Native Angeleno who has worked in public, academic and special libraries, as well as museums and college instruction. I am responsible for maintaining the Metro Transportation Library website, all of our social media properties, and digitization efforts to bring more of our resources to our users whenever they need them. For more information, visit The Metro Library website.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The 24-Hour City: 104 Years Of Owl Transit Service In Los Angeles

-- By Matt Barrett

Los Angeles has been a 24-hour city for much longer that most would imagine, and transit service has played an important role in keeping the city moving overnight for over 100 years.

(LAMTA Car 3022 trundles down the R Line tracks on owl service in 1963. Photo courtesy of Alan Weeks)

According to the September 11, 1906 edition of the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper, in a brief article entitled “Owl Cars Are Run on Principal Lines”:
The “owl” car service began last night. Cars on the principal lines left First and Spring streets at 1 and 2 o’clock. They were well patronized. The lines included are Boyle Heights, Grand Avenue, Vernon Avenue, University, Main Street, and Pico Heights.

At the time service began, these lines linked Downtown with what were then LA’s most populated neighborhoods around 6th and Rampart, Central and Slauson, Boyle Heights, 46th and Wesley, Vermont and 54th, and Pico and Wilton.

Owl service continued in operation as the fledgling network of streetcar lines, buses and interurban rail lines was purchased in 1911 and organized into two main transit companies: Pacific Electric, for long-distance interurban service, and Los Angeles Railway serving urban inner-city Los Angeles.

As Los Angeles grew outward, so did the length of the lines offering owl service. Special owl service guides were published and system maps included extensive owl service information for passengers.

Even as streetcar service slowly began the conversion to bus service, beginning as early as 1925 and continuing until the last rail line was shut down in 1963, owl service remained a part of the transit system – as it does today.

(This 1947 brochure advertised LAMTA's Owl Service)

Currently, Metro has 59 buses running on 26 lines during its overnight owl service, roughly midnight to 5 a.m., connecting Downtown to points north to the San Fernando Valley, south to Long Beach, east to El Monte and west to Santa Monica and Venice.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New And Notable: Strategic Collaboration In Public & Non-Profit, Managing Public Sector Projects, Government Contracting

This week, we highlight three new titles from the ASPA Series in Public Administration and Public Policy.

Market disruptions, climate change, and health pandemics lead the growing list of challenges faced by today’s leaders. These issues, along with countless others that do not make the daily news, require novel thinking and collaborative action to find workable solutions. However, many administrators stumble into collaboration without a strategic orientation.

Using a practitioner-oriented style, Strategic Collaboration In Public And Non-Profit Administration: A Practice-Based Approach To Solving Shared Problems provides guidance on how to collaborate more effectively, with less frustration and better results.

Linking collaboration theory to effective practice, this book offers essential advice that fosters shared understanding, creative answers, and transformation results through strategic collaborative action. With an emphasis on application, it uses scenarios, real-world cases, tables, figures, tools, and checklists to highlight key points.

The appendix includes supplemental resources such as collaboration operating guidelines, a meeting checklist, and a collaboration literature review to help public and nonprofit managers successfully convene, administer, and lead collaboration. The book presents a framework for engaging in collaboration in a way that stretches current thinking and advances public service practice.

A guidebook through the minefield of government contracting and procurement, Government Contracting: Promises and Perils describes the dangerous practices commonly applied in the development and management of government contracts and provides advice for avoiding the sort of errors that might compromise their ability to protect the public interest.

It includes strategies for increasing profits for government contractors, rather than incurring burdensome costs, through compliance with government mandated subcontracting and financial management systems.

Drawing from his in-depth investigation of government agencies across the country, the author examines present-day scenarios that regularly lead public servants and government committees to manage contracts with tools that are less than optimal and to select contractors that may not be the best qualified. He then delineates practical processes, contracting documents, and contract management tools to mitigate detrimental outcomes and alternative approaches to supplant the imperfect methodologies.

The author includes a CD-ROM with the book that provides a number of practical tools that you can apply as well as examples of contracts and templates that are the best he discovered during his research. The book also outlines an approach for performing advance contract planning, conducting contract negotiations, and administering contracts useful when planning for the management of the contracting process throughout the contracting cycle, negotiating a contract that protects the interest of all contracting parties, and ensuring successful contractor performance.

Filling a gap in project management literature, Managing Public Sector Projects: A Strategic Framework for Success in an Era of Downsized Government supplies managers and administrators—at all levels of government—with expert guidance on all aspects of public sector project management.

