy era must come to an end. The era, which is thus important, is the end of three very happy years serving you as president. Rather than bore you with sesquipedalia verba and detailed statistics, I just which to take the next few moments of your time to recall some of the activities that have transpired in the last three years.
Perhaps the most notable of actions taken by the Board of Directors was the final decision to absolve us of any connection with the Electric Railroaders’ Association, which had been the original basis for the founding of this organization. Those of us who were involved with this action feel that the essentially regional atmosphere of our membership dictated it. We believe this was the proper course for the club’s own good.
Other notable achievements include the establishment of unusually fine relations with the officials of the local transit properties. In the course of the past few years, relations along these lines have steadily improved and these officials have come to recognize the importance of our existence, even to the degree of enlisting our aid in certain projects vital to their existence.
In the last few years, the Association has continued to strengthen its support of the Orange Empire Trolley Museum, and owing to its existence has stepped out of the museum field to let specialists take over.
While the opportunity to create the unusual in the way of excursions would appear to be dwindling, we built up one of the largest treasuries known in the traction club circle. We set precedents for our future participation in transit changes (I won’t call them improvements) and have even been given recognition on television and in the newspapers. Our annual efforts in the California Hobby Show have placed the club before the public not as a group of paranoid fanatics, but rather as a group of people seriously interested in the study of the electric railway.
Now, after three pleasurable years, I have moved from Southern California and must therefore confine my association to the co-editorship of TIMEPOINTS and to occasional visits to Southern California to see the friends I’ve made over the years.
It is my earnest hope to see the membership continue to support the club and the new officers that will serve us. My activities are now tending towards the publication of an all-time McGraw Electric Railway List and other activities referred to by some as “contemplative rail fanning.” It is my hope that with the help of Larry Veysey, a TIMEPOINTS will be provided of which the members can well be proud.
Again, I thank you for your cooperation and hope that our association will not stop here.
TRANSIT NEWS (LOCAL)
PE-SP MAY KILL LONG BEACH LINE
LAMTA has all but officially indicated its own desire to retain and improve electric rail service on its last remaining interurban route, between Los Angeles and Long Beach.
On November 10, Fred Dean of the Authority’s executive staff told the Long Beach City Bureau of Franchises that the Authority has no intention of abandoning the rail line.
On November 17, the LAMTA Board of Directors officially voted another ninety-day extension of the rental agreement with Pacific Electric, the Southern Pacific subsidiary that still owns the tracks between Hooper Ave. and Willow St.
This extension was voted on by the recommendation of Ernest Gerlach, representative of Cloverdale & Colpitts, consulting engineers to LAMTA. Gerlach, who also represents the powerful interests of the bondholders, recommended that rail service be continued, that a longer lease with PE be negotiated, and that new equipment be acquired immediately to end the necessity of having replacement parts custom-made for the “Blimps” at South Park Shops of former Los Angeles Railway. Gerlach also publicly suggested that it might well be feasible to convert the postwar PCC cars now in service on narrow-gauge line ‘P’ to standard-gauge operation on the Long Beach tracks.
Lease of the Long Beach rails from Pacific Electric now terminates January 31, 1960. Despite the now obvious desire of LAMTA to maintain and improve service, the fate of the line still depends on the willingness of PE-SP to allow continued long-term rail passenger service over their facilities. PE-SP has been notoriously hostile toward such operations in the past and may confidently be expected to insist upon a grossly inflated price for the privilege, at the very least.
If LAMTA is unable to come to terms with PE-SP on a reasonable basis, it is the Authority’s intention to substitute bus service within six months.
MTA’S GROWING PAINS
Received in the mail this week from LAMTA was a copy of the financial report for October 1959. This report shows what appears to be a glowing picture of MTA finances. October showed an excess of revenues over expenses of $499,703. What is interesting, however, and what makes this picture a little darker is the fact that after payment of bond debt service of $241,215, there was a deficit of $23,676 necessary to meet the requirements of the Depreciation Reserve Fund. This deficiency has to be met from the previous month’s revenues.
Now, those of us who have kept up with the activities of the MTA are aware of the progress in economy that the management has made. But costs do continue to rise, and if and when the operators are offered a wage settlement that they will accept, costs are going to rise totally out of proportion to the revenues. In October, for instance, wages alone were a whopping $2,001,584, or almost 57% of the total revenue. The total expense for the month was $3,027,342, or almost 86% of income. These are expenses that just cannot be lowered short of the cancellation of insurance or the firing of numbers of employees.
For the first ten months of 1959, MTA revenues were $34,072,770, or $632,270 more than the budget. Ere this appear a rosy picture, operating expenses were $28,828,469, or $923,969 more than the budgets. Again, just in the past experience of the federal government itself, budgets are little more than gauges of loss.
