TIMEPOINTS                       VOL 17 NO 2             FEBRUARY, 1959



Feature Article

CALIFORNIA’S  FINEST  RAIL  TRANSIT      By Lazear Israel       Part III

Certainly the most obvious distinguishing characteristic, to the causal observer, of the postwar PCC car was the addition of standee windows. Standee windows were by no means a brand new idea, even for PCC cars.  One of the first PCC cars built, Brooklyn & Queens 1000 (the only PCC car body built by Clark Equipment Co., better known for PCC trucks ) had a form of standee window.  They were used in over 300 cars built by St. Louis in the early- and mid-1940's (St. Louis 1600-1799 and Capital Transit 1465-1589), but were not adopted as standard until the postwar design changes.


While on the subject of windows, the postwar cars introduced to Los Angeles had another window improvement that was already available as standard equipment when the first Los Angeles PCC’s were built.  This is the crank-operated, or roll-type, sash.


Another body improvement in the postwar cars was the provision of a plastic arm-rest below each side window.  This was an outgrowth of the redesign of the car side, making the necessary space available at that location.


The P-3's were the first heated cars on the Los Angeles Transit Lines.  The heating system utilizing energy developed in dynamic braking was a feature of standard PCC car design from the beginning.  However, it was   omitted from the earlier Los Angeles cars due to our mild climate.  The heating system in the postwar cars is an improved version of the original design.  Interestingly, San Francisco’s 1016-1040 do not have heaters!  When delivered, the LATL P-3's also had auxiliary cab heaters, but these were soon removed.


The dash lights on the fronts of the P-5's are a development of the 1940's incorporated in the standard postwar PCC specifications but not universally adopted.  Their purpose is to provide additional light around the front of the car and to permit oncoming motorists to distinguish the car from other single-headlight vehicles.


On the other hand, the marker lights on the backs of the P-3's were new only to Los Angeles.  Even the Brooklyn PCC’s,  the first production order built, had markers, although of an earlier and less satisfactory type (but more streamlined).  It has long puzzled this writer why LATL was never forced, either by the union or by public agencies, to install markers on their other PCC cars.  (As an operator for LATL, the editor was stopped by an LA policeman one evening, who told him that his “tail  lights” were out.  Upon being informed that the streetcar didn’t have tail lights, the astonished officer asked him what he did to avoid rear-end collision by motorists.  Your operator calmly replied that he avoided this problem by going faster than the autos!--Ed.)

These notes by no means cover all the features of the newest electric railway cars in Los Angeles and the finest in California.  There are many other items, both major and minor, that might be mentioned if space permitted.  However, the reader should now be aware of the significance of these cars which have faithfully served the people of Los Angeles for over ten years.


Unloading Dates for P-3's Upon Arrival in Los Angeles:


The P-3 PCC’s were shipped to LATL by St. Louis Car Co. via railroad flatcars.  Their destination was the company’s Vernon Yard where a spur of the Santa Fe Railway connected.  (This spur was removed about two years ago.)  The dates given here are the dates the cars were unloaded and operated under their own power for the first time; not the dates of arrival at Vernon Yard.  After unloading, all cars operated via the V and S lines to South Park Shops for servicing and cleaning.


9-10-48:   3126

9-20-48    3127                  




9-21-48:   3130

9-22-48:   3132


9-24-48:   3135


9-27-48:   3140




9-28-48:   3137


9-30-48:   3143

10-4-48:   3142 





10-5-48:   3148




10-8-48:   3152



10-11-48   3153




10-12-48:  3158



10-15-48:  3162

10-18-48:  3163

10-20-48:  3164


*Car numbers given in order of unloading where known.





Labor trouble is clouding the horizon of MTA; a situation, which has been on the point of boiling over ever since the Authority, came into being.


