Bunker Hill Loses Trolley Service

Times Staff Writer

The Bunker Hill Trolley, a brightly painted bus that shuttled passengers up and down the steep hills that separate Grand Avenue and Hill Street downtown, was scheduled to make its last rounds Sunday.

The service was started in 2001 to replace Angels Flight Railway, a hillside cable car that was closed that year after an accident killed an 83-year-old man and injured seven others.

James Okazaki, assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, said the shuttle wasn’t attracting enough customers to meet the city’s performance standards. Though Angels Flight each month had hauled 64,000 people up the sharp incline, the trolley drew only 5,000 passengers per month, he said.


The city had spent about $1 million running the trolley, which was meant to be an interim fix while the nonprofit foundation that ran Angels Flight raised money to repair the historic attraction, he said.

“We kept waiting and waiting and waiting for Angels Flight to be reopened,” Okazaki said. “It’s a shame that we have to cancel it, but we have a standard to follow.”

John Wellborne, head of the railway foundation, said the organization hopes to reopen Angels Flight by the end of 2005. All claims from the 2001 accident have been settled, he said, and the railway’s two cars have been repaired and restored. The foundation plans to rebuild the railway with a safer design.

Architect Brenda Levin, who serves on the railway foundation’s board, said the foundation is moving forward with plans to rebuild Angels Flight, and that in the interim the trolley helped link Grand Avenue’s businesses and arts institutions with vendors at Grand Central Market.