Mountain Shuttle Could Be Revived, a Century Later

Close to one hundred years after the last funicular trains took tourists up to dizzying heights in the Angeles National Forest, a new shuttle service could bring the wilderness closer to more Los Angeles residents.

Read Time: 2 minutes

September 21, 2022, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Black and white photo of Mount Lowe Railway train in 1893, Angeles National Forest

Water and Power Associates / Mount Lowe Railway in 1893

A new shuttle service could make the Angeles National Forest, a vast swath of wilderness that looms above hyper-urbanized Los Angeles County, accessible to more visitors. As Steve Scauzillo of the Los Angeles Daily News reports in an article republished in Mass Transit, the proposed Mount Wilson Express Shuttle, funded in part through efforts by U.S. Representative Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), will likely run on weekends and take passengers to the Mount Wilson Observatory, the Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center at Red Box, Clear Creek Information Center, and trailheads at Eaton Saddle, Colby Canyon and Gould Mesa.

More than a century ago, the vertigo-inducing Mount Lowe Railway operated in the same area, using funicular trains to transport people from the valley floor to Echo Mountain. The new project faces a long planning, permitting, and public input process, as well as the question of how to fund the system’s future operations. Nature For All, the nonprofit working on the shuttle plan, is modeling their proposal on the shuttles currently running in Zion and Yosemite National Parks.

“Nature For All would like to add a shuttle service line that connects with the Azusa L Line station and travels up Highway 39, the main forest entrance route.” This would put the forest within reach of millions of transit-dependent Angelenos who see the mountains every day but, in many cases, never have the opportunity to visit.

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