MTA #266: From Pasadena to Lakewood

A More Than Red Cars reader writes:


How about an “analysis” (historical review) of Lines 76 (Valley Blvd. to El Monte from Downtown L.A.), and Line 266 (Sierra Madre Station to Lakewood Center via Rosemead Blvd.?

Maybe a review of these two bus lines will draw attention to getting more service on them!


The history of #76 is simple. Its roots are in the early “Motor Transit” bus lines running from Los Angeles through the San Gabriel Valley to points east (as far as Riverside and San Bernardino). As the San Bernardino Freeway opened, longer distance services were routed there, leaving the shorter, more local lines on surface streets such as Valley Bl.

The history of #266 is much more complex. It is helpful to remember that the street that #266 uses has two names: Rosemead Blvd. between Pasadena and Telegraph Road (Downey), and Lakewood Blvd. south of Telegraph. The two sections have different transit history. A single bus route along Rosemead and Lakewood Blvds did not exist until the 1976 restructuring of bus services in the San Gabriel Valley.


Lakewood Bl.

From the early 1900s, Pacific Electric operated an interurban trolley from Los Angeles to Balboa. This route split off from PE’s LA-Long Beach line at “North Long Beach” (present day Willow Blue Line station).

In 1940, buses replaced most rail trips between Los Angeles and Balboa, although PE railcars operated during the summer between 1942 and 1949. The buses ran from Los Angels chiefly via Telegraph Rd before turning south on Lakewood Blvd to East Long Beach. The bus then wended through Belmont Shore and Seal Beach before taking PCH all the way to Balboa. This bus line was designated #55 in 1943, retaining that number through LAMTA and SCRTD takeovers of the transit system in 1958 and 1964, respectively. #55 continued to operate until 1976, when it was replaced by new #829.


Rosemead Bl.

Bus service along Rosemead Bl, between Colorado Bl. (Pasadena) and Marshall St. (Rosemead) was provided by the Pasadena City Lines, as a branch of its Route #1 (Colorado Bl.). (The other two branches served Monrovia and Hastings Ranch). Pasadena City Lines operated local bus service in Pasadena from 1941 (when it replaced PE local rail services in Pasadena) and 1967 (when PCL was acquired by the SCRTD). However, service along Rosemead was always a bus line, never  rail. SCRTD designated PCL’s #1 as its #108, and continued operating it along Rosemead Bl. until 1976


Bridging the Gap

SCRTD’s #55 and #108 operated as if in two different worlds. There was no transit service on Rosemead between Marshall and Telegraph until April 1976, when SCRTD restructured several bus lines. New #829 ran from Hastings Ranch (picking up another branch of #108), then via Rosemead and Lakewood Blvds to Long Beach and on to Seal Beach, where the route ended.

1976 was also the year that SCRTD bid farewell to its service along PCH to Balboa. Orange County Transit District, which had existed since 1970, had added its own bus route along PCH from Long Beach to San Clemente, and was now quite capable of operating this service without “help” from the SCRTD.

In the “Great Renumbering” of the early 1980s, #829 received a new number: #266. Soon afterwards, the route was cut back from Seal Beach to Cal State Long Beach. In June 1995, LACMTA, desiring to save money, cut the route back even more, so that it only goes as far south as Lakewood Center Mall. (Long Beach Transit provides service south of Lakewood on its Route #111). #266 received a minor tweak in June 2003 with the opening of the Metro Gold Line Sierra Madre Villa station.

#266, like certain other LACMTA routes, has been operated by a private contractor since the mid-1990s. Service quality has varied considerably, depending on the particular private company operating the line.

(Now whether this writeup will help improve service on these lines remains to be seen. But keep your comments and suggestions coming! thanks!)




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. From Railway to Freeway (Motor Transit and PE bus history)

“Newport-Balboa Line.”

Western Transit, as needed





5 Comments to "MTA #266: From Pasadena to Lakewood"

  1. John McCready's Gravatar John McCready
    March 19, 2011 - 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Wonderfully done & detailed! And here I thought the Line 76 would have the more “interesting” (detailed) history (I thought it might have been a Pacific Electric or “Yellow Car” route!). Turns out the Line 266 is the one with all the drama! Nice to know! 🙂

  2. cph's Gravatar cph
    March 20, 2011 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    Actually, #70 (along Garvey) is closer to the old PE route than #76 (Valley)…

  3. Bob Davis's Gravatar Bob Davis
    April 11, 2011 - 12:08 am | Permalink

    Regarding the 266 (which is the nearest bus service to my home, and which I sometimes ride). To make it more practical as a connection to the Gold Line, the headway should be cut from 40-45 min. to 20.
    For at least a year, Rosemead Blvd. has been in the throes of a major reconstruction. I’ve commented that it wouldn’t be so bad if all this disruption were for the installation of a Light-Rail line.

  4. John McCready's Gravatar John McCready
    April 23, 2011 - 7:31 pm | Permalink

    The Line 266 SUCKS! This is a line the MTA flat out knows needs improvement, and WILL NOT DO IT! When the buses are not late, or breaking down, they are crowded to the point of a “standing ride only”. Unforturnately, it is IMPOSSIBLE to find out WHO at the MTA is in charge of scheduling, “line improvement implementations”, or other things that can improve a rider’s experience on a bus line that clearly needs it! I guess the mentailty is that if the MTA does not come up with a way to “improve” a line, it DOES NOT GET DONE!

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