Laura Bliss is CityLab’s West Coast bureau chief. She also writes MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Sierra, GOOD, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, including in the book The Future of Transportation.
Alan Weeks was there when the Red Cars stopped running. “Nobody ever thought we’d see it come back,” he says in a short film.
After more than six decades, passenger rail has finally returned to the west side of Los Angeles. Friday morning marked the official opening of Metro’s Expo Line extension, which runs from downtown L.A. to the shores of Santa Monica. Portions of the tracks run along the old route of the Pacific Electric “Red Cars,” which ran all over Southern California during the first half of the 20th century.
In a short film from the Los Angeles County newsroom, Alan Weeks, an 84-year-old streetcar enthusiast, photographer, and retired Metro employee, describes what it’s like to be among the few Angelenos who’ve now experienced two generations of L.A. transit. He was aboard the very last Red Car train to pull into Santa Monica in 1953, and last week, he got to preview the Expo extension. The video captures Weeks’ easygoing delight riding the new segment, part of system that he describes as an “all-the-way-around better system” compared to what L.A. once had and tore down to make way for cars.
“Nobody that I was with, myself included, ever thought we’d see it come back,” he says. “Now, I think the younger people have rediscovered the benefits of an inexpensive ride.”
Here’s hoping, Mr. Weeks.