“The Definitive History of How Rail Returned to the City of Angels”

Christopher MacKechnie pens a positive and knowledgeable review of Railtown for About.com’s Public Transport. MacKechnie is clearly well-steeped in this history, having worked for transit agencies in Los Angeles.

In addition to summarizing the key points of the story and argument, he adds some extra color to my discussion of the Orange Line in the San Fernando Valley:

[County Supervisor] Yaroslavsky in the past has been against [rail], most particularly in the form of opposition to construction of a light rail line along what is now the Orange Bus Rapid Transit Line – opposition that enabled a state bill being passed that prevented the construction of a rail line in the area. Riders of the Orange Line, which is now at capacity because signal priority does not work when buses run most often than about every five minutes, rue that decision every time they are packed in the vehicle.

I have a different take on one of his conclusions though. He singles out the two most important people in LA’s rail history as Mayors Tom Bradley and Antonio Villaraigosa. I would replace Villaraigosa with Supervisor Kenny Hahn, who got the first sales tax measure for rail transit approved in 1980. Villaraigosa helped with the most recent Measure R tax approval in 2008, but 1) the system was already in existence and 2) he benefited from Metro’s improved reputation in the 2000s and public amnesia over the subway construction mishaps of the 1990s.

MacKechnie also criticizes my subtitle, wondering why I put “the” before “Los Angeles Metro Rail.” I’m not sure what to make of this, but it just doesn’t sound right to leave out the “the.” There are also a number of Metro Rails around the world, and so I used “Los Angeles” almost as an adjective in this context.

But overall, I appreciate his review and devotion to transit in Los Angeles.


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