PE #428-LAMTA #1537: Mayhem on Long Beach Blvd.

By Ralph Cantos

Although almost 50 years separate these two photos, the results are the same, the destruction of two Ford vehicles. A wise man once said, “never assume anything.”  Such was the case in these two accidents.

The 1959 accident on Long Beach Blvd. near Pacific Coast Highway involving MTA no. 1537 (PE no. 428) happened when northbound 1537 was rolling along at about 35 mph. An 85-year-old lady driving a 1955 Ford Mainline stalled as she was making a left turn in front of the approaching 1537.

Possibly because she was wearing high heal “stilettos”, she “popped the clutch” and came to a stop, across the tracks. The motorman of 1537, seeing the Ford stopped across the tracks ahead of him, “assumed” the Ford would get out of his way.

Unfortunately , that did not happen. By the time the motorman of 1537 realized the Ford was not going to move out of the way of his fast-approaching Blimp, it was too late. He threw the 1537 in emergency braking (The Big Hole) but it was too little, too late.

The 1537 was almost completely stopped when it hit the Ford, but the results speak for themselves. The lady driver was a bit shaken up, but none the worse for what had just happened.

In the end, the MTA and the motorman were found at fault. The 1537’s motorman should not have “assumed” that the Ford would get out of his way in time.

In the case of the Long Beach Police car, the officer driving code 3, “assumed” that the fast-approaching Blue Line train would pull over to the curb and give him the right of way.

Well as can be seen , that did not happen, sending another Ford to Terminal Island. Of interest to car guys, the Ford Mainline was the entry-level model. The only chrome on the car were the bumpers and door handles. No radio, no heater, “dog dish hub caps,” a 6 cylinder inline motor and stick shift trans. were standard.


In another “never assume anything” incident, , LATL PCC no. 3035 was the victim of this unfortunate encounter with a Santa Fe switcher just outside Vernon Yard.

For  an unknown reason, PCC  3035 became inoperable while at Vernon Yard. A “Big Bertha” tow truck was dispatched from South Parks Shops to tow the 3035 back to the repair shop. The Big Bertha began to tow the 3035 back to South Park Shop when the Big Bertha with 3035 in tow, became mired in the  gravel right of way at the Santa Fe crossing and stalled. The hapless 3035 was directly in the center of the diamond. The engineer of an approaching  Santa Fe local freight saw the 3035 directly in front of his train, but he “assumed” the 3035 would clear the crossing in time.

Well, once again, that did not happen. The Santa Fa switcher “T BONED” the 3035 flipping her on the side and causing extensive damage. Later that day, the 3035 was righted and brought back to Vernon Yard where she was scrapped on the spot. The 3035 was the only LA PCC lost in action.


The 3035 sits in the dirt at Vernon Yard day after the accident. After insurance photos were taken, she was cut up on the spot.

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    Yet another demonstration of the old axiom “never ASSUME – It makes an @ss out of U and ME!” 😉

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