The latest instance was the decision of Division 1277 of the Amalgamated, representing the former LATL employees, to call for a strike to begin on January 26th at midnight.  The union claims a strike is justified because MTA “refuses to re-open contracts as provided under the law.”  MTA contends that they are legally barred from considering wage demands for a rate higher than operators of the other union (BRT) are now receiving.  Under the present setup, any one union of MTA receiving lower wages for the same work performed by another union of the Authority can request that negotiations be reopened for the purpose of adjustment.  This the Division 1277 has done, since their operators are making 2 cents an hour less than the $2.27 an hour the ex-MCL operators began making last December 1.


However, the Amalgamated is not asking for 2 cents an hour more, but 25 cents an hour more “in order to bring our wages up to the standards of other large cities such as San Francisco.”  In addition, Division 1277 is asking that MTA grant the former MCL employees 23 cents an hour more to bring their wages up to $2.50 an hour so that everyone on MTA will make the same rate.  This is considered a political move by the Brotherhood, which represents the ex-MCL employees, since the two unions are still involved in a jurisdiction dispute to represent all MTA operators.


After the union set the strike date, MTA lawyers went to court and filed an injunction against the union and prevented the strike from taking place.  An interesting side note was that the union planned to picket the entire operation of MTA.  This would have included the ex-MCL lines, which are BRT operated.  Local labor observers wonder whether or not BRT men would have honored the picket lines, especially since the two unions are still involved in a jurisdiction dispute.



By the time you read this, the Long Beach rail line should be operating “limited” trains once more.  A new schedule for the line, according to Mr. George F. Goehler, was expected to be in use by February 9th or 16th.

Mr. Goehler, who is Superintendent of Schedules and Statistics for MTA, informed us by letter that his department had recently “completed a very critical study of our operations that we have been able to make since December 8, 1958.”  He added, “It is very possible that we will schedule some limited trips.”


Another source in the department told us by phone that the December 8th timetable was a “mistake” because it did not provide “limited” train service.  The man who usually okays schedules before they are issued was ill at the time the new Long Beach table was prepared, so that the error occurred.  Our source stated that 55 percent of the patronage on the line originates north of Dominguez. As Compton is the major source of this patronage,  the department, therefore,  feels that these riders are entitled to “limited” train service.


He concluded by saying that the new schedule calls for three “limited” trips inbound in the morning and three outbound in the evening.  The “expresses” will be retained.  Local cars will operate to Long Beach instead of Dominguez Junction since crews must report to Long Beach in order to sign off.



A copy of the new Long Beach Timetable described above came into Timepoints few days ago.  As it turns out, three limited trips were added as announced, but one of the two express trains was cut from the service.

Other less significant changes concern the makeup of the schedule itself:  it is on green paper, and now features a route map on the back page (a feature used with bus tables for some time, but not previously made a part of rail schedules).  Also, the blimp and 5050 photo on the cover has given way to a view of surfers on the crest of a long swell which is reminiscent of Waikiki Beach rather than Long Beach.  (Our schedule computers believe that the surfers are making better time than the rail cars do in this timetable--Ed.)  However, the back page has the misplaced photo of the 5050, just below the map.  The photo of blimp 450 has disappeared just as thoroughly as the car itself did some months back.




Excerpts of Special Rule 11, effective 16 March 1953: ... Keys for business car No. 1299 are kept in Mechanical Foreman’s office at Fairbanks Yard.  Crews handling this car shall secure the keys form Mechanical Foreman’s office, and when storing the car shall return the keys to his office, and deliver time tables of this car to terminal foreman, who shall forward them promptly to the Schedule Bureau for custody ...Watts local cars carrying mail addressed to Store Department at Washington Blvd. & Long Beach Ave. shall place same in mail box provided at that point and shall at the same time pick up any mail which may be in the box



Following here are readings from car 5027.  This one, however, is a side sign from the car, and not its head sign.


Edendale - Atwater

Glendale - Burbank

Glendale & Burchett St.

Glendale - North Glendale

Hill St. - Venice Blvd.

Hill St. - Venice Blvd./San Vicente Blvd./to Olympic Blvd.

