August 1: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History

1906:  Pacific Electric Railways hires its first clerk for its Information Bureau.

Sybil Mather at the Information Desk, 1929 (Click for more information)

Mrs. F.P. (Sybil Mather) Raymer worked hard and under difficult conditions to make the Information Bureau a resource for anything tourists wanted to know about Southern California until her retirement in 1946, after 39 years of service.  The concept is carried through to the present day, with Metro’s Call Center now serving customers not only in Los Angeles County, but also in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties.

More information can be found in the July 26, 2006 issue of the MyMetro employee news publication.
1944:  Los Angeles Railway hires its first African-American conductor, Arcola Philpott.

Arcola Philpott

Arcola Philpott, 1913-1991 (Click for more information)

The race and gender integration of Los Angeles’ streetcar and bus operators is negotiated by the Rev. Clayton Russell’s Los Angeles Negro Victory Committee, the AFL-CIO, the NAACP, the Fair Employment Practices Commission and the reform-minded Los Angeles Mayor Fletcher Bowron.

This action represents a major change from past practices across the nation during World War II and Los Angeles was no exception.

Arcola Philpott, first African-American streetcar operator in Los Angeles, taken December 12, 1946 (Click for more information)

Arcola Philpott lived near Central Avenue and Adams Boulevard.  She drove the Vermont streetcar line out of the Arthur Winston Division 5 from Union Station to 116th/Vermont, traveling up Santa Barbara (now Martin Luther King Boulevard).  She also worked at the Brown Derby Restaurant.

Philpott later passes away in Chicago on May 14, 1991.  More information about her and African Americans in Los Angeles transit history can be found in the March 24, 2005 issue of the MyMetro employee news digest.
1968:  Governor Ronald Reagan signs AB101, the Lanterman Public Transportation Financing Bill, placing Proposition A on the November 5, 1968 Los Angeles County Ballot on behalf of Southern California Rapid Transit District.

Arcadia Tribune, August 8, 1968, p. 12

The bill proposed providing SCRTD with $2.5 billion through a half cent sales tax increase to finance the construction of 89 miles of rail rapid transit throughout Los Angeles.

With relatively uncrowded freeways at the time, the ballot initiative failed.  The new mass transit system that had been in various stages of planning since the creation of the MTA in 1951 would have to wait.

Voters changed their minds and passed a broader sales tax measure for transportation projects in 1980 and again in 1990.