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With a new administration in D.C., it's time to think outside of the box because passenger rail's survival just may depend on it

Friday, January 10, 2014

Alternative history #6

Los Angeles builds its subways much earlier, keeps its streetcars, and is actually the beacon for transit in America

Point of Departure
Throughout the 20th century

The Kelker & DeLeuw Subway Plan is gradually rolled out in 1925 after voters narrowly ignore entrenched interests' opposition. Due to this type of forward thinking, 90% of the subway system is completed by the time mass transit is transferred from the private sector to the public in the 1960s.

Henry Huntington is forced to give up some of his streetcar routes to Southern Pacific so there'd be competition. When all streetcars are handed over to MTA, only the easternmost suburbs see buses supplant routes.

Joseph Strauss continues the Airtram idea is continued after George Rowan's death in 1936--but it's built after World War II. Meanwhile, the Carveyor was built in the 1960s. The People Mover is connected to MTA's plan to serve LAX, which is a lot more architecturally creative and has been the world's busiest airport since the 1984 Summer Olympics.

A reduced monorail system is built until former Mayor Antonio Villarogosa made completing it a part of his 30/10 plan for MTA in 2010.

Maglev right of way is in place between Ontario Airport and west Los Angeles but funding is still scarce.

Today’s Likely Outcome
The Subway Plan came to full fruition by the early 1980s--the delay was due to MTA wanting to "spread the wealth" with other transit modes. 

The entire streetcar system is nicknamed "Red Cars" in honor of Huntington's Pacific Electric. The Red Cars are very popular--even more popular than San Francisco's cable cars. L.A. is the only U.S. city where rail-based modeprovide more transit mileage than buses.

SP's Burbank Branch Line has served streetcars since 1938. Light rail, while a part of the MTA system, is primarily a suburban system.

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