From properly allocating risks in drafting contracts to dealing with downsized staffs and privatized services, this book clearly explains the technical concepts and the political issues involved.

In line with the principles of Total Quality Management (TQM) and the PMBOK® (Project Management Body of Knowledge), David S. Kassel establishes a framework those in the public sector can follow to ensure the success of their public projects and programs. He supplies more than 30 real-life examples to illustrate the concepts behind the framework—including reconstruction projects in Iraq, the Big Dig project in Boston, local sewer system and library construction projects, and software technology.

This authoritative resource provides strategic recommendations for effective planning, execution, and maintenance of public projects. It also:

  • Highlights the differences between managing projects in the public sector versus the private sector
  • Explains how to scrutinize costs, performance claims, and the backgrounds of prospective contractors
  • Presents key safeguards that should be included in all contracts with contractors, consultants, suppliers, and other service providers
  • Details the basics of project cost estimation, design and scheduling, and how to hold contractors responsible for meeting established project standards

In an age of downsized government and in the face of a general distrust of public service, this book is a dependable guide for avoiding management practices that are common to projects that fail and for adopting the practices common to projects that succeed in terms of cost, schedule, and quality.

Monday, September 20, 2010

New And Notable: Cities For People, Transportation Infrastructure Security, Railway Noise And Vibration

For more than forty years Jan Gehl has helped to transform urban environments around the world based on his research into the ways people actually use — or could use — the spaces where they live and work.

In Cities For People (Washington : Island Press, 2010), his revolutionary new book, Gehl presents his latest work creating (or recreating) cityscapes on a human scale. He clearly explains the methods and tools he uses to reconfigure unworkable cityscapes into the landscapes he believes they should be: cities for people.

Taking into account changing demographics and changing lifestyles, Gehl explains how to develop cities that are lively, safe, sustainable, and healthy.

“Jan Gehl is our greatest observer of urban quality and an indispensable philosopher of cities as solutions to the environmental and health crises that we face. With over half the world’s population now in urban areas, the entire planet needs to learn the lessons he offers in Cities for People.” --Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation

The book is extensively illustrated with over 700 photos and drawings of examples from Gehl’s work around the globe. Jan Gehl is based in Copenhagen.

Intelligent Transportation Systems, or ITS, integrates different computing, control, and communication technologies to help monitor and manage traffic management that helps reduce congestion while saving lives, time, and money.

While mobility and safety are the primary objectives of any good transportation system, security has also become an equally important consideration in their design and operation.

This new work, Transportation Infrastructure Security Utilizing Intelligent Transportation Systems (Hoboken, NJ : Wiley, 2008), provides a comprehensive treatment of techniques to leverage ITS in support of security and safety for surface transportation infrastructure.

Through the book's multidisciplinary approach, readers gain a comprehensive introduction to the diverse aspects of transportation infrastructure security as well as how ITS can reduce risks and be protected from threats with such topics as computer systems, risk analysis, and multi-modal transportation systems.

This book, which will serve as a textbook and guide, provides:

  • Current ITS approaches to security issues such as freight security, disaster and evacuation response, HAZMAT incidents, rail security, and ITS Wide Area Alerts
  • Guidance on the development of a regional transportation security plan
  • Securing ITS itself and privacy issues involved in any collection and use of personally identifiable tracking data
  • Exercises, question-and-answer sections, and other helpful review tools for the reader
Filling a gap in the practical application of security, this book offers both students and transportation professionals valuable insights into the new security challenges encountered and how to manage these challenges with the use of computerized transportation systems.

Railways are an environmentally friendly means of transport well suited to modern society.

However, noise and vibration are key obstacles to further development of the railway networks for high-speed intercity traffic, for freight and for suburban metros and light-rail.

Railway Noise And Vibration: Mechanisms, Modelling And Means Of Control (Amsterdam : Elsevier, 2009) brings together coverage of the theory of railway noise and vibration with practical applications of noise control technology at source to solve noise and vibration problems from railways.

Each source of noise and vibration is described in a systematic way: rolling noise, curve squeal, bridge noise, aerodynamic noise, ground vibration and ground-borne noise, and vehicle interior noise.

This work also discusses in full the theoretical background and practical workings of railway noise, including the latest research findings, and forms an extended case study in the application of noise control techniques.

Author David Thompson is Professor of Railway Noise and Vibration at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, University of Southampton (U.K.).

This Is Social Media Week In Los Angeles!