Hollywood Blvd. (And H.B./Fairfax Ave./Gardner St./La Brea Ave./Subway Terminal/West Hollywood/West Hollywood - Car House)



Santa Monica Blvd. (And SM Highland Ave./ST)


Venice Short Line (and VSL Limited)



The following is a head sign reading from a PE “Ten”, believed to be the 1033.   It is a North-South District sign, and the car it came from (in 1951) was not assigned to the Venice Short Line, as were most of the “Tens.”  These few cars were kept at Macy Street for Santa Anita Race Track specials.



ALHAMBRA - San Gabriel - Temple City



E L   M O N T E

REDONDO via Gardena

L O N G   B E A C H

L O S  A N G E L E S

LOS ANGELES via Dominguez

LOS ANGELES via Gardena






SAN PEDRO via Dominguez

S A N T A   A N I T A



(Collection of Ray Long)



The first meeting of 1959 started out with an auction, which raised $9.30 for the club.  Material from various private collections was donated.

Six new members were voted in: Warren Quon, Arnold Joseph, Jack McCartan, Robert McCormick, E. Everett Jones, and M.R. Terkelsen.  Of the six, five were former subscribers, most of which live out of the area.  Congratulations!

Highlights of the business session were the run-off vote for vice-president and election of three directors-at-large.  Norman Johnson won out over Lazear Israel by a vote of 32 to 23.  57 ballots were cast, of which two were void.

In a spirited contest the following were chosen as director-at-large for 1959: Ray Ballash, Ronald Longworth, and Robert Warr.

President Harrison reported that the Electric Railway Historical Association of Southern California [ERHA-SC] (which is to succeed the SC-ERA) has filed its incorporation papers with the state and has also filed for state tax exemption as a non-profit organization.

Entertainment for the meeting featured the Interurban Electric Railway; an excellent talk by secretary Ed Keitly on the history and operation of the system.



As of about the 10th of February, when this issue of Timepoints was mailed, the SC-ERA was still in existence, and had not yet been superseded by the newly formed Electric Railway Historical Association of Southern California (SC-ERHA).

The only reason for this delay is in receipt of the incorporation papers from the State of California, along with the tax exemption from the State Franchise Board.  These are expected any day.



Starting this month, and continuing through to the deadline on 1 April, the Division (and its successor ) must move three club-owned LATL streetcars from Travel Town to the operating museum site at Perris, California.  The cars concerned are Peter-Witt 2601, Standard 525, and converted Standard (type F) 1160.   Estimated costs for the move are pegged at $150 pr car--which is relatively cheap.

You, as an interested member or subscriber, are urged to send your donation NOW.  Your help is needed so that these cars will someday operate on the fastest growing museum in the nation.  Any amount you can spare will be greatly appreciated.


WE  TIP  OUR  HAT . . .

Our thanks to member Alan K. Weeks for the excellent printing and reproduction work he did on the Pacific Electric Eastern District timetables and the Los Angeles Railway map which were distributed to members over the last few months.

While we’re at it, we should mention that this is “bonus” material distributed only to members, and so, of course, this is the first our subscribers have head of it.  We are sorry that there are no more of the timetable left and the LARY map, which dates to 1932, can be purchased from the Orange Empire Trolley Museum in Perris, California.



A tentative excursion planned for February, with the soon-to-be-abandoned Second Street trackage as a highlight, was cancelled when MTA officials refused permission to operate over the affected trackage “because of warped rail on 2nd Street due to heavy rains.”  Although normally used only for emergency re-routings and fantrips, the Second Street portion is to be abandoned due to storm drain construction.



Dear Sir:

In reference to Mr. Styffe’s letter on page four of the December issue: ten of the 1927 Wason-built cars of the Springfield Street Railway Co. were purchased by the Virginia Electric & Power Company (Norfold Division) shortly prior to World War II.

On the VE&P they were renumbered in the 400 series as follows:

400 (557), 401(558), 402(561), 403(564), 404(566), 405(567), 406(568), 407(571), 408(580), and 409(581).  Ex-Springfield numbers are in parenthesis.

Just thought this might be of interest.

