TIMEPOINTS VOL 3 NO 02 August 1951
THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TRACTION REVIEW
EASTERN TRANSIT NEWS ISSUE
The East thru Western Eyes - 11:
ACROSS THE CONTINENT..................By Stephen M. Salisbury
(SC-ERA member Salisbury has completed a tour of American street railway systems from Pacific to Atlantic. Only his eastbound journey is available for summary here at press time-Ed.)
KANSAS CITY: For many miles approaching this city from the west, the train crawled thru flood waters as high at times as the train’s platforms. Due to flood delay, there was no time to do more than see owl cars pass by Union Station.
ST LOUIS: This system is now 100% PCC, and of the remaining lines Hodiamont and Clayton are among the most interesting.
ILLINOIS TERMINAL: Rode from St. Lewis to Danville. A single-old car was substituted for our northbound streamlined train, which hit a jeep southbound somewhere in Illinois and was laid up for repairs. The passengers were very angry that ITRR had not given them more than a single car in substitution, for there were many standing in the aisle. Eastbound, into Danville we had one of the old orange cars--a wonderful ride. All passenger service is to be abandoned east of Champaign as soon as the PUC approves. A steam railroad is anxious to buy ITRR’s to-be-abandoned tracks near Danville to give it more storage capacity. No word yet on the hearings.
INDIANAPOLIS: A major disappointment. Only two lines are still rail, and these are bus nights, Saturdays and Sundays.
PITTSBURGH: Spent several days in this PCC wonderland. A round trip on the Washington PCC interurban was enough to keep me from riding Charleroi---I’ve never had such a rough ride--really unpleasant. But the PCC city cars are excellent. The shuttle line 38A is one of the nicest private right of way lines in the country. And 21-Fineview was also scenic. There is no city like Pittsburgh: it has lines everywhere, with spectacular rights-of-way and infinite variety of scenery. The Washington local lines (East-West, North-Washington and Jefferson-Maiden) are still going strong with old cars, offering about a ten-minute headway. A summer-only branch of one of the lines enters a park on private right of way.
JOHNSTON: An excellent small-city system. Track rebuilding is still under way. One line is being converted to trolley coach, the rest stay rail indefinitely. The Oakhurst shuttle, which had been abandoned to buses, was restored to rail operation because loads were too heavy for buses; it too will stay rail indefinitely now.
ALTOONA: Another disappointment. Altoona & Logan Valley Elect Ry’s last two streetcar lines do not run on Sundays.
PHILADELPHIA: A huge system, the equipment is dull and uninteresting, but some trackage nice (e.g., Willow Grove). On PST, the Media and West Chester lines were wonderful, the other two quite uninteresting. Rode the Liberty Bell, a very enjoyable ride, and all of LVT’s Allentown lines. LVT is decrepit and unchanging as every. Allentown newspapers carry many nasty letters about LVT trolley and bus maintenance. From a railfan point of view, LVT is still a wonderful system.
YONKERS: Rode all the 8 rail lines, which still run in Yonkers; took movies at Getty Square of the 7 lines crossing it. Lines 1 and 5 are especially nice.
(And at this point S.S. arrived in New Haven, to tour Branford with your Editor and then journey with him on to Boston, as indicated in the following article. Branford is a horrible mess of desolation and junk, hardly worth even a railfan’s time to visit anymore-Ed.)
The East thru Western Eyes- 12
A BOSTON SOJOURN By your Editor
It is encouraging to find a municipally operated system, which is not pro-bus. Such is MTA, Boston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority. In addition to its three genuine rapid transit routes, one of which is now being extended on surface right-of-way to Orient Heights, MTA at presents operates 26 electric railway routes with trolley cars. A third of these use the trolley subway in downtown Boston and are assured a permanent lease on life. Another third will probably stay rail for some time also, some using PCC cars even at present. A find third including all the Maverick-Revere Beach lines and some Southside lines will go trolley coach in the fairly near future.
Boston at present uses three major car types on its trolley lines. There are a large number of PCCs, including the 50 picture window PCCs received this spring. Oldest PCC group was purchased in 1941. The PCCs, as on LATL, are numbered up from 3000.
More numerous than the PCCs are the omnipresent “Type 5's,” numbered in the 5000 class. These are of two types, the “high speeds”, all of which are on a single line, the 100 to Elm St., and the far more numerous “low speed” Fives. These cars are all products of the mid-1920s, and are unevenly maintained: some are in poor condition while others are excellent. The few “high-speeds” are the equal of the PE 600s in acceleration and speed, but far inferior in appearance and comfort (all Type Fives have wooden seats).