It's Social Media Week here in Los Angeles.

This global platform for conversation, collaboration and learning connects hundreds of thousands of people in different cities around the world in hopes of raising consciousness about social media's role in society.

Participating cities this week include not only Los Angeles, but Bogota, Buenos Aires, Mexico City and Milan.

According to the organizers, programming and content are "designed to cover every emerging trend, technology area and industry sector." Events are primarily free to attend or significantly subsidized. By being both collaborative and co-curated, the event reflects the local market rather than one vision distributed throughout participating cities.

The programming on deck in Los Angeles this week includes a Cleantech Social Media Panel sponsored by CleanTech Los Angeles at 2:00pm Tuesday afternoon, September 21. "Panelists range from established social media cleantech groups to new cleantech initiatives seeking to capitalize on social media techniques."

Other events deal with How Geolocation Technology Is Changing The World, Listening And Engaging With The Public: Political Process In Social Media and the convergence of Search Engine Optimization And Social Media.

Back in February, Social Media Week rolled into Berlin, London, New York, San Francisco, Sao Paulo and Toronto. You can find more information on the Social Media Week website, as well as on Twitter, their Facebook page, and on YouTube.

Research Roundup: More Transit = More Jobs, Congestion Trends & Statistics, Managing Increased Ridership

The Transportation Equity Network (TEN) has released More Transit = More Jobs: The Impact Of Increasing Funding For Public Transit (31p. PDF). TEN is a coalition of more than 350 grassroots organizations in 41 states that has worked since 1997 to build a more just, prosperous, and connected America.

This study asks two key questions:

What would be the effect on jobs in each metropolitan area of shifting 50% of the money spent on highways to public transit?

How many jobs would be created in each metro area if we increased funding on public transit at the rate indicated by the Transportation For America proposal for the next transportation authorization act?

The report highlights several statistics in answering those questions based on data from Transportation Improvement Programs (TIPS) in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas. For example, 1,123,674 new transit jobs would be created over a 5-year period for a net gain of 180,150 jobs without a single dollar of new spending.

However, if federal spending on transit increased as proposed by TEN and Transportation For America, an estimated 1.3 million jobs over the life of the law would be created, as well as almost 800,000 more jobs than under present federal transporation law (SAFETEA-LU).

The Federal Highway Administration published the 2009 Urban Congestion Trends (8p. PDF) document last week. This brief report utilizes a dashboard format to convey year-over-year changes in key traffic measures: daily hours of congestion, time penalty for eqach trip, worst-trip time penalty. Some key observations include:

  • Overall, congestion had declined in almost all monitored regions between 2008 and 2009
  • Less wasted time and fewer hours of the day were devoted to stop-and-go traffic in 16 of the 23 monitored regions
  • At least one of the three measures improved in 20 of the 23 monitored regions
  • Congestion is lowest during the summer vacation season
The report goes on to explain how operational improvements can mitigate congestion and promote smooth, safe and consistent traffic flow.

Examples provided from around the country include high-occupancy/toll lanes, freeway ramp metering, improved information coordination, work-zone management, and traffic signal system improvement programs.

In Managing Increasing Ridership Demand (32p. PDF), The FTA's Transit Cooperative Research Program presents an overview of a study mission investigating how several transit operators and agencies in Latin America accomodate sudden and significant growth in the number of riders and increasing demand for service.

Case studies from Guayaquil (Ecuador), Santiago (Chile), Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Porto Alegre (Brazil) were selected because they have faced and successfully dealt with challenges similar to recent ridership grown in the United States.

Each city's responses offer unique insight into managing increasing transit ridership and providing various perspectives on serving the mobility needs of their communities.

Two International Transit Studies Program study missions such as this are conducted each year. They have three objectives: To afford team members the opportunity to expand their network of domestic and international public transportation peers, to provide a forum for discussion of global initiatives and lessons learned in public transportation, and to facilitate idea sharing and the possible import of strategies for application to transportation communities in the United States.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

5th Annual L.A. As Subject Archives Bazaar: Save The Date For L.A.'s Premiere Historical & Cultural Event On Oct. 23 (And It's Free!)

Southern California: Just thinking about our vast region (larger than many states), diverse population (numbering in the millions), and its unique role in the historical and cultural development of the state and nation boggles the mind.

(Click on all images to enlarge)

How the Los Angeles region became what it is today is a long and complex story. Much of our local history is preserved in libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions. Other valuable and unique collections - those that reveal the stories of neighborhoods, families, influential Angelenos - are scattered across the region, and are curated by smaller institutions and individual enthusiasts.

