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Venice Short Line


ROUTE: From Hill Street Station via Hill Street, 16th Street(Venice Boulevard.) and private way to Vineyard(5.48 Miles); thence on private way to Culver Junction.(9.19 miles), Palms(9.99 miles), Venice City Hall(13.76), Windward Avenue(Venice) (14.75 miles), Pier Avenue Ocean Park(15.60miles), to Santa Monica Boulevard. & Broadway, Santa Monica(16.96 miles). From Vineyard to Santa Monica the only stretches of street running were on Pacific Avenue, Venice, from Venice Boulevard. to Windward Avenue, and on Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, from Pico Boulevard. to the terminus at Broadway. The VSL was double tracked throughout, plus two very short passing sidings in Los Angeles on Venice Boulevard. at Berendo Street and at Second Avenue

HISTORY: That portion of this line from Hill & 4th Street to Vineyard was constructed in 1897 by Pasadena & Pacific Railway Company, a predecessor of Los Angeles Pacific. It was then known as the W. 16th Street Division and extended through from Vineyard to Beverly Hills. In 1902 LAP built the Palms Division from Vineyard to Ocean Park; this line was practically level, had few curves and traversed a much more direct route to the west beaches than did the line through Beverly Hills. In 1903, a connection was built between Venice City Hall and the Lagoon Line and the development of Venice a year later found LAP ready with fast, direct car service to the new resort. In 1908, this line was standard gauged and LAP's biggest interurban cars commenced operating over it in trains which sometimes reached five cars in length. This line immediately became the heaviest travelled beach line out of Los Angeles and retained that distinction for many years. In 1911, PE took over this line.

Under the Pacific Electric flag, the Venice Short Line continued to be a spectacular performer in hauling crowds to the shore. However, dense traffic encountered in Los Angeles and the rise of competing bus lines gradually caused patronage to drop. The oft proposed Vineyard Subway would probably save this line; without it, the eventual conversion to busses was inevitable. The VSL was the "big" line of the Western District. It was the shortest, most direct rail route to the western beaches and traffic hauled on good beach days reached the highest points recorded on the entire PE system. Had the Vineyard Subway been built, and had this line been four-tracked (as was intended), the Venice Short Line undoubtedly would have become the trunk line of a comprehensive rapid transit system for western Los Angeles. Final abandonment of rail service occurred on September 1, 1950 when busses were substituted; rails were removed with the exception of a short piece of the inbound main adjacent to the Culver City Station.

OPERATION: As of July, 1911, it took 50 minutes westbound and 52 minutes in the opposite direction with trains running on 20 minute headway in base periods, 15 minute headway in the evening rush hours. and 30 minute frequency at night. In early 1913, "Flyers" made it in 45 minutes, locals in 50 minutes. All VSL trains ran limited east of Vineyard, local service there being provided by the W. 16th Street Line. On August 10, 1916, VSL trains looped in Santa Monica via Santa Monica Boulevard., 3rd Street, Broadway to Ocean. On December 1, 1926 , this loop was discontinued, and trains were through-routed with those of the Santa Monica via Beverly Hills Line; about two months later this through-routing was terminated, with VSL trains again terminating at Ocean & Broadway. As of January 30, 1939, VSL trains required 59 minutes for the outbound trip, 60 minutes inbound.

On February 9, 1941, the VSL was through-routed with the Hollywood Boulevard. Line except for rush hour, night and Sunday service; 20 brand new PCC cars were assigned to the line and running time was lengthened to 62 minutes outbound, 67 inbound. All midday cars did the local work east of Vineyard. On April 18, 1943, the VSL-Hollywood Boulevard. through-routed ended; headway became 20 minutes during base, night and Sunday periods, plus a 75 minute service all night long. Running time became 64 minutes out, 65 in.

Postwar dropping off of passengers was reflected in service cuts. On March 21, 1947, weekday evening service after 10:00 PM was put on a thirty minute headway. Owl service was discontinued on March 12, 1948, and on the same date Sunday service also went on a half hour headway after 10:00 PM. Evening rush hour headway was very frequent, down to 7 minutes in some instances. Base service was on a 20 minute headway basis, with the same headway being scheduled for Sunday daylight hours.

