A Bleak Future Awaits

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

Like some animal or human being caught up in a slave labor situation, PE no. 5144 (now operated by “slave masters” Metropolitan Coach Lines) is beginning to show the effects of a 100% lack of cosmetic maintenance policy. It’’s the summer of 1954, and the once-lustrous red and orange paint on 5144 is starting to fade. The entire infrastructure of the once well maintained Pacific Electric Railway is now going completely to HELL, as evident by the condition of the right-of-way here at Gardner Jct.

Every piece of rolling stock on both the Southern and Western Districts was now on an “RTF” (run til failure) operational policy. If any Hollywood car or Blimp had any mayor mechanical or body calamity, its days as an operational vehicle were over! Only the PCCs on the Burbank line were given any type of body repair by the shop forces at the Toluca Yard “Central Maintenance Facility”.

MCL’s owner Jessie Haugh was Hell bent on destroying the last remnants of the once great Pacific Electric Railway. Try as he did, he could only scuttle the Western District. As hard as he tried, the Southern District held on under dire “maintenance” conditions. The final death blow to the Southern District was left to the first LAMTA.

After the abandonment of the Hollywood Blvd line in September of 1954, the service life of 5144 was over, with the front gate of National Metals & Steel on Terminal Island awaiting the arrival of 5144 and about 100 of its sister Hollywood cars. Only a hand full of Hollywoods still in service on the Glendale – Burbank and Watts lines remained in service. By the end of 1960, the days of most of those remaining Hollywood cars was over too.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Robert Hernandez


  • Dr. Edsel

    Haugh had nothing to do with Yellow Cars.
    He sold Metropolitan Coach Lines out in March, 1958.
    As far as the PE Western District, PE wanted to be rid of all passenger service before Haugh came along. Look at all the lines they abandoned between 1949 and 1953. If PE had their way, there would have been nothing left for Haugh to abandon.

    • Ralph Cantos

      The PE abandoned the Northern District BECAUSE THE HIGHWAY DEPT. and The City Of LA ganged up on the PE and through the RAILWAY off the ALISO ST bridge, the VERY same bridge that the PE helped pay for just 7 years before. The Highway Dept. told the PE that if they wanted to continue rail service to the Northern District, then the RAILWAY would have to relocate their tracks. Where the HELL was the PE, a private company , going to come up with hundreds of thousands dollars to pay for the track relocation. If you were the PE , what the HELL would you have done? The CITY OF LOS ANGELES DID NOT GIVE A DAMN about the PE. The City sucked the PE dry with over inflated property taxes, and the forced maintenance of PUBLIC streets where the PE opoerated , streets that were once private right-of-ways, that THE CITY took away from the PE forcing the big interurbans to do battle with private automobiles on streets that the PE was forced to pave and maintaine. In short, the PE got the ROYAL SHAFT. The PE was screwed BY EACH AND EVERY CITY that the RAILWAY helped to build!!!!

  • Tito Davila

    Glad Ralph Cantos mentioned the public sector’s culpability in the demise of the PE. At the time, public transportation was still seen as a private for-profit business, instead of a public service. The post war trolley systems needed massive capital investments to renew rolling stock and infrastructure and private companies were not going to invest in a business that lost money as it competed against the growing presence of the automobile. Sad to say, bus replacement or total abandonment was the answer. Public tax dollars were not going to be invested in those mass transit systems. Of course now billions are beings spent to make up for part of what was lost.

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