Take A Ride On The Last Red Car Line Before It Closes This Weekend
L.A.'s last remaining Red Car line will close this Sunday and the future of the iconic streetcar remains uncertain.
The replica versions of the historic Red Cars—which once carried Angelenos around the city and beyond for decades—have been running along a 1.5 mile rail line along the San Pedro waterfront since 2003. But after this weekend, the two cars will stop operating to make way for construction along the waterfront, according to City News Service. Despite efforts by city officials, Metro, local preservationists and even one of the Red Car train conductors to delay the closure, operation will cease for at least 18 months. And there's no solid plan for what to do with the train after a portion of the rail line is removed permanently as Samson Way—which the line bisects—is realigned.
Officials from the Port of Los Angeles—which operates the Red Car line—have argued that rebuilding the tracks elsewhere would be too costly. The Red Car line—which was built on century-old existing tracks in 2003—cost $10 million dollars and was the first time the city had seen the Red Cars operating since they ran in most major areas of Los Angeles and San Bernardino from 1902 to the early '60s. The challenge, according to Port officials, is not just the cost of relocating the line—which could cost an estimated $40 million now, reports KCET, but operational costs in the face of dwindling ridership.
"Nobody really wants to see it go, it's just a matter of what's financially feasible and realistic," Rachel Campbell, spokesperson for the Port, tells LAist. "We're open to suggestions and solutions, but either way we have to suspend it for this project."
On Thursday, L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe asked Metro's CEO Phil Washington to urge the Port to delay closure of the Red Line—or at least the portions not affected by construction, reports City News Service. A petition of about 6,000 signatures was also sent to Metro, urging the board to step in and save the line, but neither effort seems to have worked at this point.
The support for the Red Car line to operate after Sunday is no doubt there—but like the efforts to reopen downtown's Angel's Flight railway, also first built in 1902, funding and red tape seem to be standing in the way.
Even Mayor Garcetti supports the effort:
The more we make it practical and something people use, and maybe even a future alignment that takes it into places that (make the line something) even people in San Pedro use would do history the best justice, because the Red Car used to go places people needed to go.
Anyone looking to take a ride on San Pedro's Red Car line before it closes can head down this weekend to The Port Of Los Angeles Lobster Festival. The trolley will be running all weekend until an hour after the festival ends and until 9 p.m. on Sunday.