Demise of Public Transit in California

Demise of Public Transit in California

“Not too many years ago, Southern California could boast of the ‘World’s Largest Interurban Electric Railroad System’: The Pacific Electric and its Big Red Cars.”- Raphael Long

Beginning in 1900, California shifted away from a rail-based transportation system to one based on automobiles and busses because of their flexibility, lower costs and their capability of supporting far-flung, decentralized cities.

Los Angeles’ Pacific Electric Railway stood out as the exception. Its extensive system carried over 100 million passengers by 1945. But by the 1950s, it too fell victim to disuse and to buyouts by oil, bus and auto companies.

Over time, however, the dismantling of these inter-urban rail systems throughout much of California placed an even greater burden on the state’s growing network of roads.

California State Capitol Museum – The Road Ahead Exhibit

This is a website specifically for the “The Road Ahead: The Automobile’s Impact on California” Exhibit. Dates: May 23, 2018 – April 29, 2019 at the California State Capitol Museum.

For Museum-related information such as contacts, hours and location: Visit