Our own collections at Metro's Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library and Archive are also an integral part of the history of the Los Angeles area. In order to promote the rich legacy of transportation history in Southern California, we play an active role in L.A. As Subject, a research alliance of more than 250 separate collections dedicated to preserving and improving access to the unique history and culture of Los Angeles. L.A. As Subject is hosted by Unversity of Southern California, and has announced the program for its marquee event of the year.

On Saturday, October 23, 2010 during American Archives Month, L.A. As Subject holds its 5th Annual Archives Bazaar in USC's Doheny Memorial Library.

The event runs from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., features more than 70 historical collections and archives, and is free of charge.

History comes alive at this wonderful event where you can browse rare collections, consult with experts, and learn about researching Los Angeles and Southern California history, online tools, how to preserve your own personal history collections and images, and many other topics.

The full program for 2010 can be found here. The Special Guest Speaker will be KPCC host and L.A. Times columnist Patt Morrison, discussing how libraries and historical archives have informed her work. Morrison was a member of two Los Angeles Times reporting teams that won Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of the 1992 riots and the city's 1994 Northridge earthquake.

The Archives Bazaar is a great opportunity for the public to interact with these member institutions and individuals who bring their unique collections together in one place. This event allows scholars, researchers, archivists, librarians, students, history enthusiasts, documentary filmmakers and "L.A. Nerds" the opportunity to visit several institutions at once - to network, explore, ponder, and marvel at the many fascinating facets of Los Angeles and Southern California.

Imagine all those fascinating libraries, archives, museums, historical societies and cultural institutions from throughout Southern California sharing their collections and stories in an "Antiques Road Show" type of setting. It would cost a small fortune in admission and transportation costs to visit just some of the more than 70 participating institutions (including us) which have reserved their exhibit space so far. On October 23, they're all on display for you to peruse, ask questions, and explore...for free!

Other programming for the 5th Annual Archives Bazaar includes:

Today, the iconic newsboy hawking a newspaper on the street corner is only a memory. When will the newspaper and the newsstand also become memories? When will newspaper morgues become just that, or are they still a viable source for researchers? Join a panel of newspersons and newspaper archivists who will discuss the past, present, and future of the newspaper industry in Southern California.

In recent years, blogs have become an indispensable source of news and information about the Los Angeles region. But what is their role in promoting Los Angeles history and investigating the city’s identity? Join three Southern California bloggers as they discuss how blogs can interpret the region’s past, present, and future.

Join Luis C. Garza, Oliver Mayer, and moderator Liza Posas for a conversation about the ongoing legacy of Mexican mural artist David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974). In 1932, Siqueiros traveled to Los Angeles and painted three murals, which were met with resistance—two were whitewashed shortly after their creation. Despite the efforts to censor his artistic vision, his work has inspired artists from the 1930s to the present day and contributed to the development of the modern mural movement in Los Angeles and beyond.

From aviation pioneers to daring test pilots to space shuttle assembly plants, human flight has long played an important role in Southern California. Learn how Los Angeles took flight as panelists Kenneth E. Pauley, Linda McCann, and Michael Palmer share the hidden aviation stories they have discovered in the region’s libraries and archives.

This documentary is the first to tell the story of Tom Bradley, the first African-American elected mayor of a major U.S. city without a black majority. It is the story of an extraordinary multiracial coalition that transformed the city and in, the process, changed American politics. We will be screening a 20-minute trailer of this work-in-progress.


Florence “Pancho” Barnes was one of the most important women in twentieth century aviation. A tough and fearless aviatrix, Pancho opened a ranch near Edwards Air Force Base that became a famous—some would say notorious—hangout for test pilots and movie stars. Known as the Happy Bottom Riding Club, it became the epicenter of the aviation world during the early Jet Age. Since then, Pancho herself has become something of a legend, a fascinating yet enigmatic icon whose swagger is often celebrated, but whose story has been largely unknown—until now.

A personal fascination and individual zeal can create a collection that has value to the wider world. Such focus can illuminate details and connections that more general collections might miss. Local collectors will share their personal insights into history, and how they have assembled materials that might otherwise be dispersed and potentially never available to researchers.