The third type of equipment yet running in Boston has all but been retired: the MU center-entrance trains, which the PCCs have almost replaced in the subway. At the time of our Boston sojourn, the last week in July, no trains were running on regular runs, but would fill in occasionally when too many PCCs were being shopped. The only center-entrance train actually seen in service was on the Subway-Arborway line 39, although this type of equipment was in evidence in several car yards about the city. They are numbered in the 6000s and of course were the backbone of Boston EL for many, many years before the PCCs.
A fourth type, the so-called Type Four cars, which are deck roof, older city cars numbered in the low 5000s, were seen in one or two yards, but are not (so far as we were able to discern) any longer in service at all, and will soon be scrapped.
South Boston has not much equipment variety left: only the PCCs and type Fives run commonly over the system. Old cars still run in the trolley subway, although they are in the vast minority.
The most unusual feature of Boston’s trolley system, of course, is the extensive use made of the trolley subway. This permits all surface cars to run in the downtown district free from interference of surface traffic. Actual speeds made in the Trolley subway compare rather unfavorably with those in Los Angeles’, but the subway is undeniably far faster than surface routes could ever be. Seed underground is hampered by the close headways that are maintained: three-car PCC trains less than thirty seconds apart in rush hours. Fortunately, the block signal system is far more adequate than is the case in Los Angeles’ subway, but even so, during base and rush hours there is not much opportunity for the PCCs to show any speed. From a single tunnel running north and south on Tremont St., which is four-tracked in places, cars fan out to six portals south of the downtown area, and then commence street ( or in some cases, private right of way) operation, usually for considerable distances further. Rail in the subway is not too smooth, and the PCCs are as bouncy as they are on most systems where they run on private right of way. The new PCCs are if anything more bouncy than previous models.
Aside from the subway, the most notable Boston characteristic is the great number of prepayment stations, which are combination subway or elevated stations and surface car and bus line terminals. At these stations, which are entirely within turnstiles, a great deal of transferring and reverse-direction riding can be accomplished on a single fare. Certain of the stations are large-scale streetcar terminals in their own right, such as Arborway-Forest Hills, at the south end of an elevated line, from which seven surface car lines depart (one of which uses the trolley subway). Another large rail terminal is Maverick, entirely underground, from which several car lines depart on the same level as the adjacent tracks of the subway trains with which they connect. Present fare over the entire MTA system is 10 cents for local surface rides of any length without transfer, 15 cents for surface rides with transfer, and 15 cents for all rapid transit-surface rides, with or without transfer. The 15 cents rapid transit fare applies also in the trolley subways, but so far as we could tell, the operator of an inbound trolley on the street before entering a subway portal has no way of checking who has paid 10 cents for a local ride and who has paid 15 cents.
In the outlaying areas, there is more than a mere smattering of private right of way on the various lines. Most of this is center or side-of-the-street, there being little trackage completely away from streets.
The following is a resume of the MTA rail system’s routes. Numbers are given on the route map, but no cars or buses display them, and no company employee discusses lines other than by name.
1-ASHMONT-HARVARD TUNNEL: This is a true rapid transit route, nearly all subway, with cars similar to the IRT cars in New York City. It runs from Harvard Square in Cambridge, to the west of Boston, into the downtown area, then south partly thru open cut and surface private right of way, partly still in subway, to Ashmont on the southern side of the city.
2-FOREST HILLS-EVERETT ELEVATED: This is entirely elevated except for a section of subway in the heart of downtown Boston. It is probably the nicest of the true rapid transit routes. Stations are much farther apart than on New York EL’s, allowing greater speed, especially on the downhill outbound run to Forest Hills in the southern side of the city.
3-BOWDOIN-MAVERICK TUNNEL: This line is entirely subway at present, and runs from Bowdoin in downtown Boston beneath the Charles River to Maverick, where at present it ends. It is to be extended via a surface private right of way using catenary rather than third-rail. All rail and wire for this extension are in place to the new terminal at Orient Heights, and the cars for it are sitting at the latter point.
7-SOUTH STATION-CITY POINT: A surface trolley line entirely on city streets. South Station, which is on the edge of downtown Boston, is the closest point to the center of the city to which trolleys operate on streets. This line runs near the waterfront for a good distance, over many bridges. It is entirely Type Five, as there is a stub end in the middle of the street at South Station.
9-SUBWAY-CITY POINT: This is a PCC line which runs underground to a portal south of the downtown area, then turns east along rather uninteresting streets and joins lines 7 and 10 to the end of the rather dilapidated City Point section of the city.