Leonard Foitl (Berwyn, Illinois)

*  *  *  *  *


Dear Sir:

Regarding the future of the PCC car, I feel it will be around for a long time yet, perhaps indefinitely.  There are more than 100 PCC lines in operation in North America, with no abandonment in sight, for the majority.  On the other hand, more than 100 bus companies quit in 1957, according to official American Transit Association figures.  Many others are on shaky grounds, and will probably fold.  Thousands of buses are overage and the companies have no money to buy new ones.

Incidentally, Mr. Matson of San Diego told me that, prior to 1949, the Spreckels interests which then owned San Diego Transit System had planned to keep PCC cars on lines 2, 7 and 11 indefinitely.  It was only the sale to pro-bus Jesse Haugh that changed all that.

Paul Meeuwenberg (La Mesa, California)


Dear Sir,

This is being written as a result of the story in your January issue entitled “Division Moves Towards Independence.”  The article contains two grossly erroneous statements, plus one statement, which although correct as to fact, doubtless gives your readers a diametrically opposite understanding due to the context.  First, this letter is a reply composed solely by the writer and does not reflect opinions of the ERA’s 1959 Executive Board or that of any of its members.  I am doing so because I am directly concerned with the subject matter as will be seen hereafter.

The motion made and seconded at our 1958 annual business meeting suggesting revisions in the By-Laws of ERA to place us on a non-divisional status was my own.  The report to members of that meeting stated that this motion was tabled.  This fact exemplifies the situation here in that (at least for the present) there is NOT a strong support for that concept.  In many parliaments, tabling a motion is tantamount to complete suppression.  (However, in ERA parliamentary procedure it means that this matter receives the status of old business at our next business meeting.)  If there had been “strong support” for it, it would not have been tabled.

The second erroneous statement is to the effect that unanswered correspondence here indicates “lack of interest in Division affairs”.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  We do have accumulated here some unanswered correspondence but the business involved in such correspondence has not been selected.  Answers are due in many other file categories besides division business.  Just as is the case with other railfan groups and societies everywhere, which are carried on by members’ spare time efforts, efficiency in some directions can get low.  (We can justly claim very high efficiency in our membership address and dues records and in the regular production and distribution of HEADLIGHTS.

The third statement, correct in fact, but possibly creating opposing thought, is the one claiming that national HQ feels “that divisions are more trouble than they are worth.”  The fact is true but the fault lies entirely with the divisions and not at all with ERA HQ.

We have been informed a number of times, either by members here in NY or in LA, that one of the weakness in our contract with SC-ERA was the fact that we did not require dues of all members and that we should have controlled the remitting of dues in a much stronger fashion.  At one time our By-Laws required that national ERA dues (as a prerequisite of divisional eligibility) be remitted before divisional dues.  Subsequently, at the request of SC-ERA, our By-Laws were changed to provide that active divisional membership (only) must be preceded by active national membership.

As to other divisions in the ERA:  Since its formation in 1934, ERA has fostered, formed, chartered, and recognized a total of 27 divisions, including two attempts each in three different cities.  Of those 27 divisions, only 6 remain today.  Of those six, one has initiated independence (SC-ERA), the members of another have scattered, another has given HQ here considerable difficult correspondence and “headaches” due to internal strife, and still another serves only as a front for a trolley museum.  Such is the outcome after good efforts, good intentions, and good wishes from here.  The reasons?  Perhaps the American trait of strong local provincialism; perhaps also the nature of the electric railway providing largely local area interest on the part of too many fans.

As railroad presidents are now saying to their complaining public: “We have not forsaken you---rather you have forsaken us.”  

Herman Rinke,

Office Manager, ERA HQ

New York, New York;

It is this intense local interest on the part of most of our active members that is the key reason for our move towards independence--Ed.



Former LATL track crews and equipment were observed doing maintenance work on yard trackage at Morgan Yard, the ex-MCL storage facility.

*  *  *  *  *

Washington Street Yard is now de-wired.  All MTA rail and overhead maintenance equipment based there is now at Watts.

*  *  *  *  *

All cars laying over in LA during the day now do so at 6th & Main on the viaduct instead of in the yard at 9th and Hooper as in the past.