Ever wondered how to get started with your Los Angeles research, or research in general? This presentation will provide a detailed overview of how and where to start, including researching basics useful for anyone working with primary and secondary source material. Topics will include researching from home, visiting the archives, the ins and outs of reading rooms, and more.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Scan A Barcode, Find A Library: Bringing The World's Library Collections To Your Phone

Ever wonder about those ubiquitous Universal Product barcodes on the back of just about every book? We've been scanning UPC barcodes at the grocery checkout for years, but there never seemed to be a consumer application for those found on books...until now.

Imagine strolling through a bookstore and finding an intriguing title. Wouldn't it be great to instantly know if you could perform some comparison shopping online?

Even better, wouldn't you want to know whether the public library down the street could lend it to you for free, or provide an inter-library loan to you from another institution?

We wanted to share some very exciting news from the converging worlds of libraries, data access and mobile technology.

iPhone users can now download two updated applications that will scan a barcode on a book and find that book in a nearby library using data from WorldCat, the world's largest online database of records representing items held in libraries.

The RedLaser application, developed by Occipital, of Boulder, Colorado, is a barcode scanning application and technology for the iPhone, available through the Apple App Store.

The RedLaser app, which is currently among the top 25 paid apps in the App Store, turns the iPhone camera into a barcode scanner. For book barcodes, the app uses WorldCat APIs to deliver localized U.S. library results based on the user’s geolocation, providing library holdings, library location, contact and map information.

Another exciting new app available is Pic2shop, one of the original mobile apps designed for consumers who like to comparison shop. Users scan a book barcode with their iPhone, and can compare costs to get the book at various retailers or, now, a local library.

This app also uses the WorldCat Search API and WorldCat Registry APIs to deliver results for libraries nearby who hold the item in WorldCat. Location and mapping information is also available.

Developed by Vision Smarts, a technology company based in Belgium, pic2shop was the first iPhone app that could read UPCs and EANs. It broadens the availability for book barcode-scanning functionality, as it offers a free download and works on all available iPhones—even first generation models.

In addition, pic2shop works in all countries, although not all users may have nearby libraries with up-to-date holdings in WorldCat. Vision Smarts is also developing pic2shop apps for additional platforms beyond the iPhone.

Benoit Maison, founder of Vision Smarts and lead developer for the pic2shop app says that "Cataloging books is what we originally had in mind when we set out to build pic2shop more than a year ago. As an avid reader, I find WorldCat truly amazing. I am very proud to help make library results more widely known and available to all pic2shop users."

Mike Teets, OCLC Vice President for Innovation, explains that “putting library results in mobile phone apps such as pic2shop helps remind users that a local library might have the book they’re thinking to buy. And libraries gain extra visibility and value from their OCLC membership, thanks to the cooperative power of WorldCat.”

WorldCat is the world's largest database of bibliographic information built continuously by OCLC member libraries around the world since 1971. WorldCat maintains persistent, Web-accessible identifiers to bibliographic descriptions of items in libraries and connection information to the institutions that hold each item. The institutions share these records, using them to create local catalogs, arrange interlibrary loans and conduct reference work. Libraries contribute records for items not found in WorldCat using the OCLC shared cataloging system.

There are now more than 165 million records in WorldCat spanning five millennia of recorded knowledge. Like the knowledge it describes, WorldCat grows steadily. Every second, OCLC and its member libraries add seven records to WorldCat.

Metro's Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library & Archive has been using the OCLC database to help catalog our collections for years.

WorldCat APIs are available to anyone interested in creating noncommercial mash-ups or mobile apps that include library data. Commercial apps like RedLaser use the WorldCat Search API through a simple partnership agreement.

"OCLC continues to explore new and different ways to provide library data where users need it," said Teets. "Mobile devices are fast becoming the medium of choice for access to information for many people."

Thousands of libraries and millions of books - now at your fingertips. Literally.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Before TAP: The 1963 Vision Of Smart-Card Fare Collection And Rapid Transit For L.A.

The Metro TAP Program has been in the news quite a bit lately, and it reminded us of a long-forgotten piece of Los Angeles transit history.

On January 7, 1963, local business and political leaders gathered at the Statler-Hilton Hotel downtown to hear a presentation on the need for a rapid transit system in Los Angeles.

While countless traffic plans and rapid transit solutions for our region have been proposed as far back as the 1915 Study Of Street Traffic Conditions In The City Of Los Angeles, the Rapid Transit: ...A Reality (53p. PDF) document of 1963 deserves special mention for a number of reasons.

One of the presentations that day was a speech by C.M. Gilliss, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority. He outlined the plan for a rapid transit system for Los Angeles, and buried in that statement is his prescient vision for what is known today as "smart card technology."

