FLASHBACK – LA Doesn’t Need Rapid Transit, So Says Paul Lynde

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Los Angeles has had a tempestuous history with public transportation. This 1968 educational film starring actor/center square Paul Lynde and iconic Los Angeles newscaster Ralph Story was produced and distributed to libraries, schools and community groups by the Southern California Rapid Transit District in advance of a failed 1968 ballot initiative proposing a ½-cent sales tax that would go towards funding an 89-mile, five-corridor rail system (costing $2.5 billion). The bill was rejected by voters fifty-five percent to forty-five percent.

“Blame for the defeat was placed, officially on the public’s dislike of higher taxes, not hostility to rapid transit itself. Blame was probably shared by an antipathy to more taxation, and a general feeling, still prevalent, that Los Angeles was an autopian, decentralized garden city with no place for rail transit.”


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16 Responses to “FLASHBACK – LA Doesn’t Need Rapid Transit, So Says Paul Lynde”

  1. John Laue says:

    How tragically sad that it didn’t pass…jpl

  2. Craig A. Hoffmann says:

    The old rail system of the 1930′s was doing well and suited our needs. The tire companies and others didn’t like this so they made the system vanish in favor of a car-centric society. So here we are.

    • David says:

      Have a look at the current Metro bus system. We don’t have a car and use it all the time. LA has a wonderful public transit system again.

  3. Hannah says:

    Can we sue the car companies for taking away our public transportation?

  4. Alex Liberman says:

    The need is there but the expensive solutions are the wrong ones. We should add more buses, Taxi cabs, programs like Access Transit for the elderly, etc. I don’t think Angelinos will ever take public transportation as long as their cars are available. I have tried it on several occasions and at best, it has taken me double the time to get to my destination compared to driving there.
    I think that what we need is a door to door subsidy. An experiment that should be conducted would be to have the Taxi cabs charge 40% of what they are currently charging for a month and see what happens.

  5. Mike says:

    Minimal public transportation is necessary for those that don’t have the means of getting to places and also serves other minor needs. However, public transportation ultimately stifles our mobility which is a requisite of freedom. The force of more rapid public transit only serves to decrease mobility even further(rapid transit is almost always local) and thus serves as a tool to restrict freedom by means of limiting overall mobility. I do ride public transportation here and there but for specific local use, i.e. taking the red line in to Hollywood as to avoid drinking and driving. The opportunity cost in lost time is another direct shot to our ability to be mobile by limiting the amount of time we have to accomplish things in a given day and acting as a time constraint. Government can’t do anything right and unfortunately private companies are reluctant to enter the market due to lack of demand and resulting losses. I do not favor banning transit. It needs to remain minimal and as efficient as possible under bureaucratic control as to cater to those that require its use but not to an extent that it burdens the taxpayer and society as a whole.

    • Johnny Socko says:

      Spoken like a true rich white dude — from 30 years ago. Seriously, the transit theories you espoused are so archaic, they come across as punch lines.

      Unless you were being ironic, in which case…good job?

    • J says:

      Tell that to New York or Paris or Tokyo or Montreal or Washington D.C. . . .

      Thankfully the public transit system in LA is improving quickly. Cars will not vanish, not to worry; they co-exist in many other cities all over the country and the world.

    • Jeremy says:

      I view being a slave to a car as a hinderance to freedom. Public tranist allows you to be free to do other things while you are being mobile. You can’t read a book, write a story, or sleep while driving but you can do all of these things while riding a bus/subway. Which is more free? Cars are expensive, think of how much the average person in LA pays per month for a car payment. Public transportation is cheap which makes you more economically free. Why be a slave to auto companies when you can ride the bus for $1 and take a plane or rent a car for longer trips. I would not agree that public transportation minimizes your freedom, it seems more like you would be more free to use your time and your money as you see fit.

  6. David G. says:

    Paul Lynde was brilliant in everything he did… D.

  7. David Wicall says:

    Public Transportation is on the rise FINALLY! New light rail and subway projects are already in use and more are in the works. That coupled with the comming of a high speed rail system in California. I see a bright future!

  8. William Mathews says:

    Paul Lynde sounds like Jack Nicholson in that first video

  9. Mick says:

    In addition to the tax issue I think there was another factor at work – oldtime Californians often defined the state’s identity by an antipathy to the Northeast. That’s why not only this and similar measures were defeated in L.A. but the number of BART stops in San Francisco itself was considerably reduced – many people thought that having a Metro/subway was too much like New York (or Boston, or Philly). And this DESPITE a large amount of the L.A. population (more than the Bay Area population at that time) being quite familiar with the public transport systems of the East Coast cities and a sizeable amount being familiar with the London Tube as well…

  10. Brian says:

    I’m having to take public transportation right now, and I’m happy to do so. However, I wish we had a system in LA that didn’t take 1 hour 45 minutes (or more) to go from North Hills in the Valley to Santa Monica. There’s just something not right about being able to drive to LAS VEGAS in just over double that time.

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