George Takei is known to most people as Mr. Sulu, helmsman of the fictional starship USS Enterprise on the television series Star Trek.
The native Angeleno also served on the Board of Directors of the Southern California Rapid Transit District from 1973 to 1984.
He was appointed to the Board by Mayor Tom Bradley. The Board was comprised of an appointee from each of the five County Board of Supervisors, two appointees of the mayor of Los Angeles, and four appointees of the City Selection Committee representing the other municipalities within Los Angeles County contained in the District.
George Takei was called away from the set of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1978 to cast the tie-breaking vote for the creation of Metro Rail, Los Angeles’ heavy rail transit system.
In May, 1984, veteran SCRTD Board members Takei and Ruth E. Richter were replaced by attorney Carmen A. Estrada and public affairs director Norm Emerson.
Although his tenure on the Board ended in 1984, he remained a staunch advocate for public transit. He is featured in this 1984 promotion for the Milwaukee County Transit System.
In 1989, he helped SCRTD celebrate the launch of new methanol-powered buses (beginning at 2:20 mark).
Takei is an Angeleno through and through. He graduated Los Angeles High School in 1956, received his Bachelor of Arts in Theater Arts from UCLA in 1960, and his Master of Arts in Theater Arts from UCLA in 1964.
He has completed five 26.2-mile marathons (including the very first Los Angeles Marathon in 1985), and carried the Olympic Flame in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Torch Relay.
On October 30, 1986, Takei received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
He was surrounded by co-stars, fans, and SCRTD colleagues as he joked, “There it is, my good name for everyone to walk all over.”
Takei reflected on his role in bringing rail transit to Los Angeles in a 2008 interview with Metro Weekly. He explained:
I was an active advocate for building the subway. When we started construction, I thought, ”I’m a good public servant, but I also have to maintain a professional career.” I went to Mayor Bradley and said, ”An actor doesn’t have to be wildly popular, but he cannot afford to be hated. And if you’re blocking traffic or impacting retail areas with construction work….” I didn’t want to see [picket] lines in front of my home saying, ”You’ve ruined my business” or ”You’re destroying our neighborhood.” So I resigned after 11 years. And how right my antennae were, because there were all sorts of disasters during construction. There were no injuries, but there were incredible cost overruns.
It’s vital to the mobility of our city. And people are now discovering, in fact, our urban planning is developing in concert with our subway system. We have new retail and condo and apartment projects going up at our subway stations. Hollywood and Vine is going to get a W Hotel. At Vermont and Wilshire, we have a major residential complex going up. That makes sense. You wake up in the morning, take your elevator ride straight down to the subway station, then take the subway downtown where all the offices and jobs are.
On September 30, 2014, Takei served as the Master of Ceremonies for the ground breaking of Metro’s Regional Connector Project. The complete history of the planning and construction of the project can be found here. An overview of the ground breaking ceremonies and speeches can be found here.
Takei returned to the Regional Connector project by again serving as Master of Ceremonies for its official opening on June 16, 2023.