A half-century before TAP, Gilliss spoke of a typical passenger on the new system:

He shows his individually coded credit card to the magic-eye fare computer, is admitted through the turnstile concourse and is taken by escalator quickly to the train platform. A computer-tabulating device will automatically record his entrance and his exit and he will be billed automatically for his total mileage at the end of the month.

So what happened to this vision?

Gilliss' appealing portrait of hassle-free and stress-free commuting sounded too good to be true - and it was. Despite the appeal of an alternative to new but congested freeways (and "Sig Alerts"), the following year, the California State Legislature recognized that they had granted limited authority to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority to solve Southern California's transit problems. As then constituted, the Authority would be unable to deliver the needed comprehensive mass rapid transit system.

LAMTA did not have the power to levy taxes for any purpose whatsoever, its Board did not wield sufficient political influence to build broad public support, and it did not have the right to acquire real property by eminent domain. While it could issue revenue bonds, it did not have sufficient revenue sources to implement a large-scale system with broad local support.

The following year, the California State Legislature approved a bill authored by Senator Tom Rees (D-Beverly Hills) creating the Southern California Rapid Transit District (SCRTD) in order to ensure that sufficient resources would be available to build a true mass transit system for Southern California.

The notion of smart-card fare collection fell by the wayside, as the last of Los Angeles' streetcars were put out to pasture the year before, and true rapid transit was still 25 years in the future. The concept was renewed in the 1990s when technology caught up to the vision put forth here, and transit agencies around the world began looking at new methods of electronic fare collection.

We have posted the full text of this rapid transit vision statement below. We think it's an exciting read for any student of Los Angeles transit, history, or past visions of future transportation projects. You may click on all images to enlarge them. You may notice some interesting details, such as the train bound for Century City, complete with period "tail fins."

It is followed by some eye-popping information about rapid transit to Westwood and a Resource List for more information. We now present to you, C.M. Gilliss:


“We only wish somebody would complete some one of the many proposed rapid transit lines and put it in operation.” How many times have we, in the public transportation business, heard this plea? But these are the words of a prominent writer that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on November 5, 1888.

Since that time, the 19th Century version of a rapid transit system was actually built and it served well for 50 years. Many of you will remember the shrill whistle in the distance and the clanging and rumbling of the train as it passed. It served its purpose until a new, convenient, and flexible transportation tool, the automobile, began shaping the living, working, and travel habits of all of Southern California.

Then thousands of new streets laid over the train tracks brought millions of automobiles to impede the progress of those wonderful old trains until the system died.

It was made obsolete in many other ways. For one thing, the remarkable success of the freeways has taught us that any successful commuter facility must travel on its own free right of way.

Look, too, at the almost unbelievable technological advancements of the last 20-30 years. They make possible new and fantastic 20th Century systems that are hard even to imagine. The car, the station, the track structures I will briefly describe to you today are as modern as an orbiting space craft, and could no more be compared to the 19th Century train than one can compare the 1963 Thunderbird with the Model T Ford; or the 19th Century Hall of Records on Broadway to the new Hall of Administration.

What we will build in Los Angeles is the most modern mass rapid transit system in the whole world. The basic design of the car was adopted after many meetings with leading aircraft manufacturers, electronic specialists, railroad construction engineers, electrical equipment firms, transit designers, and "monorail" developers. Every possible technological development was investigated to assure that the system would provide the highest of speeds, operating efficiency, passenger comfort and convenience as well as engineering flexibility and safety.

This system is designed, quite frankly, to compete with the automobile, not for space on the already crowded streets and highways, as our buses must do today, but to compete with it for passengers during commuter time to relieve those streets and highways.

As Mr. Robert Bradford, Chairman of the California Highway Commission, has said last week, his highway engineers are estimating highway needs on the assumption that Los Angeles would join the San Francisco Bay Area in building a rapid transit system.

He went on to say he believes the average California driver will take less time getting home from work in 1980 than now; but he emphasizes that this depends on one fundamental condition - mass rapid transit in metropolitan areas. This system we build, then, must compete in attractiveness and convenience with the private automobile in order to relieve the streets and highways of thousands of peak-hour commuters.

There is a booklet at the door for each of you containing more information than time will permit today, but I would like you to take a trip with me now an your new system. The employee or the executive in the Tishman Building on Wilshire Blvd. leaves his office and building at 5 o'clock. This is the time when everybody else is trying to find his car and move it out through the churning stop-and-go traffic toward his home.