In mid-morning of November 2, the nine remaining 1800s which had just concluded duties on the Watts local line were taken in three three-car trains to Morgan Yard, Long Beach, where they sit in temporary storage. (1812, however, is now at Fairbanks Yard.) No disposition was to be made at least until January.
Angel’s Flight Railway increased its commuter fare rates slightly on December 14. But LAMTA will not announce any increased fares until next year, when new wage rates are definitely determined.
END OF C&C
On December 31, LAMTA’s engineering arrangements with Cloverdale & Colpitts, a New York firm engaged to undertake preliminary rapid transit surveys, will be terminated. These surveys are completed and LAMTA has been listening to a steady stream of sundry ideas for the design of rapid transit equipment, involving every variant from conventional streetcars on elevated tracks to monorail. The engineering firm engaged by LAMTA for these design studies has promised to bend an ear to every proposal, no matter how odd. As a result, it has been deluged, and such standby names as the Devino Duoplane (promoted by Devino since 1911) have again been in the news.
WATTS LINE IS ABANDONED
At 1:29 am on Monday, November 2, 1959 the last local streetcar (1802) left 6th and Main Sts. Station for Watts. Thereafter the line was replaced by an extension of Sierra Vista bus 92 via Main St.
Cars 1802-1807 toured the Long Beach line on an excursion, November 1st.
Thus November 1st was the last full day of operation for the famous Four Track system of the Pacific Electric Railway between Los Angeles and Watts.
AFTERMATHS OF THE WATTS ABANDONMENT
Los Angeles County Supervisors who attempted to sue the Transit Authority for adding to smog problems by substituting busses for Watts rail cars were advised, recently, by their attorney that the Authority, as a state agency, is not subject to such a suit.
Atkinson Transportation Company, a private bus line, sued LAMTA for loss of business due to competition from the new route of the Watts busses. By curious coincidence, the amount of the suit was exactly the same as the price for which Atkinson is willing to sell out to MTA!
When Atkinson maintained that the new bus line encroached upon its own operations, LAMTA replied that, instead of luring passengers from Atkinson, its Watts line has lost business since the discontinuance of electric rail service.
The court rejected Atkinson’s plea for an injunction on November 10. This will be appealed, however, and the 1800s are being retained in the remote event that a legal emergency might force temporary revival of local rail cars to Watts.
MUSEUM WORTHY OF ARDENT SUPPORT
The third largest electric railway museum in the world now exists close at hand, south of Perris, California.
More than 25 historic streetcars and interurban cars now sit on eight acres of land, firmly in the possession of Orange Empire Trolley Museum.
The museum is now on the verge of commencing active electric operation. It needs the ardent support of every electric railway enthusiast in the state, indeed in the nation.
But particularly ought those of us who are located within conveniently close access to the Perris property to take a sustained and serious interest in its progress and development.
Weekend work parties offer good fellowship as well as a refreshing change from urban routines.
A few people have been donating enormous amounts of time and money into this project. Although response to appeals for labor and for money have been gratifying in the past, and indeed have been much more general throughout the region than have similar appeals by other equipment groups elsewhere, all that has been done and is being done is not enough.
Tremendous amounts of labor are required during the next several years for basic expansion, construction of facilities, and maintenance of vehicles.
If you have not yet joined Orange Empire at the full dollar-per-month rate, we strongly encourage you to do so now.
At the present moment, a particularly worthy additional campaign is under way.
This is the well-known effort to secure, at the cost of approximately $800 (delivered) a representative of the finest suburban cars ever constructed in the United States: the Pacific Electric 600 class.
Every railfan in Southern California ought seriously to consider giving from one to five dollars (or more) toward this exceptionally necessary cause. Failure to obtain such a car, with its long local associations, would be unthinkable!
What is necessary is mass participation in small amounts. So--join Orange Empire if you haven’t joined; contribute to the saving of the PE 600-5050-1800, if you haven’t yet contributed.
* * * * *
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME By L.R. Veysey
The ending of a decade makes it appropriate to stop for a moment in the attempt to take a longer view.
What have the 1950s been like for the railfan? What will the 1960s bring?
The 1950s were probably the final decade during which railfan activity would center about a continual succession of “last runs.” Here and there a few systems linger on the brink of abandonment. But much of what remains is “safe” until late in the decade to come.
Of course, very little is left.
But, here and there, separated by odd gaps of from 500 to 2000 miles are clustered the remnants of a dozen or so street railway systems.
Even more infrequent and scattered are the few encouraging evidences of new construction in the electric rapid transit field, which the 1950s also brought to light and which we can all hope will become the harbingers of an increasing trend.
