October 29: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History

1901:  Henry Huntington incoporates the Pacific Electric Railway.

Pacific Electric Watts Line, circa 1902 (Click for more information)

The real estate tycoon consolidated many smaller, independent railroads, then tried (but failed) to gain control of the Southern Pacific Railroad founded by his uncle, Collis P. Huntington.

A decade later, Southern Pacific bought several additional railways and conbined their service under the Pacific Electric name.

This event, known as “The Great Merger,” left Huntington in control of the Los Angeles Railway, the narrow-gauge street car system known locally as the “Yellow Cars.”

2000:  LACMTA launches expanded express bus service to dramatically increase passenger service and establish the Harbor Transitway as a major public transit corridor.

The new express operation is expected to increase passenger service by more than 18,000 hours annually — a major expansion that’s in keeping with the extension of Metro Rail service to North Hollywood and the start of two Metro Rapid bus lines earlier this year. The express service will inaugurate the two new Pacific Coast Highway and Carson Street bus stations on Sunday. The line also provides access to Gardena Memorial Hospital through a connection with Gardena Transit Line 3 at Gardena Boulevard and Main Street.

More information about the expanded Harbor Transitway Express Service can be found in the October 27, 2000 issue of MyMetro employee news publication.

2002:  The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority approves a plan to expand bicycle access on Metro Rail trains to aid patrons who are bike commuters.

Under the revised LACMTA Bike on Rail Policy adopted by the Board, patrons using bicycles will no longer need a permit to board trains.

In addition, the hours of bike restrictions on Metro Rail trains will be reduced by one hour in the morning peak periods and two hours in the afternoon peak periods.

2005:  The Metro Orange Line opens, with 83,000 riders in just its first weekend.

(Click for more information)

The 14-mile dedicated bus rapid transit line begins operations in the San Fernando Valley between North Hollywood and Warner Center in Woodland Hills.

The Orange Line is built on part of the former Southern Pacific Railroad Burbank Branch Line right-of-way.

The rail line provided passenger service between 1904 and 1920, while Pacific Electric provided service along it from North Hollywood to Van Nuys again from 1938 to 1952.

The right-of-way was purchased by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission in 1991 along with other railroad rights-of-way across the County for future use in transportation projects.

Planners envisioned an extension of the Metro Red Line subway, but high subway construction costs and other considerations eventually led to development of a dedicated busway.

(Click for more information)

The Orange Line uses “Metro Liners,” 60-foot articulated buses that carry approximately 50% more passenger capacity than standard buses.

In January 1999, a delegation of 24 civic leaders and transportation planners visited Curitiba, Brazil to investigate that city’s innovative bus rapid transit system.

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, County Supervisor Yvonne Braithwaite-Burke and others went on an intense two-day visit to investigate the “subway on wheels” in Curitiba, where the transit system is credited with contributing to the city’s livability and economic success.

The following two-part video documents that visit and explains the bus rapid transit concept.

An Orange Line extension from Warner Center to Chatsworth opened on June 30, 2012.

More information regarding the dedication ceremonies can be found here.

Scenes from the opening weekend’s activities can be found here.

Additional information about the team who made it happen and how the Orange Line represents many Los Angeles County “firsts” can be found here.