LAMTA 3028: A Barn Fresh Surprise!
By Ralph Cantos
When the first LAMTA (Many Trolley Abandonments) seized control of LA’s transit operations on March 3, 1958, the first major announcement to affect rail operations was that all rail cars numbered below numbers 2000 were doomed.
The Hollywood cars were quickly renumbered into the 1800s and the Blimps were renumbered into 15- and 1700 numbers. The LATL H class died with their 1400 number boots on.
LA rail fans were lulled into a false sense of euphoria when just one month after “the great merger of 1958,” PCCs began to sport the MTA’s two tone green paint. Car maintenance continued at high levels to the very end. Even the most optimistic rail fan, myself included, were foolish enough to think that LA’s streetcar system, the best maintained in the United States, would be around for decades to come, yah- right.
At the end of September 1958, PCCs took over service on the S line and the H class cars, all in mint condition, were scrapped. Just before the conversion of the S line, there were about 10 air-electric PCCs in storage since 1956 at Division One. All 10 cars were pulled out of storage, run through the car washer, given a quick safety check and returned to service.
In this photo taken by me on the last day fan trip for the H class cars on September 21, 1958, with the #1387, we had just pulled into the J line terminal at Jefferson & 10th Ave. And there, much to my surprise and shock, was the “barn fresh” #3028 still sporting its LATL emblem, BUT even more of a surprise was that the 3028 still retained its factory front and rear streamline moldings and opening front windshield with 4 blade “horizontal- sweep” wipers.
The 3028 WAS THE VERY LAST LA PCC to have these factory items. The LATL had began a program to remove the moldings and seal the windshields back in 1954. Like any “rebuilding program,” there is always the first car and the LAST car to be modified. The 3028 had been placed into storage before the two changes were performed. Being a PCC fan, I disapproved of both modifications, but who am I to judge. Anyway, there was the 3028 in all her original form. I took several photos for posterity.
The next time I saw the 3028, she was sporting the LAMTA “GOOSE EGG” logo and painted green. She remained in service to the end. And on March 31, 1963 , the finest fleet of PCCs in the USA made their last runs and place into dead storage to await sale . All the while, DECREPIT, poorly maintained PCCs continued to operate in such rust belt cities as St. Louis, Pittsburg, Philadelphia, and Boston. Where is the justification?
Ralph Cantos Collection
Interestingly enough, except for Boston, the cities listed all had wider than standard gauge tracks. And if the trucks to convert the LA PCCs to standard or broad gauge had been available, how long before the conditions in those cities would turn the fine PCCs of salt-free LA into rusty relics? Much as we love streetcars, I have to remember that by going all-bus, the transit operating entity can lay off the track gangs and overhead line crews. I’ve read that in several cities, the transit managements have had to be arm-wrestled into accepting light rail as the way to improve their systems, because trains add unwanted complication to their lives.
In addition to laying off track gangs and overhead line crews as mentioned above, by going all bus and abandoning trackage and overhead wires, the transit companies would significantly reduce their property and inventory tax bills. By moving to buses, the transit companies avoided the maintenance expense of tracks and overhead and instead operate on streets which were owned and maintained by the public.
Lets take the layoffs a step further?
There must have been 25-35 interlocking towers manned 24/7 during PE’s heyday. Think of the number of signal maintainers needed to maintain not only those towers and their interlocking signals, but all of the automatic block signals. How many THOUSAND wig wags? A switchtender at Indian Village, and another at the bottom of the ramp. There appear to have been 17 manual electric substations which would have to have had three operators daily, seven days a week. How many train dispatchers?