After Henry E. Huntington’s purchase of 27 acres in the surrounding area, Los Angeles Railway developed 8.7 acres as a rail operating division with a massive brick car house similar to those at other divisions built by Mr. Huntington.
Much of the land was purchased from the Gay family. Gay Street, a street bordering the Division, commemorates the family’s past land ownership in the area.
This allowed for ’round the clock service, including “owl” streetcar (and later bus) service. Owl service has been in continuous operation from Division 3 since opening day, connecting the downtown central business district with neighborhoods to its north and east.
Lines operated included:
A – Lincoln Park to Alsace & Adams
5 – Eagle Rock to Hawthorne
O – Bellevue to Florence
W – Highland Park to West Washington Blvd.
9 – Crenshaw Blvd. & 48th St. to Mission Rd (Lincoln Park)
10 – Arlington to Kensington
Total: 504, 779 service miles per month.
In 1942, Division 3, along with Division 5 (now known as the Arthur Winston Division), had the honor of hosting many of the first women Operators, known as Motormanettes, hired to replace men drafted during WWII.
Los Angeles was a transit industry leader in hiring women as replacement workers, a practice that led to changes in state law that had previously placed limits on working hours for women. The transit industry soon followed Los Angeles’ lead in providing new employment opportunities for women nationwide.
At the end of 1944, the Henry Huntington Estate sold its majority interest in Los Angeles Railway to National City Lines, who renamed the service as Los Angeles Transit Lines. They continued to run the Yellow Cars while cutting operating and capital costs.
At that time, fares were still set by the California Public Utilities Commission in Sacramento, and fares had been held down to seven cents for the prior 18 years, making capital improvement to the aging rail system a financial challenge.
Los Angeles Transit Lines assigned motor coaches (buses) to Division 3 November 22, 1945 and Division 3 became one of the divisions operating both bus and rail service simultaneously from the same location.
At this time the division had approximately 120 rail cars, 118 buses, and employed 550 operators, conductors and motormen, many of them from the surrounding neighborhoods that also employed railroad workers at nearby Taylor Yard.
In 1946, the Ways and Structures streetcar system maintenance work done from the once vast 22 acre Vernon Yard (in the city of Vernon) was squeezed into the north end of Division 3 and became known as the Pepper Street maintenance yard. In 1948, Division 3 operated 4,333,403 rail miles and 3,933,365 bus miles.
Division 3 became a bus-only division when rail service was discontinued 48 years after it began from that location, on May 21, 1955.
In 1956, the Ways and Structures work at Division 3’s Pepper Street Yard was moved back to a much smaller 5.2 acre Vernon Yard creating additional space needed for expanded bus service operating from Division 3. 16.8 acres of Vernon Yard had been sold to raise additional funds.
Los Angeles Transit Lines was acquired by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (LAMTA) on March 3, 1958 when LAMTA became L.A.’s first publicly governed transit operating agency. LAMTA began making system improvements while studying a new mass transit system for Los Angeles.
The Division 3 Transportation building was rebuilt at a cost of $63,000 and reopened on May 8, 1959, complete with air-conditioning. In 1960, Division 3 was equipped with 235 buses and 215 operators.
Due to structural damage in the 1970 Sylmar earthquake, the last brick streetcar barn from the original Los Angeles Railway era had to be demolished.
In 1975, the successful MiniBus service in downtown Los Angeles that had begun as an experiment in 1971, required installation of an 18,000 gallon propane tank to service the alternative fueled MiniBus vehicles. The MiniBus service was acquired by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation in 1987 and continues to operate as today’s DASH service.
A new $1.4 million maintenance building opened in April 1977, and other division buildings were refurbished in 1979 at a cost of $2.3 million. An employee parking structure was completed in 1985.
In 2002, Metro created the sector concept for transit service, bringing transit users closer to the decision-making process for transit service and scheduling.
In 2005, Division 3 began a 90 day pilot program of DriveCam. DriveCam is a video recording device mounted on the windshield near the rearview mirror that records the action inside and outside the vehicle just as the driver sees it.
The system is activated electronically when a “g” force parameter is exceeded, or manually by the operator via a panic button. The successful test at Division 3 subsequently led to the program’s deployment at other Divisions and on the Metro Orange Line to assist with accident investigation and risk management.
As of 2007, Metro Division 3 employs a total of 341 full time operators, 58 part time operators, 13 Transportation Supervisors, 62 mechanics, 37 service attendants and other support staff keeping a fleet of 224 clean-air buses operating over 57,000 service hours per month, under the management of Dan Frawley, Transportation, Cliff Thorne, Maintenance, and General Manager Jack Gabig.