Confining ourselves to the picture in California, what may we expect the 1960s to bring? For whatever they are worth, we offer the following predictions:
During ten years to come, all surface street railways in the state will be abandoned, including those both in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Actual rapid transit construction of some type will take place within the state, probably both in Los Angeles and in the Bay Area.
Finally, the last conventional interurban-type operation - to Long Beach - will disappear within a year, owing to the intransigence of the Southern Pacific Company. (If wrong, we shall rejoice.)
What will the effects of this total situation be upon the lives of those who are committed to street-railway-centered enjoyments?
In the first place, the fan trip, or excursion, will cease to be the characteristic railfan activity. Already with the near-demise of conventional cars throughout the state, these occasions are losing their charm. The PCC car is simply not worthy of such attention except on an annual or less frequent basic.
With the demise of conventional traction and the simplification or extinction of once-complex systems, opportunity for fresh collection “in the field” also greatly diminishes. Railfans will instead increasingly concentrate on cataloguing, organizing, and rounding out through purchases the materials, which they have obtained during the abandonment-strewn decade just passed.
The 1950s have already seen phenomenal progress in the museum field, and the 1960s should well prove to be the decade of unparalleled museum activity throughout the state. The time, money, and effort formerly marshaled for excursions, distant “last-runs”, and the like, will now pour increasingly into what is essentially a far more creative, if more demanding endeavor: the construction of a reality, tailor-made to fantasy.
Publication activities, already large scale, throughout the country as well as locally, will continue apace. Would projects as sumptuous as the recent 1960 interurban-photograph calendar offered by Pacific Railway Journal, or, on a higher plane, the newer publications in the Interurbans series have been possible ten years ago? The answer is no, for however fine some of those older publications were, in retrospect they seem only feeble beginnings.
Meetings will continue, of course, and may prove increasingly popular. They too have their place as substitutes for non-existent streetcar rides.
Marked by such enjoyable, if slightly differing, interest, the years will continue to pass. In 1970, those who can remember riding the Long Beach Line will smile indulgently upon the young newcomer who define the streetcar as the recently-abandoned PCC, even as we who rode Birneys on Edgeware Road think the newer generation--unable to imagine the route of the Oak Knoll cars--as incredibly young.
More and more we shall attempt to recall the exciting moments which recede in our memories into antiquity: the PE 950s turning into Hill Street Station; a Watts car sounding its gong insistently at an H3 on San Pedro St.; the motors of SN 1005 echoing exotically against the narrow walls of the tunnel east of Havens.
More and more we shall accept substitutes for these memories: The photograph of the car which, although we are loathe to admit this, we can barely remember having seen or ridden in actuality; the artificial experience of seeing a 5050 creep forward under sagging museum trolley wire, while we vainly try to imagine ourselves back on the Four Tracks.
These will be the experiences of our future as railfans. They must continue to be valuable ones. During the decades ahead we shall have the interesting tasks of providing, to ourselves and to the Great Outside World, that antiquarianism is a truly creative and constantly regenerative experience, not merely the psychosis of a handful of people who, fearing life in the present-day world, seek vainly to exile themselves among self-indulgent fantasies.
MISCELLANEOUS NEWS ITEMS
A TRIAD OF WORTHY PUBLICATIONS
All street railway enthusiasts must at times be concerned with the question of proper balance among the publications that they receive. Inasmuch as publications continually die and are born, as well as having their qualitative ups and downs, a periodic reassessment of the well-balanced library is in order.
We refer here not to occasional major feature publications, such as Interurbans, which are always eminently worthwhile, but rather to monthly journals devoted to the electric railway field.
Over the past couple of years, we have found a particular attractive combination of monthly publications to be the following:
(1) TIMEPOINTS, of course, for the local California news and features.
(2) ERA HEADLIGHTS, which despite its necessary tardiness in presenting news, combines comprehensiveness of world coverage with a regular diet of photographs and interesting features, as well as more thorough accounts of news than are available elsewhere.
(3) RAILWAY REVIEW, which offers nationwide coverage of electric railways with unparalleled speed and also stresses rapid transit news. Only the Railway Review is automatically sent by first-class mail to all subscribers this assuring that the material is always fresh.
Timepoints provides local concentration; Headlights provides a thorough, illustrated worldwide documentary record month by month; Railway Review provides great speed and a refreshing present and future-mindedness. Taken together, these three publications will do much toward banishing ignorance from your domicile.
ORANGE EMPIRE MUSEUM NEWS By James Walker
OET has just issued a handsome Annual Report of its activities for 1958-59.
Announcement of very worth car-saving activity is contained on page 2 of this issue.
A special train (AT&SF) brought over 300 guests to the Museum on November 15. Three-dozen horseless carriages (antique automobiles) were also on hand, and the crowd enjoyed a gigantic barbecue seated within the many streetcars. The Railway Historical Society of San Diego sponsored the excursion.