*  *  *  *  *

Ex-LATL buses, still in yellow paint with some lettered LATL, are being used out of 6th & Main depot as extras on the Santa Anita Race Track service. In rail days the Northern District used to see such strangers to the area as blimps on these racetrack runs. (A new era is born?-Ed.)

*  *  *  *  *

Russell Moebius Assistant General Manager of Pacific Electric, retired after 38 years with the company.  John J. Suman, PE Auditor also retired after 48 years.

Mr. Suman was known to all by his signature, Jno. J. Suman, which he wrote all tied in.  The abbreviation of his first name was done because it was more efficient in signing.

*  *  *  *  *

Crane 9225 is being used to remove the rail from two of the four tracks in District One.  The other two will remain for layover of trippers.  (Later word indicates only one track will remain --Ed.)

*  *  *  *  *

MTA has repainted the switchman’s shack at Division 20--light green with white trim.  Also a new flagman’s shack has been built at Vernon & Long Beach as a result of an motorist demolishing the original one.  Also a toilet facility has been built at Manchester & Central for the “S” line operators.  Both the flagman’s shack and the “head” have been painted the MTA green and white.

*  *  *  *  *

Ex-LATL 3065 was involved in a serious accident on Sunday morning, January 18.  A new operator, his view obstructed by the dense fog, jumped the track at the curve into the loop at 10th Ave. and Jefferson on the “J” line.  The car demolished a hot dog stand in the center of the loop and injured a lady waiting in a telephone booth at the stand.  The trolley was not seriously damaged; the extent of damage being some dented metal and smashed windows (including the windshield).

*  *  *  *  *

Ex-LATL car 3028, the only PCC with its original molding, was seen at South Park Shops in late January.  It appeared to be going in for a major overhaul.

*  *  *  *  *

Latest word is that MTA has changed its mind and sold the San Pedro line overhead to National Metals.  However, MTA has removed the overhead from the Catalina Dock spur.  On this job both ex-PE and ex-LATL line crews worked together; the PE men taking down the wire and the LATL men reeling in the feeder.

*  *  *  *  *

Overhead on the old North District on San Pedro Street from the viaduct to 4th Street has been cut at both 5th & 6th Streets.  (Trolley coach line 3 operates on these two streets.)  This has left two separate islands of catenary between 4th and 5th, 5th and 6th.  It is believed the City of Los Angeles owns this wire, which is why MTA has not removed it.

*  *  *  *  *

NEW LIVERY REPORT:  Following cars have received new MTA colors since the last report: 3097, 3107, 3116, 3071, 3065, and 3104.

*  *  *  *  *

Crank handles with knobs are being installed to the small PCC’s.  This will make it much easier to turn the head signs on these cars.  The big PCC’s have always been so equipped.

*  *  *  *  *

New wire on the standard gauge division, when it is strung, will be 3.0 instead of 4.0.  The smaller wire will be easier to work with.  (Also, there is a lot less traffic now than a year ago--Ed.)

*  *  *  *  *

Line car 9224 has had its carbon-arc headlights replaced by “golden glow” lamps from a 400-class blimp.

*  *  *  *  *

The MTA, at its mid-January meeting, approved the abandonment of all trackage on 2nd Street from Broadway to Central.  A large storm drain project by the City of Los Angeles is responsible for the action.  It was pointed out that trackage on Central from 2nd to 7th will NOT be abandoned.  (This trackage will be useless unless a connection is made on Central from 2nd to 1st where the “P” line runs---always a possibility.  Its use would be as an emergency route.  At any rate, something to consider--Ed.)  

*  *  *  *  *

In conjunction with the reinstated limited train service on the Long Beach line, new dash signs have been delivered to Fairbanks shops.

*  *  *  *  *

Track work is in progress on the eastbound track on Pico just west of Vermont.  Over 300 feet of 90 pound rail has been replaced with 116 pound girder rail in this improvement.

