Los Angeles ended its streetcar service after 90 years

Sunday 31st March 1963

Los Angeles ended its streetcar service after 90 years. The Los Angeles Streetcar system was primarily operated by Pacific Electric (1901-1961) and developed into the largest trolley system in the world by the 1920′s. This breath of scale enabled residents and visitors alike to routinely traverse the Los Angeles region, and connected many of Southern California’s communities. The system operated for over half a century, and at its peak traversed over 1,100 miles of track with 900 electric trolley cars; this dense network produced a rate of public transit usage higher than San Francisco does today on a per capita basis. For years the system was considered by many to be “the vital cog in the city’s transportation system,” and according to author Steven Ealson, provided transportation for millions who enjoyed the streetcar so much they would “ride for miles simply for fun or for transportation to places of amusement.” The demise of the streetcar began with the unprecedented development of single-family tract housing designed and built to accommodate automobiles. This pattern of development quickened during post-war housing construction, and accelerated the demise of the streetcar system as the region became dependent on private transportation. The convenience and accessibility of automobiles eroded the advantages of the historic streetcar system, and led to precipitous declines in ridership. Widespread adoption of diesel buses ultimately led to the abandonment of all streetcar systems

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