Our commuter goes through the unobtrusive subway station entrance on the corner and takes the escalator to the brightly lighted, attractively decorated and tiled mezzanine. He does not need a timetable because trains operate at 90-second intervals in peak hours. He shows his individually coded credit card to the magic-eye fare computer, is admitted through the turnstile concourse and is taken by escalator quickly to the train platform.

A computer-tabulating device will automatically record his entrance and his exit and he will be billed automatically for his total mileage at the end of each month. He has missed his train, but in the time it takes to buy his newspaper, another train is there.

He enters quickly through one of the several entrance doors in the eight-car train as the train makes its 20-second stop. He seats himself comfortably in a wide contoured upholstered bucket-type seat. He is aware of the soft background music and the automatic announcement of travel information and station stops.

He is aware of the bright and beautiful and attractive interior and the diffused air conditioning without drafts. The fluorescent interior light is soft and without bright contrasts. The wide and deep windows provide a maximum view from the interior and through the whole train. They are safety-plate glass, tinted, laminated, and heat repellent.

Our friend can hear the soft background music or the conversation of his companion because the new vehicle was especially designed for interior quietness. It is virtually silent and vibration free. An insulated floor muffles any sounds from the wheel-track contact, and a skirt of special sound-suppressing construction runs the full length of the train to muffle and restrict the transmission of noise to those outside. The trucks are also equipped with vibration-isolating devices. Rubber insulation pads are used throughout the construction of all the auxiliary components.

The gear and compulsion components are of advanced quiet design. Our commuter is literally riding on air. An air spring control suspension system adjusts automatically at each load change in order that the car body level remains constant. He may not notice that the track incline is slightly downward leaving the station and slightly upward approaching each station to assist in smooth acceleration and dynamic braking.

The train accelerates quickly and moves swiftly from station to station governed entirely by a centrally located electronic computer -- a-la John Glenn. This automatic system is fail-safe. The MTA attendant is along mainly to reassure the passengers - our traveler moves at speeds above 70 miles an hour & even with stops, his average speed is 35 to 40 mph.

In the time I will spend telling you about the equipment and the system and in the time our commuter has taken to read his favorite newspaper, his station at Rosemead Boulevard has been called. He has traveled in subway from along Wilshire Boulevard through the downtown civic center area onto the median strip of the San Bernardino Freeway moving along freely on his private right-of-way while his neighbor on the freeway in the bumper-to-bumper struggle to get home hopes fervently that there will be enough highway funds next year to complete the Pomona and the Foothill Freeway so that these "other motorists will get off his freeway," --- or perhaps, he too, next time, will try the train. Our commuter will leave us at the Rosemead Blvd. station; walk over the outbound freeway lanes into the attractive and spacious station and free parking lot area.

Whether he is a park and ride or a kiss and ride commuter, or whether he travels from his home area to the rapid transit station on the frequent schedule of the feeder buses moving through the less congested suburban streets, he arrives at home comfortable and relaxed, and we know that he will be with us tomorrow morning, for he has learned that this new service is as simple to use as his new office elevator, and he knows that if he boards the train at 8:00 in the morning he can be at his desk by 8:30.

The trip has cost him the same as a 1963 bus fare. The 16 miles has been covered in 23 minutes with no traffic lights or Sig Alerts.

We have taken an imaginary trip today - the trip will actually be made by thousands of commuters in 1967. The Long Beach extension will be finished April 1967 - in time for the World's Fair. The whole 4-corridor system will be in service by July 1969. The rider may then move from UCLA, from north of North Hollywood, from East of El Monte, or from the Long Beach-San Pedro area to any one of 52 stations along the 4-corridor system.

Slimline Skyway structures with supports of light weight materials and pre-stressed members made possible by dramatic new construction techniques will grace and beautify the San Fernando Valley and Long Beach Lines.

The Wilshire Blvd. Line will be in subway - along the San Bernardino Freeway median strip, the train will travel at grade. A secondary distribution system will serve the growing Civic Center and the Bunker Hill high-rise redevelopment project. Hollywood - Beverly Hills - Monterey Park - Compton are some of the way points in the system which will take roughly half of its passengers along one leg or all the way through the congested central area.

Proposed Wilshire Western subway station

Construction of this system will be one of the largest projects ever carried out in Los Angeles County. It will provide employment for an average of 3,000 people annually over the six-year construction period. The peak labor force will reach 5, 000 during the height of construction. The project will require 220,000 tons of steel, 1,700,000 cubic yards of concrete, 2,000,000 barrels of cement, over 60,000,000 board feet of lumber, and almost $60,000,000 worth of electrical and electronic equipment.

