3148 on Standard Gauge Trucks on the Long Beach Line

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority PCC no. 3148 rests on standard gauge trucks at Fairbanks Yard in Long Beach, part of a demonstration tour showing PCCs on the still-popular Long Beach Line of the former Pacific Electric.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

From Ralph Cantos:

LAMTA PCC “WHITE WASH” #3148 at Fairbanks Yard, Long Beach: For about 10 days in February 1960, the LAMTA pulled a publicity stunt by operating PCC #3148 up and down the Long Beach Line. The #3148 rode on a set of borrowed San Francisco Muni standard gauge trucks from MUNI PCC #1024. The MTA was hoping to give the traveling public that rode the beloved 50 year old RED CARS the impression that they wanted to retain rail service on the line. Even though the the BLIMPS were beat to HELL from years of deferred “maintenance”, the passengers that used the line wanted rail service retained, be it with the ever spacious and trusty BLIMPS, or what ever rail car the MTA could come up with.

In truth, the MTA really didn’t give a DAMN about retaining rail service along this very historic route. Even as these “tests” were going on, the MTA was drawing up plans and negotiating with General Motors to build 65 custom “new look” transit buses for the replacement motor coach service. Thirty five of the buses would have automatic transmissions for the local service, and thirty of the new buses would be stick shifts for the planned “Freeway Flyer” service.

The MTA knew that the displaced rail car passengers would not be pleased with standard city transit buses, no mater how new they were. So the MTA using its considerable clout, persuaded GM to build “special custom Los Angeles only” buses. The automatics would be numbered #5225 to #5255. The sticks shifts would be numbered #5500 to #5534. What made these bus so special is that on the out side they looked like the standard two door city transit bus. However, the interior was another matter. The displaced rail passengers would be treated to deluxe, all forward facing high back seats mounted on a raised floor. This type of interior was typically used on GM’s up scale “suburban” type buses.

After all the “BS” the LAMTA spewed out to the the LA and Long Beach press about wanting to retain rail service, they set the abandonment date of April 9, 1961, proclaiming that the PE/SP would not renew the lease on the tracks and right of way. The MTA had the power to force the PE/SP to make the tracks available if they were really sincere about retaining rail service. BUT the LAMTA was created to do what Metropolitan Coach Lines and National City Lines could not do because of PUC intervention, and that was to do away with ALL rail transportation in Los Angeles. When the MTA finished off the the San Pedro / Watts and Long Beach lines, they went after the PCC operated rail lines R-S-J-V and P lines. And as good old Paul Harvey would always say, “And now you know the rest of the story”.

Ralph Cantos Collection

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Showing 3 comments
  • Duncan Still

    I’ve seen photos of 3048 in the Main Street Station tracks facing east, towards San Pedro St.during this “experiment”. At this late date, I believe all of the surface trackage on 7th St. and connections thereto had been abandoned, so how was 3048 turned? It must have been “wyed” somewhere and then backed into the terminal, but where?

    • Ralph Cantos

      The #3148 may have been turned a 9th and Hoper at the top of the 4 tracks. There was some electrified track on the NORTH side of 9th st.

  • Riley G.

    I heard the lightweight car ran very rough on the bad track. I understand PCCs were made for smooth, sold. very even track. Even the blimps bounced around going downhill on the north side of the Firestone overpass.

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