The history of bus service on Western Avenue (which never had streetcars, except for a short section near Hollywood) began in 1923 when Los Angeles Motor Coach (a bus company jointly owned by the Pacific Electric and the Los Angeles Railway) implemented a local bus line (#84) on Western. Initially, #84 ran between Hollywood and Slauson; development south of that point was still rather sparse. About a year later, LAMC extended the bus service further south to Manchester Bl.
A different operator provided Service on Western south of Manchester. The West Side Transit Company, based in Long Beach, had operated a bus line between that city and Torrance from the early 1920s. In 1926, West Side Transt extended the route from Torrance, via Western, to Manchester Bl, enabling connections with LAMC #84.
West Side Transit’s owners initially planned to extend its route northward, via Western, into Hollywood. After the California Railroad Commission turned down West Side’s application, the company decided to sell the route to LAMC for $15,000. In 1931, LAMC acquired West Side Transit’s route along Western south of Manchester to Long Beach and extended it to Hollywood. This new route was designated #81, and operated “interurban service only” (e.g. no local passengers were carried between Hollywood and Manchester Bl.) LAMC provided service on #81, over varying routes, at least until late 1938.
Meanwhile, LAMC continued expanding #84 southward, as development increased in South Los Angeles. #84 reached 104th Street in 1939, 111th Street in 1947, and its current terminus, Imperial Highway, in 1949. (1949 was also the year that the Gardena Municipal Bus Lines started service on Western, south of Imperial Highway to Pacific Coast Highway.) In 1981, SCRTD renumbered #84 to #207, as part of the general renumbering of bus lines.
The most extensive change to #207 happened in mid-1995, when it was extended along 120th Street to the Imperial/Wilmington Blue Line Station. (This extension replaced part of Route #254.) Ridership along this segment was never spectacular, and #207 was cut back to 117th/Figueroa in 2004.
SCRTD added limited stop service (#357) along Western in 1988. Under MTA (“Metro”), this became Rapid Bus #757 in late 2005. The Rapid Bus is currently under threat of elimination because, according to officials, it “provided no substantial travel time savings when compared with Metro Local 207.”
As for service along Western south of PCH and into San Pedro: this segment was originally a branch of a local Greyhound line between Long Beach and Santa Monica. In 1960, V.M McDonald bought this portion of the route and operated it as “San Pedro Transit Lines.” SCRTD acquired SPTL in 1973, and designated it Route #145. This became #849 in 1976, and #205 (its current route number) in 1983. In 1990, SCRTD extended it to the Imperial/Wilmington Blue Line Station, replacing a portion of local Route #56 in the process.
Jones, Lionel. Los Angeles Bus Line History Book (updated route histories as of 2004)
Southern California Association of Governments. Transit Development Program.
(contains histories of bus routes up to 1971)
Bail, Eli. “Long Beach.” Motor Coach Age, April-June 2004
(LACMTA) Service Council Public Hearing Notice (June 2011):
SCRTD/MTA bus route maps/schedules as appropriate.