Actual construction would begin early in 1964 following the preparation of final designs, purchasing of rights-of-way and the acceptance of contract bids. The first transit line would be in operation in October, 1966.

The system would be completed by July, 1969. The new system in Toronto, Canada has proved without question that a modern mass rapid transit system adds value to the surrounding property and the property it serves in a measurable and substantial way. That will happen also in Los Angeles. The real question comes - who is going to ride it. Who is going to get out of their car and actually ride a mass rapid transit system?

Your opinion and mine is only opinion and not dependable enough for an investment of this size. Just as any prudent businessman would do before starting a major project or marketing a new product, we have made a massive market survey. Some of this survey was made in cooperation with the City Traffic Department, the County Road Department, State Division of Highways, and others interested in an integrated transportation system.

We have employed also the best independent brains in the world with the greatest possible experience in projecting the number of passengers that would use such a facility. They have previously conservatively and successfully estimated and projected the traffic for the San Francisco Bay Bridge, the new Carquinez Bridge, the New Jersey Turnpike project, Sunshine Parkway project, and other similar projects. Their survey and study has been made in depth - and their opinion will sell bonds. The result, of our own modest efforts has also supplied reassuring evidence that people will leave their cars and ride new and modern and speedy service.

Three years ago we provided a freeway flyer from the San Fernando Valley. It began with 4 units and now some 15 units a day are required to handle the patronage on that single line. Wherever possible in the recent San Fernando Valley service improvements, MTA established express and limited service on principal lines. The response was immediate. On one line patronage increased 39% - on another, 32%. These are new riders who have left their cars in their garages to ride buses which cannot expect to compete in travel time with the automobile.

These and other experiences we have had recently encourage us greatly that the experts do know what they're talking about when they say that, with a modern and fast mass rapid transit system, many, many people will leave their cars at home at commuter time. If your travel requirements are such that you cannot and, therefore, will not use the system, remember that those who work with you, those who serve you in the stores, those who come to shop at your stores, those who work in your home, those that provide the services and goods will use it and, to the extent that they use it, they will make the freeways and surface streets free for your use.

Our rapid transit line can carry 5 times as many commuters and occupy only 1/4 the amount of right of way necessary for a modern six-lane automobile freeway. I say it can carry, because it can only carry those passengers if they ride the system, and that is the very reason that the system is designed to serve the congested area at commuter time. Such a service will help to relieve all traffic in the Los Angeles Basin. Off-peak service will be a community bonus. The mystery traffic jams on freeways are not mysteries to the transportation engineer. He knows that a completed street highway and freeway system plus a rapid transit system will answer most of those Sig Alerts. We might consider what the alternates are. Frankly, since the freeway system to serve the congested core area depends on one fundamental condition, more mass rapid transit in metropolitan areas; there is no satisfactory alternate.

The community cannot afford to build the additional freeways downtown that will be needed to carry only commuters. The high construction cost would delay the construction of many miles of freeway connecting links needed to complete the planned 1980 freeway, and needed to provide access and convenience in areas such as the Antelope Valley. These freeways are doing the job and more than the freeway planners expected but they need help at commuter time. We propose to give the community that help in the most modern, attractive, efficient, speedy, silent, and safe system that can be designed by the best talents available. The system has been laid out. It is the foundation of a total system that can be built and adapted with extensions as the population and traffic make it desirable.

It can be built, it must be built --- if not today, it will be built at a later time out of sheer desperation. What an opportunity we have to make Los Angeles the most convenient place in the world to live and be in business. May I now direct your attention and interest to Mr. Gerald Kelly, General Counsel of MTA who will answer the important question - what will it cost and how do we pay for it.


Overall, we can see that some of the age-old issues in Los Angeles transportation evolve very slowly. A perfect example of that from this same report would be rapid transit reaching from downtown to Westwood. Projected completion date: January, 1968.

Resource List:

Bibliography Of Los Angeles Transit And Transportation Studies, 1911-1957 (we provide full-text access to many of these studies)

Rapid Transit: ...A Reality (53p. PDF :Marketing packet, including maps, illustrations, texts of speeches, and other historic information)

Past Visions Of L.A.'s Transportation Future (Online gallery examining major plans and maps from 1925 to 2003)

Metro Transportation Library's LAMTA Flickr Photo Collection

Our Family Tree: Metro Predecessor Transit Agencies