10-DUDLEY-CITY POINT: This is a PCC line beginning under the Forest Hills EL and running north, then east to join the 9 and continue to City Point. Its most unusual feature is the Arlington Station where it loops twice around the same trackage each trip to enter the station.
28-ASHMONT-MATTAPAN “HIGH SPEED” LINE: Without doubt this is the finest MTA route. It is all on private right of way, entirely away from streets, and plunges thru beautiful wooded areas, running for some distance beside the banks of a river.
Type Five equipment used.
29-MATTAPAN-EGLESTON: A surprisingly nice line because of a side of the road private right of way along the edge of a park in a hilly section, which is very beautiful. Much bracket arm over pavement operation also. Evidently quite safe for the future as the rails are being renewed. Type Five.
30-ARBORWAY-MATTAPAN: A rather dull PCC line entirely on city streets.
32-ARBORWAY-CLEARY SQUARE: Another not too interesting street-running line to the extreme south of the city. Uses Type Five.
33-ARBORWAY-ROSLINDALE: An odd-shaped line taking two-sides of a very narrow-angled triangle of trackage, with little independent running. Unimportant. Uses Type Five.
34-ARBORWAY-DEDHAM: This rather long south side line uses Type Fives and enjoys a stretch of center-of-the-highway private right of way on its outer end; eastern Massachusetts cars used to run further out from it.
36-ARBORWAY-CHARLES RIVER: A nice, winding line, but entirely on streets. Trolley coach overhead is 100% in place, and the line will go TC in about two months. At present it is served by the Type Fives during daylight hours, and by PCCs evenings.
39-SUBWAY-ARBORWAY: A long, rather dull route with MU PCCs and still an occasional center-entrance train; totally on built-up, congested streets after it leaves the subway. Has Type Fives also.
40-EGLESTON-ARBORWAY: A short line on tracks entirely underneath the Forest Hills EL. An unimportantline stripped of all Sunday service in a recent economy move. After all, the EL is overhead.
43-SUBWAY-EGLESTON: PCCs and a few Type Fives on this line, which winds along congested city streets much like the Subway-Arborway line, only shorter.
47-MASSACHUSETTS STATION-DUDLY: This is obviously a remnant of a whole group of other lines that were abandoned. It runs rail Monday through Friday from 5.20 to 9.40am, and 3.13 to 6.37pm. Other hours and on weekends it is bus. It has under-the el running and very tedious route thru city streets to a high-roofed terminal at Mass Station on the trolley subway. Probably the most boring rail line on MTA.
61-SUBWAY-CLEVELAND CIRCLE: This is one of the heaviest lines on the system, and uses both new and older PCCs in 2 and 3 car trains. Not an inch of this line is on streets (except, of course, for grade crossings), as it enjoys a tree-shaded center-of the-street private right of way along its entire course after it leaves the subway. Rush hour headway is terrific.
62-SUBWAY-BOSTON COLLEGE: Twin of the Cleveland Circle route, with same equipment and also much private right of way beside and within streets. A very important and scenic line not quite as nice as the 61.
69-SUBWAY-WATERTOWN: A long line, on streets after leaving the subway, from which it heads due west to the city of Watertown, Mass. There is a turn back loop at Braves Field. An all PCC operation.
71-SUBWAY-WATERTOWN: Entirely in the outlying areas of Cambridge and Watertown. Mostly PCC, with a few Type Fives. Track is very smooth, making the PCC ride unusually pleasant.
73-HARVARD-WAVERLEY: Runs with 71 for a ways west of Harvard, then runs west on broad, hilly streets to Waverley, Mass. Type Fives, as it is stub-end in Waveley. A pleasant but unspectacular route.
79-HARVARD-ARLINGTON HEIGHTS: A long line running to the northwest of Harvard. A mixture of PCCs and older cars. It is actually thru-routed with 71, as cars run all the way thru from Watertown to Arlington Heights, but passengers must get off at Harvard, pay another fare, and walk thru a gate to re-board. Turn backs run to two points, one of which is stub-end and will not take PCCs.
100-SULLIVAN SQUARE-ELM STREET: This is entirely removed from all other MTA rail lines, but has its own car house and connects with other MTA lines via trackage not in regular use. It is the second-nicest line on the MTA, being almost all of center-of-the-street private right of way, and using the fast “High speed” Fives, which are capable of 40 mph and have excellent acceleration. “Too fast for the track on this line,” one operator commented. Yet rail has been improved, and prospects for the rail service on this highly scenic line seem good. It was even more scenic until 1946, when it ran thru the woods to Spot Pond and via Eastern Mass St. Ry. (whose buses still carry the railway name, incidentally) to Stoneham. It should not have been cut back to Elm St., but the remaining portion is still heavily patronized and a must for photography.
