Los Angeles Railway’s Type M ‘Peter Witt’ Cars
In response to public complaints to a fare increase in 1928 (5 cents to 7 cents), the Los Angeles Railway promised new updated cars and line improvements. LARy began a campaign of modernizing older cars and began testing prototypes of new cars. In 1930, LARy ordered two experimental cars from the St Louis Car Company of the Pay-As-You-Enter “Peter Witt design”. Passengers would enter the front of the car and exit from the doors in the center. These cars were numbered 2601 and 2602 and were designated ‘Type M’. To test different types of mechanical and control components, 2601 was outfitted with Westinghouse products while 2602 was fitted with components by General Electric. LARy planned to operate both cars and decide which components would be used for a future order of Type M cars. 2601 and 2602 were delivered to the LARy Vernon Yards on October 16, 1930. After fitting of electrical equipment and finishing touches at the South Park Shops, both cars were placed into service on December 1, 1930. Both cars were deemed successful, with the exception of the location of the trucks under the car body. The trucks were mounted too far away from the car ends, causing extreme overhang on tight curves. To limit the possibility of the Type M cars colliding with oncoming streetcars, 2601 and 2602 spent most of their careers on the relatively straight 7 Line on South Broadway and Spring St to Civic Center.
The Great-Depression caused financial hardship to the Los Angeles Railway. Plans for ordering new cars were indefinitely placed on hold. LARy never ordered any more Type M cars. When financial conditions improved and the LARy was able to purchase new cars in 1937, the LARy as with many other street railway companies strongly preferred the newly developed President’s Conference Committee (PCC) cars.
Small improvements were made to 2601 and 2602 over the years. Most notably, both cars were converted for one-man operation in August of 1934 with the addition of dead-man controls and controls for the motorman to operate the center doors from the front of the car. Minor changes were made after 1936 until the end of their careers, most notably to the alteration and eventual elimination of Eclipse Fenders. With the sale of the Los Angeles Railway to Los Angeles Transit Lines in January 1945, 2601 and 2602 were both painted into the LATL “Fruit Salad” green and yellow livery.
On September 10, 1950, 2601 and 2602 were placed into storage, victims of a campaign to curb the use of ‘oddball’ cars and the need to have spare parts on hand. Both cars were stored at Division 1, being used on numerous occasions for railfan excursions. With the mass abandonment of many streetcar lines in Spring of 1955, 2601 and 2602 were retired along with many other cars. While most cars were sold to which were sold to National Metals on Terminal Island for scrap, The Southern California Division of Electric Railroaders Association purchased 2601 from LATL for $200. The association also attempted to purchase 2602, however LATL would not sell the car as the wheels we heavily worn and in a dangerous condition to operate. 2602 fell to the same fate of its brethren at National Metals. 2601 was placed display at Travel Town at Griffith Park, along with numerous streetcars preserved by SC-ERA and its members. In 1959, 2601 was relocated with much of the streetcar collection to the Orange Empire Trolley Museum in Perris, California, now the Southern California Railway Museum. 2601 again transported passengers for many years at the museum. As of 2021, 2601 is nearing the end of a complete restoration which is scheduled for completion later in the year. Donations to the Southern California Railway Museum “Yellow Cars Fund” facilities the restoration and operation of the yellow Cars, like 2601.