Division 12 (Long Beach)

The Pacific Electric Railway owned two rail yards in Long Beach as part of its Southern Division, the Fairbanks Yard for maintenance work and the Morgan Yard at the end of the line.

The Long Beach line was the second major interurban railway opened by Pacific Electric (Pasadena to Los Angeles was the first), opening on July 4, 1902.

The interurban system would eventually peak at 1,100 track miles, and then rapidly decline post WWII with rail being replaced by buses when the rail system’s private owners were short on capital funds.

Pacific Electric sold all of its passenger service to Metropolitan Coach Lines (1953-1958) in 1953, and Long Beach was officially opened as a division point on January 30, 1955 giving it control over outlying service terminals at Fullerton, Newport Beach and Santa Ana for motor coach service and Watts for local rail service.

In 1955, the Long Beach Division had approximately 60 rail cars, 50 motor coaches and 215 operators assigned.,

On March 3, 1958, Metropolitan Coach Lines was purchased, along with Los Angeles Transit Lines, by L.A.’s first publicly governed transit agency, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority.

This made the LAMTA the main transit service provider for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

The Long Beach Divison was re-christened as Division 12.

Many of the Division numbers we still use today came from LAMTA, who also re-named the El Monte Division as Division 9 and West Hollywood as Division 7 around this same time.

In early 1959, the City of Long Beach and LAMTA worked out a land swap deal moving Division 12 to an equal sized property a little further east where Long Beach Division 12 stands today.

Unfortunately, LAMTA also had to operate 100% from its farebox revenues alone, there were no operating or capital subsidies available from state or federal governments for mass transit, putting the capital replacement costs for the five remaining rail lines in Los Angeles out of reach.

Although the new public transit agency was tasked with planning and implementing a new mass transit system for Los Angeles, it didn’t have the power of eminent domain, to raise tax revenues, or hold voter referendums.

LAMTA didn’t have much vocal public support for preserving rail service at the time, and after 59 years of rail service between Los Angeles and Long Beach, the last “Red Carran on April 8, 1961.

Division 12 was converted to a motor coach division with 85 motor coaches and 151 operators assigned.

At the urging of community leaders who wanted better traffic solutions, a more representative board of directors, and the power to finance and build a mass transit system, State Senator Rees (D-Beverly Hills) sponsored a bill to form the Southern California Rapid Transit District (1964-1993) as a more powerful successor agency to LAMTA.

On April 27, 1966 SCRTD opened a newly re-built all motorcoach Division 12 with a community open house.

The transportation building was remodeled in 1981 and the maintenance building improved in 1989.

Rail service was restored between Los Angeles and Long Beach with the opening of the Metro Blue Line in 1990, however, rail would not share the bus yard as it did in decades past under Pacific Electric, Metropolitan Coach Lines, and LAMTA. A new light rail maintenance facility was constructed specifically for the Metro Blue Line in Carson and named Division 11.

In May 1997, it was recommended that Long Beach Division 12 change over to a support and storage facility, ending revenue bus service in order to cut costs during an ongoing budget shortfall.

The Board of Directors adopted the recommendation and the division was closed as an active Division on June 30, 1997.

At the time is was closed, it was anticipated that the sale of the yard might generate $1-2 million, and keeping it as a storage yard would allow for savings of $1.5 million annually in reduced staffing and bus deadhead costs, with bus service relocated to other operating divisions.

In 2006, Metro Long Beach Division 12’s 5.05 acre site was sold to the City of Long Beach for $3.95 million.

It will become part of an expanded greenbelt park project in a area that formerly had little green space for residents. It will connect two Westside parks with landscaped bike trails, pedestrian walkways, and coastal wetland areas with green space along the Los Angeles River.

Other parcels to be purchased for the project include Union Pacific properties and the former Pacific Electric Fairbanks yard.