The Greater Los Angeles region was home to one of the world’s greatest and most extensive urban rail systems, the 1,200 mile operations of Pacific Electric and the Los Angeles Railway, both totally abandoned by 1963. But this urban rail tragedy has a happy ending. Since 1990, this region has seen the most dramatic resurgence of urban rail service anywhere in North America. The Los Angeles region has seen the opening of 73 miles of new, electrified heavy and light rail service on five lines and over 500 miles of diesel commuter rail service from scratch on seven lines. Join us in “LA” to experience all this plus the light rail operations of San Diego and Oceanside!
The Wilshire Grand Los Angeles, at 930 Wilshire Boulevard, will be our convention headquarters. This luxury hotel is across the street from the 7th St./Metro Center station, the main station of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (a.k.a. “Metro”) rail lines. This full-service hotel offers such amenities as a health and fitness center, spa, outdoor swimming pool and four first-rate restaurants featuring American, Italian, Japanese and Korean cuisines, from light to full meals.
The Wilshire Grand Hotel is centrally located in Downtown Los Angeles. Both the Original Pantry Cafe, LA’s iconic 24-hour diner, open since 1924 and famous for generous and moderately priced food, and LA’s main downtown shopping district, are located within two to three blocks of the hotel. Adjacent to Union Passenger Terminal, just three stops on the Red/Purple line, are El Pueblo de Los Angeles (the Mexican restaurant and shopping district), Chinatown, and Philippe’s famous roast beef restaurant. Other popular tourist venues in Pasadena, Hollywood, Universal City, Long Beach, Westwood and Santa Monica are easily reached within 60 minutes travel time on public transportation from your front door.
Single, double and twin accommodations are priced at $119 plus tax (14.065%) per night. Breakfast is on your own. Our annual banquet will be held at the Wilshire Grand Hotel. To avoid missing any events, plan to arrive in Los Angeles no later than Thursday afternoon or evening, September 3rd.
Our chartered coaches will leave the Wilshire Grand Hotel at 9:00 AM and travel to visit the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, Calif. We will visit the recently restored and re-opened 1888 Sante Fe Depot. From there, we will be met by Orange Empire trolleys. The Orange Empire Railway Museum features one of the continent’s largest, most varied and well maintained collections of electric traction and railroad equipment, with special emphasis on equipment from Southern California. We will be able to view and ride the museum’s historic collection, including such famous equipment as the Pacific Electric “Blimp” or “Hollywood” cars.
Following our museum visit in Perris, members will return to Downtown Los Angeles either on our chartered coaches or be dropped off at San Bernardino and return to LA on the Metrolink San Bernardino commuter rail line. Both the train and the chartered coaches will stop at Los Angeles’ immaculately restored 1939 Mission/Art Deco Union Passenger Terminal (or Los Angeles Union Station, as it is officially now known). Return time should be approximately 6:30 PM.
Union Passenger Terminal is not only an idiosyncratic jewel among North America’s classic railway stations, but also the region’s transportation hub, serving as focal point for transfers among Amtrak, Metrolink commuter trains, Metro’s Red, Purple and Gold Lines, and many Metro bus lines at adjacent Patsaouras Plaza. Near Union Station, members can enjoy dinner on their own, at any of the moderately priced restaurants in the adjacent El Pueblo de Los Angeles district on Olvera Street (Mexican), Chinatown (a short walk), or board the scenic Gold Line for dinner in Old Pasadena, about 25 minutes north from Union Station. After dinner, Union Station is but a short three Metrorail station ride from our hotel on either the Red or Purple Lines.
We will leave the hotel at 8 AM by chartered coach to see many of the traction-related sites within the City of Los Angeles. Our first stop will be the Metro Gold Line Shops, Division 21, next to Elysian Park and the Los Angeles River. These shops are home to the Duewag P2000 cars that first ran on the Metro Green Line and opened service on the Metro Gold Line in 2004, as well as the new P2550 Breda cars now going into service that will open the Gold Line extension to East Los Angeles (planned for June 2009). Our next stop will be the heavy rail shops at Santa Fe Division 20, home to the subway cars used on the Metro Red and Purple Lines.
Our lunch stop will be at the historic Farmers Market and nearby shopping center, The Grove. The Farmers Market has been an LA landmark since the 1930s. Over 100 restaurants and souvenir shops line its narrow aisles where culinary delights from all over the U.S. and around the world await. You can board a free double-decker electric streetcar and ride over to view (or dine at) one of the restaurants in the five-year old Grove, an open-air shopping center that evokes memories of elegant downtown shopping of the past rather than a mall. Major national retailers can be found here.