*  *  *  *  *

SHERLOCK  HOLMES  DEPT:   Two-thirds of the trolley coaches have disappeared from the recesses of Division One.  Add to this the fact that ex-LATL electrical crews spent some two weeks working inside the substation at Santa Barbara and Hoover, and that Edison Company crews are putting the finishing touches on a new high line installation running from somewhere on east Vernon to this same substation, and finally that one of the trolley buses was seen being towed south (probably to South Park Shops); and you come up with the prediction that maybe the once-planned Alvarado Trolley Coach Line Number One may yet materialize.

*  *  *  *  *

Key system began scrapping their own units at the Oakland Terminal roundhouse yard in January.  Unit 119 was the first, with 102 and 150 following.  The state-owned units still remain intact.


The CA&E will began service this month on an experimental basis.  All cars now on the roster will be used, including the old wooden ones, some of which have been rebuilt for this service.  Also, some cars have been repainted.

*   *   *   *   *  

PITTSBURGH Railways will lose its West End car lines about May of this year.  No trolley ramps will be built at the ends of the new Fort Pitt Bridge, which will bring about the death of the rail lines.  Also, this move will give PRC a monetary settlement--which will be used to buy 29 GM buses (which have been ordered).

Also, the following shifts are planned: Rt 22 Crosstown from Manchester barn to Craft Ave barn; Rt 94 from Manchester to Homewood; and 82 Lincoln from Homewood to Craft Ave.

*   *   *   *   *  

No more DC TRANSIT trolleys are going through the shops at present while Chalk overhauls the 50 PCC’s he recently sold to Yugoslavia.  The first 8 cars were to have left last month.  It is reported that the cars will be numbered by DCT as they are processed, with rumor stating the numbers will be 1 through 50.

Chalk recently published full-page ads in Washington papers asking that drivers leave the curb lanes clear for buses.  Now the streetcars sport the following three line red block lettering over the rear windows: “THIS IS A TRANSIT LANE, PLEASE COOPERATE, KEEP OFF THE TRACKS.”  He also has placed “Fare 20 Cents” just behind the 2nd front door on each trolley in silver lettering.            

*   *   *   *   *  

BOSTON MTA is reconditioning the Dallas PCC’s it recently purchased.  One of the innovations was to remove half the cross-seats and replace them with longitudinal seating--at opposite ends of the car.

*   *   *   *   *  

ODDS  AND  ENDS .   .    .

Pennsylvania PUC suspends PTC fare hike for six months.  New fares would have been 25 cents, tokens 5 for one dollar as against 20 cents and 5 for 90 cents ... Birmingham (Ala) converts all trolley bus lines to motor coaches ... CTS Rapid West Side Extension rising up: 33 percent rise on West Side and 24 percent rise on entire rapid line.  Daily passengers at four stations shows 40.4 per cent increase over same time a year previous.  This heavier riding causes CTS to use all but 4 of its 88 cars in rush hour service. ---Passenger Transport (Jim Walker). 

*   *   *   *   *  

CHICAGO:  National City Lines enters management consulting field with new subsidiary, National City Management Co.

PHILADELPHIA:   PTC seeks bids on 270 new subway-elevated cars.  The new units will replace 315 older cars now in service between 69th St. and Bridge St.

BOSTON:   Following the lead of Chicago, a report of the Old Colony Area Transportation Commission suggests having rapid transit tracks on the center mall of new expressways.  The report stated, “Expressways are a necessary part of the traffic system of a modern metropolitan area, but they are not a substitute for electric rapid transit lines in the metropolitan Boston Area.”

NEW YORK:   NYCTA has approved a 6 million dollar plan for modernization and relocation of the Brooklyn Bridge station of the IRT East Side line.  The station will be modified to accommodate ten-car trains.  Another improvement for the East Side line will be the purchase of 650 new cars.

TORONTO: Allan Lamport has resigned as chairman of the TTC, he will continue as a member of the board.  Charles Walton replaced him.

SIDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Latest figures indicate that 1,500 motor coaches, 330 trolleys, and 21 trolley buses operate in Sydney and Newcastle.

LONDON, ENGLAND: On March 1, the London Transport surface system of trolley-bus lines will be converted to diesel buses, with the exception of a very few lines.  No tramlines remain.