Downtown traffic(between Hill Street Station and Vineyard) was a severe headache; this segment of the line represented but 4% of the route mileage, yet as of 1939, it took 24% of the average running time; in later years this became even greater.

The VSL as of 1939, required 23 cars of the 950 and 800 Classes. A maximum of 23 cars were required and a minimum of seven. These cars seated 56 and were not fast; the 800s could get up to about 48 mph, the 950s but 41.

The VSL was protected from Vineyard to Venice by automatic block signals, installed as a result of the disastrous Vineyard wreck of 1913.

VSL and other interurban trains using W. 16th Street were given some relief from interference by local cars through two sidings; outbound, a siding was located at Berendo Street, inbound one was at Third Avenue Local cars were required to enter sidings when interurban trains were observed overtaking.

Two railroad crossings were encountered; at Culver Junction.(Santa Monica Air Line); and at Washington Boulevard. (Inglewood Line); both were protected by automatic block signals.

There were six junction switches: at Hill Street Station, at Sixth Street, at Vineyard, at Culver Junction., at Culver City Station, and at Venice City Hall.

EQUIPMENT: From 1911 to 1924, this line was served by 800 and 550 Class equipment. In 1924 the 950s returned, taking over most assignments with 800s on the remainder. In 1941, PCC (5000 Class) cars were introduced, aided by modernized 600 Class cars with some 950 Class cars still needed. The PCCs left the VSL in a short time, being unable to cope with the line's rough track; the 950s returned in force, aided by 600s. In 1946, six 1000 Class cars were added; the total at that time was 20 cars of the 950 class, 9 of the 600 type and six of the 1000s.

TRACK: From Vineyard east, see Hill & West 16th Street Line. From Vineyard to the Venice City Hall, 70-lb. T-rail on redwood ties and rock ballast; from Venice City Hall to the Trolleyway(Pacific Avenue), 60-lb. T-rail on redwood ties and rock ballast; from Venice Boulevard. to Windward Avenue, 128-lb. girder rail on treated ties and rock ballast, with asphalt pavement; from Windward to Pico Boulevard.(private way) 75-lb. T-rail, redwood ties, rock ballast; from Pico Boulevard. to Broadway Station, 128-lb. girder rail on treated ties, with rock ballast and asphalt pavement.

ELECTRICAL FACILITIES: The VSL received its power from these substations: Burlington(No. 36), Vineyard(No. 37), Culver City(39), and Ocean Park(40).

CAR STORAGE: VSL cars were stored overnight at Hill Street Station(17 cars), Vineyard(34 cars), and Ocean Park (65). All these facilities were used jointly with certain other lines.

FREIGHT: The VSL hauled a negligible amount of freight. In 1935-36-37 the average freight revenue per mile of line was but three dollars between Culver City and Venice, but between Culver and Vineyard it rose to $1,817. A plant at Hauser Boulevard. accounted for 36 car loads per year, and diesel fuel to the Los Angeles Motor Coach(became LATL) Vineyard Division and lumber to yards at Vineyard made up a total of 208 cars annually. Freight reached VSL points via the Santa Monica Air Line through Culver Junction.

Box motor and Railway Post Office service operated daily except Sunday.

PASSENGERS(Fare & Transfer)

THE SPECTACULAR V.S.L.: Carrying people to the seashore wa the VSL's most spectacular function. Here, from a notebook kept and leaned by Mr. Harry O. Marler, former Passenger Traffic Manager of PE, are some impressive figures.

Sunday Travel: Sundays were usually good days for the VSL; only an "unusual" day prevented large crowds from going to the beach. Here are the best Sundays down the years:
1914:June 28:15,172 Passengers
1915:July 4:16,450 Passengers
1916:May 7:14,089 Passengers
1917:June 17:18,351 Passengers
1918:June 9:15,632 Passengers
1919:April 20:14,919 Passengers
1920:July 4:20,504 Passengers
1921:August: 21:16,274 Passengers

July 4th Travel: Invariably the biggest day of the year was July 4th; here are some startling totals:

These figures mean, of course, that the VSL's regularly assigned cars had to be augmented; the additional cars came form the Northern District. Usually a dozen or so three-car trains were sent over from the North with North crews, reversing the well known New Year's Day migration of West cars and crews to the Northern District. One of the North's veterans told your editor an interesting story regarding this July 4th influx of Northern District men to the VSL:

"We had a three-car train of 950's as I recall it; anyway, we got to Broadway Station in Santa Monica OK and then started to go around the loop for the return trip. We had always turned our train this way in former years so thought it would be alright to do so now. However, when we got around the corner onto Third Street, there was a Birney sitting there with no operator anywhere in sight. We ran bells and whistled and soon we saw the operator run out of a cafe. He was amazed to see our big train, and told us in no uncertain terms that we were crazy to be there---that the loop no longer was used by interurban trains and he wasn't going to get out of our way at all! Reason got the better of valor finally, for we told him that if he ever came over to our District on New Year's Day and got into a pickle, we'd do everything possible to put him right. Pretty soon he thawed out, got into his car and pulled out of our way. It was the last time we went around that loop!"

Special Events: Other crowd-getters on VSL were the Santa Monica auto races, bathing beauty parades, New Year's Eve, Halloween, and excursion days.

Auto races in Santa Monica were very big in the Teens; such famous racers as Barney Oldfield and Teddy Telzlaff tooled their big racers through Santa Monica streets to the accompaniment of rabid cheers from the thongs, lining the curbs. On August 9, 1913, the VSL and Sawtelle Lines hauled a total of 11,358 people to view the races. On February 26, 1914, the same two lines took 11,609 fares and two days later got 10,915 more. On March 15, 1919, the total rose to 12,891.

The bathing beauties were no slouches in getting the city slickers down to the shore. Witness these figures for Venice's annual Bathing Suit Parade:
May 7, 1916:14,089
June 10, 1917:14,282
June 9, 1918:15,652
May 18, 1919:11,594
May 6, 1920:20,587
August 22, 1921:16,274

New Year's Eve was a wild night at Venice, of course. Between 6:05 PM and 11:30 PM passengers from Los Angeles totalled:

Halloween, also 6:05 PM to 11:30 PM from Los Angeles:

Wednesdays were Excursion Days for years, with a 25 cent round trip fare attracting heavy patronage. These figures show 25 cent Day travel up to and including the 5:00 PM train.
June 4, 1914:3,287
July 23, 1914:9,560
September 17, 1914:4,472
June 10, 1915:3,365
August 19, 1915:12,387
September 16, 19154,986
June 22, 1916:6,864
August 3, 1916:11,214
September 31, 1916:10,899
June 28, 1917:6,938
July 19, 1917:11,876
September 13, 1917:4,068

The above figures give first and last days of the excursion season plus the heaviest travelled day. These 25 cent Days were omitted in 1918, a war casualty, but were resumed in 1919 and continued through the Twenties. Excursion tickets were sold at Hill Street Station, 16th & Burlington, 16th & Vermont, 16th & Arlington, and 6th & Main Station.

No other Southland beach rivalled Venice as an attraction, and likewise no other Pacific Electric line carried such heavy crowd loads to the beaches.

ABANDONMENT: By 1948, years of deferred maintenance caught up with the VSL. It was then estimated that in order to continue any type of rail service, an immediate expenditure of $615,960 would be required to put track in acceptable condition. If PCC cars were to be placed in operation on the VSL, a further expenditure over a five year period of $694,110 would be necessary, due to this type of car's being unable to operate to best advantage over any but a rigid, well maintained roadbed. Further, to equip this line with PCC cars, a total of 39 units would have been necessary; at $40,000 per car, the total expenditure for new equipment would have been about $1,560,000. Thus, a total of about $2,870,000 wold have been required plus $10,000 more for crossing signal coordination and an undetermined amount to rehabilitate the well run down Ocean Park Carhouse.

Arrayed against this total was the total expenditure required to convert the VSL to motor coach operation: $325,000 for garage and parking facilities and approximately 50 motor coaches($22,500 each): $1,125,000.

The above figures are from a report submitted to PE President O.A. Smith by consulting Engineer Arthur C. Jenkins, dated November 30, 1948. This report subsequently served as the basis for PE's successful abandonment plea.

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