Southern California’s Biggest Mistake

Pacific Electric Railway cars - Terminal Island, California U.S.A. - 1956

Pacific Electric Railway cars – Terminal Island, California U.S.A. – 1956
Found via Historical Times on Tumblr

Pushed by intense lobbying (and more than occasional out-and-out bribery) from corporations such as General Motors and Firestone, the City of Los Angeles and other regional governments in the area not only abandoned plans to place commuter rail lines in the middle of the proposed freeway system but killed off all the existing mass transit rail lines as well. The system that once ran all the way east to San Bernardino is now being rebuilt at a turtle’s pace with only a lucky few cities to be served and costs likely to run into the billions of dollars. Meanwhile, Southern California is now well into its sixth decade of the consequences of corporate greed that wanted to force everybody to have a car: pollution, excessive commute times, increased accidents, higher expenses for the poor, and insane property values.

While I’m certain the greater Los Angeles area would still have gone car crazy and caused traffic to be hideous at all our various bottlenecks, just think how much better things would be if commuter rail had been a part of regional planning at the dawn of the freeway era. Instead, we let greed rule the day and left people with the option of buying and maintaining a car or using a highly inefficient bus system that so often runs behind time that many SoCal employers won’t consider hiring somebody that uses it.

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