Metropolitan Coach Lines.

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Biography / Administrative History

Metropolitan Coach Lines Company (MCL) was born out of the socio-economic changes that transformed many large American cities in the years following World War II. Postwar prosperity allowed Americans to indulge in the luxury of the automobile and freeways expanded to accommodate the new auto culture. Work and home were no longer necessarily coterminous and American city-life began to decentralize. This was particularly true in Los Angeles where, a 1955 report to the LAMTA noted, "the ratio of automobile ownership to population... is the highest of any comparable urban area in the world and in no other such area is so great dependence placed on the private automobile as the principle means of passenger transportation (Cloverdale and Colpitts, 1955: p.3)".

This change in American social geography had profound effects on Los Angeles' best-known transit operator, Pacific Electric Railway Company (PE). Faced with increased operating costs, decreased revenues, and falling passenger volume, PE moved to divest itself of its passenger services. Between March and October of 1953, Pacific Electric worked out a sales agreement with Jesse Haugh, who organized the Metropolitan Coach Lines bus company (see Series #3, Sale of Pacific Electric Records ). PE sold its real properties, motor coaches, fare boxes, furniture, office and shop equipment, operating rights, and rail passenger facilities to Haugh and his holding company, Western Transit Systems, for $7,206,634 on March 10, 1953. Because PE agreed to provide MCL with free use of its remaining passenger rail facilities (cars, tracks, overhead, and stations) for two years, part of the agreement stated that "Buyer [Haugh] and Railway [PE] will prosecute diligently and vigorously all such applications so as to replace rail passenger service with motor coach service in the shortest practicable time after closing date (Agreement March 10, 1953, Metropolitan Coach Lines Records, 01-DPGTL, Dorothy Payton Grey Transportation Library)".

- Orders were placed for 100 (it would eventually operate a total of 268) TDH-4801 model buses from GM and Haugh quickly established a corporate identity for MCL, replacing PE red with MCL green. - Publicity campaigns were launched with Disney, The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, and the Miracle Mile merchants, amongst others (See Series #6, Photos). - Motor coach lines were introduced on the old Glendale-Burbank and Hollywood rail lines (see Series #2,Maps and Flyers). - One of the most important changes made by Haugh and MCL was the re-organization of the system into divisions spread out across the city and county, as opposed to the centralized operations of PE. For this purpose, new bus facilities were constructed in El Monte, Van Nuys, and West Hollywood (see Series #6,Photos). - On August 3, 1954, MCL acquired its largest competitor, Asbury Rapid Transit.

In 1957, recognizing the need for the coherent development of a mass transit system for the Los Angeles area, the California State Legislature authorized the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (LAMTA) to acquire and operate all mass transit lines of Los Angeles County. Thus, in 1958 LAMTA bought MCL and its subsidiary, Asbury Rapid Transit, for $33 million dollars. With this sale came the end of MCL and of private ownership and operation of transportation in Los Angeles.

List of Abbreviations BRC - Brotherhood of Railway Clerks BRT - Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen LACMTA - Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority LAMTA - Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority MCL - Metropolitan Coach Lines PE - Pacific Electric Railway Company PUC - Public Utilities Commission

List of Sources

- Bail, Eli, From Railway to Freeway, Pacific Electric and the Motor Coach, Glendale, California, Interurban Press, 1984. (MTA Library HE 5633 .C2 B34 1984 c.2). - Coverdale & Colpitts, Report on Estimated Traffic and Revenue of the Backbone Route, New York, Coverdale & Colpitts, 1962. - Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library,Los Angeles Transit History, (April 6,2006). - Dorothy Payton Grey Transportation Library,Metropolitan Coach Lines Records, 01-DPGTL.

From the guide to the Metropolitan Coach Lines records, 1953-1958, (Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library and Archives.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Pacific Electric Railway Company records, 1908 - 1964, 1915 - 1955 Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library and Archives.
creatorOf Metropolitan Coach Lines records, 1953-1958 Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library and Archives.
referencedIn Jenkins, Arthur C. [Arthur C. Jenkins papers, 1940-1976] / Arthur C. Jenkins. Institute of Transportation Studies Library, ITS Library, U.C. Berkeley
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Asbury Rapid Transit corporateBody
associatedWith Brotherhood of Railway Clerks corporateBody
associatedWith Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen corporateBody
associatedWith Haugh, Jesse L. person
associatedWith Jenkins, Arthur C. person
associatedWith Local Transit corporateBody
associatedWith Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority corporateBody
associatedWith Metropolitan Coach Lines Company corporateBody
associatedWith Pacific Electric Railway Company corporateBody
associatedWith Western Transit Systems corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Publicity--California--Los Angeles County--Photographs
Public Relations--California--Los Angeles County--Photographs
Labor Unions--California--Los Angeles County--Correspondence
Bus lines--California--Los Angeles County--Photographs
Public Utilities--California--Los Angeles County--Records and Correspondence
Local Transit--California--Los Angeles County--Maps
Transportation--California--Los Angeles County
Advertising--California--Los Angeles County--Photographs
Street-railroads--California--Los Angeles County--Photographs
Contracts--California--Los Angeles County

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