Paul Dieges has taken over as 1959-60 president of the museum.
A thousand feet of overhead trolley is on order and delivery is expected by the end of the year.
The body of LARY experimental low-level car 2501 has arrived at the museum, purchased by Betty Lihner. It had been on the Terminal Island heap since 1955.
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA NEWS . . . L Veysey
“Magic Carpet” car 1004 was scrapped in November, leaving only 1003 operable. On December 13, Bay Area Electric Railroad Assn. toured the system in 1003.
“Iron monster” 170, retained for possible use as a line car, has been junked.
Muni expects a slightly smaller deficit than last year.
EASTERN NEWS . . . . . . . . . .Robert L. Abrams
The process of destroying the street railway system in Washington, D.C., will commence on January 3, when DCTS abandons lines 20 (Cabin John), 30 (Friendship Heights), and 70-72-74 (Georgia Av.). The rest of the system is expected to follow just as rapidly as possible, perhaps within a year or a year and a half.
It is expected that the Grand Ave. Line in St. Lewis and the Oakwood line in Toronto will be abandoned during January.
Finally among January abandonments unconfirmed reports state that Johnston Traction Co. (Pennsylvania) will discontinue all its streetcar service on January 11. Busses rather than trackless trolleys may replace them permanently on the Roxbury, Cooperdale, and Ferndale lines, which trolley coaches will avoid, instead exclusively serving Franklin and Morrellville.
The Red Arrow trolley lines (Philadelphia Suburban Transportation) are not in immediate danger; they may remain as is for between one and ten years.
The Broad St. subway in Philadelphia will be extended further south, and work on this major project is to begin in 1960. An entirely new line, branching off North Broad Street to serve the N.E. part of the city, has reached the advanced stages of planning. Construction on this major route will begin in 1963.
As of November 1, 1959, the old 4000-class steel elevated cars in Chicago are still in service on all rapid transit routes there except North-South, at least in rush hours.
PCC-type rapid transit cars were running on all lines except Lake and Evanston. The North-South line requires 516 cars; West-Northwest takes 258, Lake 166, Ravenswood 150, and Evanston, 74. (Data from Railway Review.)
A subway for downtown Cleveland is again being seriously considered.
All over the nation, the trend seems steadily to indicate increased riding on rail rapid transit lines and continued slow decreases in patronage on surface bus transportation.
Pittsburgh was bracing itself for an expected strike on December 8 (J. Baxter)
MORE EASTERN NEWS . . . . . . Jim Walker
In Washington, DCTS has applied for a 25 cents fare. (So has PTC --R.L.A.)
Colonel Marrion Mills, one-time San Francisco transit expert, spoke in Vancouver recently contending that monorail was the only solution for rapid transit in cities of Vancouver’s size.
Travel on the Broad St. Subway in Philadelphia has been on the upswing this past summer.
NYCTA announced a deficit of over $2 million for July-September.
Edward Dana, retired General Manger of Boston MTA, has been elected trustee of the Seashore trolley museum.
Rumors are again circulating that CA&E will soon resume, this time only as far as Wheaton, under CTA aegis. We remain skeptical till we hear more.
CLUB NEWS . . . . . . . . . Ken Harrison
Two Excursions Proposed
At the November meeting of the Board of Directors, it was decided to sponsor two excursions. Of course, many members were aware of the efforts to preserve two of the so-called 1800s of Los Angeles MTA, known to older railfans as “600-class cars - the finest electric railway vehicle ever created.” Thru the cooperation of the MTA, there will be a two-car train of these cars run sometime in 1960. The pending Atkinson lawsuit will determine the exact date.
The other excursion will be of interest to those who follow the narrow-gauge lines. The premature arrival of a P-3 painted green and green has moved us to sponsor a trip on this car, the 3148. Watch for Excursion Committee announcements regarding these trips.
Another Excursion Question
How many members would be interested in another railfan trip to San Francisco? While there is not too much of unusual quality now available in the Bay Area, the trip might be made better by the addition of a side trip to the Pacific Coast Aggregate narrow-gauge line in Davenport near Santa Cruz. The immediate reason of course is the apparent uncertainty of the future of this unique industrial operation.
New Program Policy Adopted
Following the suggestion of the Vice President, responsibility for monthly meeting programs will be passed around to the various local members so that each meeting will have some different entertainment.
New By-Laws Being Drafted
At the November Board meeting, another important item of business was the presentation by the President of a new By-Laws draft. The new draft was read to the Board and copies were given to the Board members for suggestions on revisions. These will be presented at the December Board meeting and when a final draft is agreed upon, the new By-Laws will be submitted to the members. Any suggestions will be welcome.