Friday, August 14, 2009

Where's My E-Train?:: Reminiscing About the Key Route System

The impending BART strike got me thinking about mass transit in the Bay Area. In 2002, when I lived in north Berkeley, I saw a street called Key Route in Albany near the BART line. I didn't think anything of it until I saw another reference to the Key Route system down by MacArthur and San Pablo when I was getting some car work done {site of an old station?}. Around 2004, I lamented how it would be nice if there were a light rail system in Oakland. I was thinking of a line along MacArthur/580 connecting MacArthur BART to the Emeryville big boxes on the west and Piedmont Avenue, Lakeshore, Highland Hospital, & Mills College to the east/south. Pie-in-the-sky stuff. I started doing some research on Google and found out about the Key System. The archives of The Beastblog {see 4 March 2003} has some background and links, so, as it turns out, there was a streetcar system in the East Bay in place that would take billions to re-create. Looking at the map, the system would have been a good complement to BART and if it were around today, I could catch it at the Claremont Hotel and take it in to San Francisco.

The Key System at one time had streetcars going over the Bay Bridge on the lower deck. Suffering the same fate of the Pacific Electric Red Cars in southern California, the Key System gave up the ghost in 1958. This video compiles photos related to the Key System::

Twitteversion:: Upcoming #BART strike made me think of defunct Key Route System. How I wish I could catch an "E" train 2 #SanFrancisco. @Prof_K


terri said...

nice little video of history, ken. i was aware of the key system (transit's a big part of my world). i have frequently heard that the key system went down due to a concerted effort by car companies, but this
says otherwise, that its demise would have occurred without GM's intervention.

Kenneth M. Kambara said...

Hey Terri:: Thanks for that article. I heard about this, but had no idea of the details of GM's dirty tricks. Ah, "progress."

My mom remembers the Pacific Electric redcars when she was growing up in Santa Monica in the 30s. Where I grew up, the old redcar railway was still in use for freight. I lived near the Moody & Cypress stations on this map southeast of downtown LA towards Santa Ana.

Thanks for stopping by!