“The Waterfront Red Car Line serves as a goodwill ambassador for the Port of Los Angeles and the community of San Pedro by providing safe, reliable, enjoyable and environmentally- friendly transportation for the thousands of people who visit the San Pedro harborfront each year. The Red Car Line has a leading role in revitalizing the local business economy by enhancing San Pedro’s image as a tourist destination and improving access to local businesses and attractions.”
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Port of Los Angeles Waterfront Red Car Line?
The historic Red Car Line is a 1.5 mile rail trolley route linking the World Cruise Center with attractions along the San Pedro waterfront. The line uses three authentic replicas of the famous Pacific Electric “Red Cars” (electric trolleys) that served Los Angeles until 1961, running on part of an historic Red Car route. It marks the first time in over forty years that Red Cars have run anywhere in Los Angeles.
Where does the Red Car Line run?
The line runs on a north-south alignment adjacent to Harbor Blvd. from the Cruise Ship Terminal at Swinford St., 1.5 miles south to 22nd and Miner Streets, near the Cabrillo Marina.
How was the existing route chosen?
The line uses an existing rail corridor, much of which is actually a former Pacific Electric right-of-way. The route was chosen because the existing trackage permitted a relatively low-cost but historically accurate way to begin operations. Because the freight traffic on the line is relatively light, sharing the line with the trolley operation is also practical, operating trolleys during the day and freight at night. Historical Note: The PE’s San Pedro depot stood on approximately the site of today’s downtown Red Car station, along Harbor Blvd. between 5th and 6th Streets.
Are there plans to extend the Red Car Line?
Yes, community interest in extending the Red Car Line has been very high and a formal System Expansion study was completed in 2009. Options under study include an extension to Cabrillo Beach, (serving the 22nd St. Landing, Cabrillo Marina, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, the Cabrillo Beach Bathhouse and the fishing pier), a branch serving a new cruise terminal at the Outer Harbor (Berth 46), a branch reaching Warehouse One (south end of Signal St.) a branch serving Downtown San Pedro, and a branch into Wilmington and along Gaffey Street. The study also examined the best location to construct a permanent maintenance building, as well as a Red Car museum.
What are the hours of service?
The Red Cars currently operate on Saturday, Sunday and Monday from Noon until 9 p.m. This three-day schedule is based around the days when the cruise ships call at the Cruise Center. Service can be expanded to other hours or days of the week as demand warrants.
How much is the fare?
The fare is one dollar for everyone, with children 6 and under free. Fares are collected on board the cars, and exact change is required. Your ticket is good all day for unlimited rides on the Red Car.
How many Red Cars operate on the route?
Two cars are in operation over the line at any given time. Normal service uses two newly built ‘replica’ Red Cars, patterned after a 1908 Pacific Electric car. A third car, restored from an actual Pacific Electric car, is available for special operations including charters.
Is the line ADA accessible?
Yes, everyone who wishes to should enjoy the Red Car experience. All stations are equipped with wheelchair ramps and handrails, offering easy access for all passengers. The two newly constructed replica cars each have two wheelchair berths inside.
Who operates the Red Car Line for the Port?
Operation and maintenance of the cars has been contracted out to Herzog Transit Services Inc., a professional operator of railway passenger services. Each car has a two-person crew, a Conductor and Operator. In addition to his/her primary duty to ensure passenger safety, the Conductor also serves as a tour guide and greeter, welcoming riders aboard, describing the story of the Red Cars, then and now, and highlighting attractions in the San Pedro area.
Is parking available for the Red Car Line?
Yes. In addition to spaces available on the street and in lots next to the stations, a dedicated Red Car Line parking lot has been added adjacent to the 22nd St. Station.
Is the Red Car Line accessible from existing public transit?
Yes. there are several options available. Both MTA’s 445 express and 447 routes from Downtown Los Angeles both serve the Harbor/Beacon Park-n-Ride lot, directly across Harbor Blvd. from the World Cruise Center Red Car station. LA DOT Commuter Express bus route 142 (connecting the San Pedro and Long Beach harbor areas) has a stop adjacent to the 6th St. Red Car Station and its terminus is at Ports O’ Call Village, in the parking lot across the street from the the Red Car station. Also, Amtrak Thruway bus service from Los Angeles Union Station is available to and from the World Cruise Center.
What are the ridership numbers for the Red Car line?
The Red Car Line opened on July 19, 2003. That year there were 44,292 passenger boardings over 97 operating days. 2004 saw 85,221 boardings over 232 operating days, 2005 had 94,543 boardings over 239 operating days, and in 2006 there were 102,512 boardings over 240 operating days. 2007 ridership was 92,665 over 225 operating days. 2008 ridership was 132,035 over 239 operating days.
The line demonstrates its passenger carrying potential during special events such as the Port’s annual Lobster Festival, carrying around 11,000 passengers over the three day festival each year since 2004. For the 2005 Tall Ships LA event, the line carried 12,146 passengers over four days.
Who built the Red Car Line and how much did it cost?
The Waterfront Red Car Line was built by the Port of Los Angeles, which also owns the tracks and related facilities. The Port’s own crews built the line’s four stations and performed the majority of work on the line’s three railcars. The total cost of the initial phase of the project, including the three railcars, was $10 million. The funding for the project came from the Harbor Revenue Fund, which is derived solely from the shipping revenues collected by the Port.
Why build a rail-based trolley line in San Pedro?
San Pedro’s waterfront and downtown have a host of wonderful attractions, including shops, restaurants, art galleries, the Warner Grand Theater, the L.A. Maritime Museum, marinas, beaches and excellent views of the Port of Los Angeles, one of the world’s busiest and most accessible port facilities. The Red Car Line not only connects these attractions together, it is an attraction in its own right, tapping into the nostalgia for LA’s famous ‘Red Cars’. The highly visible Red Cars enhance San Pedro’s image while encouraging local tourism and commercial investment…a successful formula in other great cities.
Over 1,100,000 passengers pass through the World Cruise Center annually, with that number expected to rise in the years ahead. The Red Car Line will strive to capture a significant percentage of the cruise ship passengers, as well as tourists from the greater Los Angeles metro area, home to more than 16 million people. Ridership will grow to complement the commercial development and visitor attractions in San Pedro, allowing visitors to enjoy the many charms of this unique waterside community.
Where did the idea for the Red Car Line originate?
In 1995, a blue ribbon task force appointed by the Board of Harbor Commissioners proposed a rail line to link the “string of pearls” attractions along the waterfront. In 1998, the Pacific Corridor Citizens Advisory Committee recommended a passenger rail connection between the Cruise Ship Terminal and 22nd St (anticipating future development at the site) with intermediate stops at 6th Street and Ports O’ Call Village. The Port of Los Angeles then developed the concept as a community improvement and unique economic development engine.
What other cities have this type of Vintage Trolley line?
Vintage Trolley operations have played key roles in the successful transformation of communities around the country. There are currently about 18 such operations in other U.S. cities, including San Francisco; Memphis; Charlotte; San Jose; Portland; Tampa; Dallas; Little Rock and Kenosha, Wisconsin.