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Busy Section of L.A. Rail Transit Had Quicker Service in 1916

Over a century ago, the Pacific Electric Railway operated a line between downtown Los Angeles and Long Beach that competed its journey ten minutes faster than LA Metro's Blue Line does. What gives?
October 25, 2019, 2pm PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Long Beach to Los Angeles
Brad Davis, AICP

Back in 1916, Brian Addison writes, "the Pacific Electric Railway's Long Beach line, which stretched directly from Downtown Los Angeles to Downtown Long Beach, was nearly ten minutes faster than the current line."

Slow rail transit is arguably better than no rail transit, a deprivation Los Angeles suffered for several decades after the demise of its early 20th century rail transit system. But as Addison points out, "the Long Beach stretch of [the Blue Line] is the only stretch that doesn't have a signal preemption or synchronization system—that is, controllers for the movement of traffic that gives preference to Metro trains rather than street traffic." 

That means trains slow to a snail's crawl as they navigate traffic signals, getting bogged down with automobile traffic. 

Thankfully, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is on the case: the line is currently undergoing rehabilitation to address the issue and will fully reopen on November 2. "Workers have been fine-tuning the systems attached to create priority for the train to save time for commuters," Addison writes. Still, time savings will likely not exceed the ten-minute mark.

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Published on Monday, October 21, 2019 in Long Beach Post
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