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What Los Angeles Mayor Rode the Red Cars to Work?

Lorraine Bradley, retired educator and older of former Mayor Tom Bradley’s two daughters, recalls how the rail cars of Los Angeles played a vital role in her family’s daily life and explains why she eagerly awaits the project’s completion so she can indulge one of her passions.

Lorraine Bradley Bradley, a native Angeleno and 40-year Leimert Park resident, still remembers her first subway trip as a teenager in Paris. Her fondest memories of urban rail, however, recall the sunlight twinkling off the windows of the bright and shiny Pacific Electric red rail cars. She cherishes the quality family time she enjoyed with her family, as they rode together, after their many Downtown Los Angeles shopping trips via those Red Cars.

Indeed, the at-grade rail cars of yesteryear Los Angeles were vital to her and her neighbors’ transportation needs for work, school, and play.

“We all used to catch the J Line to go Downtown,” Bradley said. “Mom would drive the family car to the Jefferson Yard, park and we’d hop on the train.” She recalls that “All of the local wives caught the train to go Downtown for their shopping needs.”

“We lived and coexisted with the train just fine when we were in high school, I don’t recall any accidents at all,” said the Susan Dorsey High School graduate.

Bradley fondly remembers that her father’s morning routine included rail.

“Daddy would leave the house, on 57th and Central Av, to catch the rail cars to work.” Then a Los Angeles Police Department Officer, Tom Bradley rode the Red Cars for years, according to his daughter. Mayor Bradley’s secretary took the train as well.

The former Los Angeles Commissioner remembers how strongly her father advocated the advancement of public transportation in Los Angeles. She considers that the Metro transit projects under construction are a crystallization of his dream for Los Angeles.

“Daddy was a forward thinker; he knew that as Los Angeles grew, we needed more than buses. He felt that we needed to compete with the other big cities and that trains could get people out of cars and bring them together.”

In fact, it was the time she spent together with her family, especially her older cousin, which led to Bradley’s lifelong career in education.

“I always wanted to help people; my cousin was a teacher and I thought it was a great profession,” said the former physical education teacher. “I was tough and hard on the students, but that’s because I knew what the real word would offer them.”

As the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project enters its construction phase this year, with an expected completion year of 2019, Ms. Bradley looks forward to the light-rail train for many reasons. “It must have been over 40 years since we’ve had a train in this area. It’s always fun when you don’t have to drive, just to sit and go with ease,” said Bradley. “I have so many friends that catch the Expo Line to Downtown now to explore Los Angeles,” Bradley added.

Ms. Bradley feels the opportunity to enjoy the company around you and the ability to see the City of Los Angeles from a different angle are a few reasons she finds the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project so thrilling.

“The community needs increased public transportation options since the buses can get full,” Bradley said.  “I can remember catching the Red Line to Downtown Los Angeles and I had a great time.” Trains expose you to the things you normally do not see, it expands your world; it’s an adventure catching the train.”

What will she do once the project opens? “Well, once it’s up I can go places to eat!” she said, touching on her passion for dining.

With restaurants such as Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen, Mr. Fish Taco, Margaritas, Veg-It-Up, Front Page Jamaican Grille, Bilal Indian Cuisine and a host of other fine places, grabbing a bite along the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project route shouldn’t be a problem at all.