114-MAVERICK-MERIDIAN ST.: All these lines that use Maverick are to go trolley coach probably within a year. Much TC overhead is in place already. The Meridian St. line is a remnant of an alternate route to Chelsea which was abandoned when a bridge was closed. Now it ends on a crossover laid at the beginning of the bridge. It is entirely on slow, uninviting streets.
116-MAVERICK - REVERE BEACH VIA REVERE: This line goes to Chelsea, with many turn back cars to “Chelsea via Central” only. It is the farthest north of any New England trolley passenger route, and is entirely on streets.
117-MAVERICK - REVERE BEACH VIA BEACH: An alternate route to Revere, which separates from the Rev-via Rev line, beyond Chelsea and cuts across to reach Rev much more quickly (about the same as the PSL, POK situation between LA and Pasadena). All on streets, but very nice.
118-MAVERICK-REVERE BEACH VIA ORIENT HEIGHTS:
A third and entirely different route between these two terminals, and the shortest of them all, (continuing the analogy, it would resemble the Pasadena via Garvanza route). It parallels the rapid transit extension, and enjoys a stretch of complete private right of way in a very country-ish setting, with a trestle across a creek or pond in its middle. It reminded Steve and I , as we walked it, of the Balboa Park Line in San Diego, more strongly than anything else either of us has seen, yet it is also very, very different, as there are no cliffs or drop-offs. Turn backs run to Gladstone loop (called line 115). There is also a private right of way branch to a racetrack a short distance, which runs Sundays only.
121-MAVERICK - LEXINGTON ST.: The only single-track line on MTA, running with Meridian St. until a few blocks before the end of that route, and then turning onto a run-down street, changing to the single pair of rails, and continuing up and down hill for perhaps a mile, ending in a car house. Very unimportant, requiring only one car for base service.
All Maverick lines, of course, use the Types Fives exclusively. Some of these cars still say “Boston Elevated Railway” on their sides. The Maverick lines were part of Eastern Massachusetts Street Ry. until 1936.
And there you have it--a fine system, with some track amputations still in store for it, but with an excellent future for the rail lines that will still remain.
LOS ANGELES THROUGH EASTERN EYES---PART I
By Robert Abrams
(TIMEPOINTS subscriber Abrams is familiar to readers as participant in the NCL-LARy debates last spring. Now he has traveled West to Southern California for the first time since 1943, and herewith presents the first part of a two-part commentary on his impressions of LATL and PE in comparison with Eastern lines-Ed.)
When I was out here in Los Angeles eight years ago while in the service, I was amazed by the great variety of routes and equipment of both LARy and PERy.
There had been, up to 1943, a few cases of the axe falling on rail operations, especially on PE, but all in all a large percentage of the original trackage was still extant. The only lines that was already gone that I would really have liked to have seen and ridden was the PE line to San Bernardino and Riverside. I did get my wish fulfilled to a small extend, though, because returning from Japan in 1946 we landed at the Los Angeles Harbor and took the PE to Camp Anza at Riverside. Unfortunately, this was at night, but I do remember crossing Vernon Avenue and seeing a sowbelly “V” waiting for us to go by.
As I was stationed at Fort McArthur when in Los Angeles, I had ample opportunity to ride PE for more than mere railfan interest. It was here that I got my bad impression of the system. The doddering slowness of the creaky 1000s on the San Pedro line (I know these cars were supposed to have been fast) just did not fit in with my conception of a high-speed electric line (I was brought up on the Phily & Western, and unfortunately was spoiled in that way). Soon I was joining the thousands of servicemen hitchhiking up Vermont and Western Aves. After all, you could make time that way, and when in the service, time off means a lot, too much to waste on PE.
As for LARy, I believe my comments in other issues of TIMEPOINTS have covered that topic. Just to summarize, I thought they had about the oddest collection of cars I had ever seen, and some of their rail routes seemed to have been laid out by early real estate developers who twisted and turned them to reach everybody (the Old ‘H’ line was a prize example).
Of course, I have been keeping up with LATL and PE news since the war, and after getting more and more desirous of return trip, on June 8, 1951, Jimmy Myers and I boarded the Pennsylvania Limited for our great Western excursion.
After riding PE lines this summer, I came to the conclusion that there really had been little improvement in the eight intervening years. The so-called “Blimps” (a term unknown to Eastern fans) are slower than cars that have been scrapped, and really provide the same tedious ride on the Southern District. Los Angeles has far outgrown interurban cars of this type. PE (under SP auspices, of course) is the only company in the nation that would not have taken such cars and remodeled them. One day it took us an hour and a half to get from Los Angeles to Long Beach (due primarily to the freight trains delaying us), and I heard the comments of the passengers, none favorable, of course. PE seems determined to drive them away.