Following lunch, we will continue our tour by traveling to San Pedro, Los Angeles’ port district, and visit The Port of Los Angeles Waterfront Red Car Line. Enroute we will view the status of ongoing construction of LA’s next light rail line, the Exposition Line, connecting Downtown LA west to Santa Monica. The San Pedro operation will have trolleys to photograph and ride, including Pacific Electric interurban 1058. We will leave San Pedro around 4:30 PM to return to the Wilshire Grand in time for the Banquet.
ERA’s Annual Banquet will be held in the evening in a private room at the Wilshire Grand Hotel. An hour-long informal reception and cash bar will begin at 7:00 PM, and dinner will follow promptly at 8:00 PM. Our guest speaker will be Michael Cannell, Deputy Executive Director of Metro’s Rail Operations. His presentation will be on the resurgence of urban rail transportation in the Greater Los Angeles region, including the region’s rail transit accomplishments in the last 30 years and current and future plans for further expansion.
Sunday will be a very busy day with visits to Oceanside-Escondido and San Diego. We will leave the hotel at 7:00 AM and travel by chartered coach to Escondido. We will ride the recently opened Sprinter diesel MU light rail commuter line, operated by the North County Transit District (San Diego area) from Oceanside to Escondido, with a brief photo stop at their shops.
From Escondido, we will continue by chartered coach to San Diego and visit the lines of the San Diego Trolley, the backbone of San Diego’s MTS, or Metropolitan Transit System. We will begin our visit in Downtown San Diego with a lunch stop at the third floor food court at Westfield Horton Plaza, a 130+ store, multi-level, European-villa style open-air mall. At 1:00 PM, we will leave Horton Plaza and travel to the MTS Rail Operations Facility for a tour at 1:15 PM. We will view the ongoing PCC car restoration for future heritage trolley service. At around 2 PM we will board a chartered two-car light rail train for an escorted tour of the San Diego Trolley’s Orange and Green lines, with photo stops including Qualcomm Stadium and San Diego State’s underground station. We will return to the San Diego Trolley shops at 5 PM and be driven to the cultural and historic heart of San Diego, the restored Gaslamp District, and an area that harkens back to San Diego’s Wild West heritage. At about 5:15 PM, you can either dine in the Gaslamp District’s many fine cafés or open-air restaurants or ride San Diego Trolley’s original Blue Line from Downtown to San Ysidro and back. We will depart by 8:00 PM for our return to Downtown Los Angeles by 11:00 PM.
We will leave our hotel at 8:00 AM and enjoy An Escorted Tour of the Entire Metro Rail Light Rail System. ERA will supply the day pass for those who elect to take this trip. The group will ride regular service on this holiday. We will be accompanied by a Metro representative who will discuss features of the line(s) we will be riding. Various photo stops will be planned along the way.
We will start with the scenic Metro Gold Line to Pasadena and back through the new East Los Angeles extension, planned for opening in June 2009. We will return to Union Station and travel by the Metro Red Line to board the Metro Blue Line and travel to Long Beach. A lunch stop is planned in Downtown Long Beach. We will return via the Metro Blue Line to the transfer point to the Metro Green Line. Those members wishing to catch flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) may wish to leave the tour when the Green Line train is at the Airport station. We estimate arrival at the Airport station at approximately 4 PM Once the tour is complete, we will return to 7th/Metro Center. This will end the convention. Your pass is good for the rest of today for travel on your own.
Metro offers a daily unlimited ride pass, good for unlimited rides on local Metro Local, Limited and Rapid buses and Metro Rail trains for $5.00 per day with senior citizens able to obtain the same privileges for $1.80. Medicare cards must be presented to operators and conductors as proof of senior citizen status.
Timetables mentioned herein are subject to change, but announcements will be made to update necessary information during ERA events. While every effort will be made to adhere to the times above, changes may be made when necessary. ERA is not responsible for any late arrivals, and in particular, is not responsible for guaranteeing Green Line connections for those wishing to travel with the Green Line tour to LAX on September 7. If it appears that the tour is running late and this affects your ability to make your flight, plan to leave the tour as appropriate and travel to LAX on your own. Timetables for Metro, North County Transit District and San Diego Metropolitan Transit System services are available on the respective organizations’ internet sites.