Pacific Electric Railway in brief

The Pacific Electric Ry. was an extensive electrified freight and commuter railway centered in Los Angeles, with over 200 route miles of commuter lines. Pacific Electric -- a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) -- had been formed in 1910 from the merger of several Southern California electric railways that had been bought up by SP.

The electrified commuter railway operations were basically intact until 1950, and then were progressively dismantled in the '50s. SP-controlled management pushed for replacement of trains with buses from the late '30s onward due to persistent financial losses from rail passenger service.

In 1953 Pacific Electric sold its remaining passenger operations to Metropolitan Coach Lines (MCL). Part of the sale agreement was that MCL would continue to push for replacement of rail operations with buses on city streets, thus freeing PE's tracks for unimpeded movement of profitable freight trains.

The Pacific Electric was also the third-largest railway in California in terms of freight cars handled, ranking ahead of Union Pacific or Western Pacific in traffic within California. In particular, PE was the main carrier of carload freight to and from the combined ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, handling 35% of all harbor-related traffic. In 1947 PE made a profit of about 6% on invested capital from its rail freight operations.

PE also was a part of the nation-wide Railway Express Agency system, and distributed package and less-than-carload freight to outlying towns in trolley box motors from its hub at 8th & Alameda Sts. and the REA offices at Union Station. Carload freight operations were converted to diesel by 1957, and trucks took over LCL and package freight delivery in 1952.

The map below shows the PE rail passenger routes still offering regular service as of 1949.

Rail Passenger Lines of Pacific Electric Railway in Los Angeles County

LineWeekday
Rides
Year Rail Service Ended% Operating
Expense Paid by Fares 1948
LA to Long Beach16,000 fare rides 1947Converted to bus 1961. 97
LA to San Pedro15,000 fare rides 1947Converted to bus 1958. 86
Long Beach to San Pedro3,700 fare & transfer rides 1938
5,000 fare rides 1947
Converted to bus 1949.--
LA to Watts Local20,000 fare rides 1947Converted to bus 1959.95.5
LA to Santa Ana1,100 fare & transfer rides 1938
5,000 fare rides 1947
Cut back to Bellflower 1950
with no direct bus replacement.
Remainder converted to bus 1958.
58.8
LA to Newport Beach700 fare & transfer rides 1938Replaced by bus 1940.
A few trains revived during World War II.
--
LA to Pasadena via Oak Knoll5,500 fare & transfer rides 1938
7,500 fare rides 1947
Replaced by bus 1950--
LA to Pasadena via Fairoaks Ave4,800 fare & transfer rides 1938
7,500 fare rides 1947
Replaced by bus 195181
LA to Santa Monica
via Beverly Hills
(plus Brentwood)
7,600 fare & transfer rides 1938Converted to bus 1940.--
LA-Gardena-Torrance-San Pedro400 fare & transfer ridesEliminated 1940.
Replaced by Torrance and Gardena
city bus systems.
--
LA-Gardena-Redondo1,100 fare & transfer rides 1938 Eliminated 1940.
Replaced by Gardena city bus system.
LA to Sierra Madre1,000 fare & transfer rides 1938
2,000 fare rides 1947
Replaced by bus 1950.--
LA-Monrovia-Glendora2,900 fare & transfer rides 1938
5,000 fare rides 1947
(Plus 8,000 Santa Anita rides during race season.)
Replaced by bus 1951.73.7
LA-Pomona-San Bernardino-Riverside3,500 fare & transfer rides 1938
5,000 fare rides 1947
Replaced by bus east of
Baldwin Park 1941.
Remainder converted to bus 1950.
52.5
LA-Alhambra-Temple City3,600 fare & transfer rides 1938 Replaced by bus 1941.--
LA-Glendale-Burbank25,000 fare rides 1947Replaced by bus 1955.99
Hollywood Blvd-Echo Park Ave-Venice Blvd Local69,000 fare rides 1947Echo Park Ave-Hill St-
Venice Blvd replaced by bus 1950.
Hollywood via Subway
replaced by bus 1954.
90
LA to Santa Monica via Venice Blvd15,000 fare rides 1947Replaced by bus 1950.85
Santa Monica Blvd-Van Nuys-West Hollywood37,000 fare rides 1947Western-Franklin branch
converted to bus 1940.
Van Nuys converted to bus 1952.
West Hollywood
converted to bus 1953.
85
LA to Sierra Vista
(El Sereno local service)
12,000 fare rides 1947Converted to bus 1951.95.5
LA to Redondo
via Culver City
2,000 fare & transfer rides 1938Converted to bus 1940.--
LA to Whittier
via Huntington Park
(Randolph St)
--Cut back to Walker Ave in
Maywood 1935.
Remainder eliminated
without bus replacement 1938.
--
LA to South Pasadena
via Highland Park
--Cut back to General Hospital 1935.
South Pasadena-Highland Park replaced by
Monterey Rd shuttle bus.
Hospital shuttle eliminated 1942.
--