I know that it’s not the case — but even the most recently transplanted Angeleno should know that Los Angeles was built around railroads. The first steam train appeared in Los Angeles in 1869, nineteen years after the city was incorporated. The first horsecar showed up in 1874. The first trolley began operation in 1885. The arrival of the transcontinental railroad ignited the first population boom in 1888. Electric trains were launched in 1890 and before long the region boasted the largest electric interurban rail network in world history.
Trains were an essential amenity in navigating Los Angeles and were thus often built by real estate developers. Streetcar suburbs were colloquially known as “toonervilles,” after the then-popular comic strip, Toonerville Folks (a.k.a. The Toonerville Trolley That Meets All the Trains). There were so many train lines and so many operator that this map is not complete. I did include, though, the first line (the Spring and Sixth Street Railroad Company), the biggest network (Pacific Electric Railway), and the most historically popular (Los Angeles Railway). I’ll add more over time.
Of course most of those early trains have vanished (most — because Angels Flight — inaugurated in 1901, moved to its current location in 1996). Many trains were replaced with buses — which, I suppose, is why so many vintage train nerds hate buses so much. I, for the record, have no problem with buses. Sure, they (for reasons I don’t honestly understand) lack the romance of even a streetcar but most people ride transit to get places, not for charm, and Los Angeles County’s buses have, since their introduction in the 1920s, been the the workhorses of our transit network.
That said, Los Angeles buses (and bus riders) have never been given the respect they deserve. Without bus-only lanes, they mired in traffic alongside private automobiles. Without frequent service, it often makes more sense just to walk. Without decent bus stops (e.g. ones with seating, shelter, lighting, route maps, charging stations, waste bins, Wi-Fi, &c), buses will remain the last resort, rather than first choice, for those with access to a car or bicycle.
Our trains, meanwhile, are nice (if slow) but our train stations are inexcusably lacking considering the fact that Los Angeles is the third wealthiest city in the world (measured by gross municipal product). The train stations in Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul, and Taipei — all less wealthy than ours — have brightly lit shops, excellent restaurants, vending machines, breastfeeding rooms, art exhibitions &c. Metro train riders, on the other hand, wait inside stations that have all the charm of a parking garage and should they need to use the restroom, well, there’s a doorway or elevator where, from the smell of it, many have peed before. There is hope, however; Metro is building its first station with a public restroom in Beverly Hills. Metro predicts it will open in 2025 — so, realistically, probably 2028.