January 14: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History

1929:  The world’s first pedestrian-activated push-button traffic control  device is installed at the intersection of Figueroa Street and Meridian Street in front of Luther Burbank Junior High School.

The impetus came from Ralph Dorsey, the first traffic engineer for the City of Los Angeles.  Dorsey had analyzed accident statistics for the first ten months of 1928.  He concluded that there were no school pedestrian deaths where traffic signals had been installed.  Within a few months, 15 new “self-serve” signals were installed adjacent to other schools and soon became a standard traffic control device for school-age and adult pedestrians.

More information can be found in the “Pedestrian Push Buttons” entry in Transportation Topics and Tales: Milestones in Transportation History in Southern California by John E. Fisher.

1992:  Southern California Rapid Transit District Board Member Nick Patsaouras unveils a proposal to create a local economic development corporation that would build a rail car and bus assembly plant in Los Angeles County.

The proposed corporation would be an adjunct to the proposed Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The proposal, strongly supported by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, suggests the facility also be used as a transportation think tank where experts gather to consider intelligent vehicle/highway systems, system-level mobility concepts, passenger safety, energy efficiency, development of robotics and exploration of user-vehicle-facility relationships.

More information can be found in the February, 1992 issue of Headway, the Southern California Rapid Transit District employee news magazine.