As the Northern District is practically passé, there really is nothing to say except that to my mind it is absurd to abandon the very useful Huntington Drive right-of-way and fill the streets with additional diesel buses. It really did not take more than the merest whim of the State of California to include Aliso in their freeway projects, and PE was practically dancing for joy: at last it could junk the Pasadena Short Line, after ten years of futile attempts.
The Western District also has deteriorated tremendously. The 600s as one-man cars are extremely slow and clumsy, with their single front doors and other poorly arranged facilities. Service on such lines as Hollywood Blvd. is incredibly slow now. This should be the one place where PE attempts to give good service, but such an idea is virtually unheard-of now. Santa Monica Blvd. and San Fernando Valley service, I think, will disappear on completion of the Hollywood Freeway. No one will use these fantastically slow Valley cars, with their primitive signaling arrangements. And the rail on Santa Monica Boulevard is quite bad. As for Glendale-Burbank, poor maintenance of the PCCs detracts from the ride, although I think it is about the fastest line on the entire system.
PE bus operation is, in my opinion, as poor as the rail operation. It is infrequent, slow, and generally shabby. It is no wonder that PE has ceased to exercise a major role in the life of Southern California. Had some attempt been made in the early 1920s to build up a rapid transit system, the street traffic patterns of LA might be quite different now indeed. But with steam railroad ownership and a public-be-damned attitude, such a setup as rapid transit was beyond hope. The only future for PE, in my opinion, will be as a diesel freight-switching road, all their bus lines going to LATL, Asbury, or other operators. Of course, no rail lines will be left to distribute.
(Next month TIMEPOINTS will continue with Mr. Abrams’s impressions of LATL and its future-Ed.).
SC-ERA CHARTERS 1299 TO SAN BERNARDINO
Sunday, August 5, was finally set as the date for the SC-ERA’s third excursion and second PE trip, using Presidential Car 1299, sole remaining 1200-class car, to San Bernardino and Colton from Los Angeles.
It was felt that a thorough coverage of the PE’s one-time “famed racetrack” of 58 miles into Orange Empire was more important than attempting to cover more than the one line at a much higher fare.
Because of the great demand for the trip, and the limitation of 35 persons to 1299, priority system was established giving SC-ERA members’ first priority, with space for others as available. It was also announced that the trip might possibly be re-run a few weeks later to accommodate those missing out.
LOCAL TRANSIT NEWS:
STATE AUTHORIZES MONORAIL CONSTRUCTION
Earl Warren, Governor of California, on July 25 signed the bill authorizing the creation of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority, specifically organized for the building of a high-speed monorail rapid transit line from Long Beach to Van Nuys via Los Angeles and the Los Angeles River bed.
Attempts are currently being made to finance the project, which is estimated to cost between $60 and $80 million [in 1951 dollars], thru sale of bonds and aid from the federal government. If all goes well, construction may begin as early as January 1952. However, the right-of-way has yet to be procured.
It is planned that each car will seat forty persons, and that the cars will clear the ground by 16 feet. Average schedule speed is announced at 38.1 mph. Running time between Los Angeles and Van Nuys is estimated at approximately thirty minutes, with a 35-minute time between Los Angeles and Long Beach. Monorail expects to match PE fares.
LAMTA is also authorized to operate feeder bus lines to its monorail stations should existing facilities be inadequate.
The bill was authorized by Assemblyman Everret Burkhalter of North Hollywood, and makes LAMTA a public utility subject to the state Public Utilities Commission [former Railroad Commission prior to 1946].
Construction of the line has been estimated to require “several years.” Although legal authorization has been gained, Monorail is still a long way from becoming a reality in Los Angeles.
Should Monorail actually enter successful operation, its effects upon Pacific Electric are not hard to comprehend. The most important of PE’s routes, from Los Angeles to Long Beach, would quickly be strangled out of existence. Nevertheless, it is not certain that even PE’s Long Beach Line would still be a rail operation of that company by 1955, when Monorail might be completed. In the San Fernando Valley area, PE’s Van Nuys rail line will probably be abandoned anyway when the Hollywood Freeway is completed.
PASADENA SHORT LINE SERVICE CUT AGAIN
Effective July 2, rush hour and early evening service was substantially cut on PE’s still-rail Pasadena Short Line. An 11-minute headway had previously been maintained at the height of the PM rush hour, but this is now 14 to 15 minutes. In the early evening, cars are now hourly after 7.44pm, rather than after 8.44pm.