Angels Flight expected to reopen by Labor Day, officials say
For more than three years, the twin cars of Angels Flight have perched unused on their steep incline as graffiti bloomed on their windows and the sun bleached their orange paint into a gentle peach.
Aside from a cameo in the Oscar-winning movie “La La Land,” the iconic funicular in downtown Los Angeles hasn’t carried passengers since a derailment in 2013 that left a lone rider shaken, but unhurt
But the cars, Sinai and Olivet, could begin working again by Labor Day under the terms of a new agreement announced Wednesday.
A group of engineering and transportation firms has agreed to maintain and operate the 298-foot railway and cover the cost of several safety upgrades in exchange for a share of the funicular’s revenue over the next three decades.
Officials acknowledged the long wait for a plan to resurrect Angels Flight but said the long-term investment will help stabilize the funicular, which has seen long periods of neglect during its 115-year history.
“At a moment when downtown is experiencing this resurgence, the timing couldn’t be better,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference. He described the partnership as “the longest journey to the shortest ride ever.”
Regulators with the California Public Utilities Commission have refused to allow Angels Flight to resume operations without safety upgrades, citing the 2013 derailment and the death of a passenger in 2001.
The companies will pay for those upgrades, which include raising the height of the train’s doors to prevent passengers from being flung out during a sudden stop and installing a walkway connected to the track that riders could use if they had to evacuate.
“I will be riding it myself, that’s how confident I am in the engineers,” Garcetti said.
The private group will be led by ACS Infrastructure Development, the U.S. arm of a Spanish infrastructure company, in agreement with the Angels Flight Railway Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns the funicular.
Officials said the cost of the repairs and the contract’s total value are confidential.
The engineers have already taken the first step: In January, the CPUC approved a plan outlining how to bring Angels Flight back into service, spokeswoman Constance Gordon said.
The firms also will have the job of maximizing “local and repeat” ridership, advertising the funicular and integrating the line into the local transit network, said Geoffrey Yarema, an attorney who worked on the contract.