After more than 60 years, a rail enthusiast takes the train to Santa Monica once again

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Retired Metro worker and rail enthusiast Alan Weeks waited more than 60 years to ride the train to Santa Monica again. In 1953, he was one of just a few passengers who rode the last Pacific Electric Railway car – also known as the Santa Monica Air Line – to Santa Monica from downtown Los Angeles before it was demolished.

Last Friday, Weeks, who is now 84 years old, was one of hundreds of excited Angelenos who rode the Expo Line out to the beach on opening day.

Alan Weeks on opening day of the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica May 20, 2016
Alan Weeks on opening day of the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica. May 20, 2016. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Before World War II, Los Angeles had an extensive rail line, but as cars and buses took over, those lines were abandoned.

Weeks, who took thousands of photographs of LA’s streetcars in the 1940s, ’50s, and early ’60s before they were all deserted, told Press Play’s Madeleine Brand that he never thought he’d see rail flourish in the city again. “I, in my wildest imagination, couldn’t imagine it coming back,” said Weeks. “But I think it’s a great thing.”

“What I think is so encouraging is young people today are thinking differently from their parents. Young people all the time are willing to explore… public transit gives them that freedom,” said Weeks. “My generation did that [before] the automobile era came in and freeways and everybody had to have two cars.”