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Rail Service to LAX?

Now available —– railroading in 2011 as seen through the lens of Steve Barry. Hardcover 240 pages, full color. bookstore

WHEN THE GREEN LINE light rail ser- vice began in Los Angeles about 20 years ago, extending it into LAX (Los Angeles In- ternational Airport) was considered. Accord- ing to some newspaper reports, the idea was squelched by the airport commission, which feared losing parking revenue. Another wor- ry was the fanciful idea that an electric line would interfere with the safe landing and takeoff of airplanes. Finally, in 2011 serious consideration is

                   

            

       

          

             

being given to extending the Green Line into LAX, and the new light rail line that will roughly parallel Crenshaw Boulevard might reach LAX from the north. Making travel easier appears to be a new and original no- tion. Direct access to LAX by rail might make local cab companies unhappy, but it appears to be a good option for travelers. Thanks to John Alan Lee for the information.

Atlanta Streetcar Funding Atlanta has had a rapid transit system for years, but getting accustomed to the idea of a streetcar took a while. The proposed At- lanta Streetcar project received $47.6 mil- lion from the Federal Transit Administra- tion. Now seen as a major amenity for downtown, the proposed 2.6-mile line will operate through Atlanta’s business, hotel, and convention districts, as well as tourist attractions. It will serve Peachtree Center and help unite the east and west sides of town which were parted by the construction of an Interstate Highway in the 1950s. Charlie Bogart supplied the news.

Baltimore Cable Cars The Live Wire publication from the Balti- more Streetcar Museum, Inc., reminds us that for a few years before the turn of the 20th century Baltimore enjoyed cable car service. On May 21, 1891, the first cable line operated on Druid Hill Avenue, Paca Street, and Fayette and Lombard streets through the downtown area and then along Pratt Street to Patterson Park. Service ended in 1899. Cable car technology is fascinating, but

the railway structures are expensive to build and maintain. They certainly can conquer hills, as witnessed by the iconic routes in San Francisco. As I recall, Seattle dropped its ca- ble cars shortly before World War II, and San Francisco almost lost its cable railways right after the war. In addition to Tony Bennett, tourists love cable cars and they do bring money with them on their visits to see and ride the fabulous cable cars that go halfway to the stars. Thanks to Henry Goode for sup- plying The Live Wire publication (P.O. Box 4881, Baltimore, MD 21211).

 50 APRIL 2012 • RAILFAN.COM

Chicago: Red Line and Fares The nature of fixed facilities demands that rail transit systems need maintenance and updating. Buses can’t avoid it because the roads they use are fixed facilities. In Chica- go, the Metra commuter rail service and the Chicago Transit Authority’s rapid transit system (the L) are prime examples. Recently Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has

been considering the idea that the Red Line should be regarded as the backbone of the rapid transit system and subject of signifi- cant improvement and updating, including stations. The Red Line is basically a meaningless moniker that disguises the north-south rapid transit line that links Howard Street in the north with 95th and the Dan Ryan Expressway in the south. I am not enthusi- astic about color designations of rail lines because they are so dull. For example, the Brown Line sounds muddy, but Ravenswood sounds as if it came from a Sir Walter Scott romance.

Meanwhile, consideration of the possibili-

ty of a fare hike remains covered in mystery. Politicians and transit managers never like to talk about fare increases, but they are necessary to cover costs. The public can probably expect higher fares not only in Chicago but just about everywhere as tax collections are down nationwide. All across the nation public transportation needs a sustainable source of funds, and bringing up facilities to a reasonable standard of quality and service will demand billions of dollars. The nasty political wrangling heard in the summer of 2011 is not going to solve much of anything. Thanks to Steve Scalzo for the in- formation.

Cincinnati Streetcar? Some enthusiasm has drained from the prospect of a new Cincinnati streetcar line that would operate from the downtown area, cross Over-the-Rhine, and terminate just north of Findley Market. Its original scope has been pared down and is being disrupted by pressure from those favoring using mon- ey for expressways. Some aspects of the proposed streetcar

project included the possible use of battery- powered streetcars to avoid putting up wire. For some reason, a great flap seems to have developed here and there about overhead wire for a streetcar or light rapid transit op- eration. Considering the visual desecration that already exists in so many American cities, who would even notice it? Charlie Bogart, a newly elected member of the board of directors of the Hoosier Traction Meet, provided the news.

New Jersey Billed by Feds Many readers know that New Jersey Gover- nor Chris Christie stopped construction of a new railroad tunnel between New Jersey

PLEASE SEND light rail, tran- sit and commuter rail news items and correspondence di- rectly to Prof. George M. Smerk, Emeritus Suite, Kelley School of Business, 1309 East Tenth Street, Bloomington, IN 47405-1701.

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