1973 – 2012

Terminal Island Trolley Company
A small transportation company formed in 1973 and operating primarily in the city of Furusato on Terminal Island. Its three short lines, along with Long Beach Transit's “200 Line” between Long Beach and San Pedro (which only runs every seventy-five minutes) and the ferry to San Pedro, provide Furusato's only public transit. However, thanks to low car ownership in the city and high tourist use, ridership averages 600,000-650,000 passengers per year.

The company currently owns six buses; three J.G. Brill model 570's that can hold thirty-two passengers and three GMC 3705's that can hold thirty-eight. They primarily use the 570's except during the summer season, when the 3705's are assigned to the “Long Beach Runner” line, or on the occasional excursion run, or when one of the 570's is in the shop.

All six buses are modified to look like electric trolley cars from the early 20th century, though they are in fact diesel powered and of course run on rubber tires rather than rails. Two of the 3705's are further modified to be “open air” trolleys in keeping with their use during the summer, while the third has been modified into a replica P.E. car.

Number Manufacturer Model Seating Built Acquired Lines primarily used on Notes
301 J. G. Brill Automotive 570-A 32 1986 January, 1989 East & West Loops  
302 J. G. Brill Automotive 570-A 32 1986 January, 1989 East & West Loops  
303 J. G. Brill Automotive 571-B 32 1988 March, 1995 East & West Loops  
201 GMC Bus Division 3705 38 1965 September, 1976 Long Beach Loop Converted to “Open Air” style in 1990
202 GMC Bus Division 3705 38 1965 September, 1976 Long Beach Loop Converted to "Open Air" style in 1990
204 GMC Bus Division 3705 38 1965 January, 1979 Excursion Converted to look like P.E. 1058 in 1995
Previous Buses
101 GMC Bus Division 2919 28 1953 March, 1973 East Loop Replaced by 570 in 1989, junked in 1991
102 GMC Bus Division 3110 34 1957 March, 1973 East Loop Junked in 1991
203 GMC Bus Division 3705 38 1966 April, 1977 West Loop, Long Beach Loop Destroyed in garage fire, April 3rd, 1988

The company currently runs its buses over three lines in the Furusato area.

The “West Loop” runs south on Bridge Way to Terminal Way, then west on Terminal Way to Seaside Ave, north-east on Seaside back to Bridge Way, then north-west along Bridge Way and over the Wilmington Bridge across the harbor's “Main Channel” to the San Pedro end of the bridge, where it drops off/picks up passengers from the nearby “Bridge Station” on the MTA's “San Pedro Line,” finally returning south-east on Bridge Way until it reaches Seaside Ave again, completing the loop – about three and three-quarters miles total. Stops are generally every block, except north of Seaside on Bridge where the only stop is at Bridge Station. One bus is run on this line, resulting in a wait time averaging fifteen minutes at any given stop.

The “East Loop” follows a far more complicated path that crosses itself twice as it provides connections between the “Old” and “New” town areas of Furusato. Heading east on Seaside from Kochiyama, it turns briefly north on Sakana St. before heading north-east on Riverside St. Reaching the end of Riverside, it turns south on Reeves Ave until it reaches Seaside, then west on Seaside to Houston Ave, south on Houston to New Rd, then west on New all the way to Barracuda St. From there it heads south on Barracuda to Cannery St, west on Cannery to Tuna St, back north on Tuna to Albicore St, then east along Albicore – crossing its route at Barracuda – until it reaches Kochiyama. It heads north on Kochiyama – making its second crossing of its own route at New – back up to Seaside, completing its loop – about four miles total. Stops are generally every block with the exception of along Reeves and New, where it is every two blocks. Two buses are run on this line, resulting in a wait time averaging ten minutes.

The “Long Beach Runner” is the company's third line, running only during the summer (defined generally as being from June 1st to September 15th, though the dates do change somewhat from season to season). It is the company's longest line, beginning at the “Ferry Parking Area” in Furusato. Here it heads north-east/east on Seaside Ave the full length of Terminal Island, then crossing the Terminal Bridge into Long Beach, where the road becomes Ocean Blvd. It continues east six-tenths of a mile to Pacific Ave, where it unloads/loads again for the return trip. The return is a reverse of the outgoing trip, ending up back at the Ferry Parking Area – about ten and a half miles total. It only makes four stops – at the Ferry, at Sakana, at Reeves, and at Pacific Ave, in Long Beach. A fifth stop used to be at “The Strand,” just west of the Inner Harbor Channel Bridge, but it was removed due to lack of use. Two buses are run on this line, with a twenty-minute average wait time at the stops.

The East Loop runs from 5 am to 8 pm, Monday-Friday, 7 am to 8 pm Saturday & Sunday.

The West Loop runs from 5 am to 11 pm Monday-Friday, 7 am to 11 pm Saturday & Sunday

The Long Beach Runner goes from 7 am to 8 pm Monday-Sunday, during its summertime operation.

In the early 70's, Furusato's population for the first time went from mostly employed in the local fishing industry to mostly employed off the island. However, this brought up the problem that its Public Transit system – which at that time consisted only of the ferry to San Pedro (Long Beach Transit would not route their 200 line through the city until 1979) – was based on the idea that everyone worked within walking distance of the canneries. Further, with the expansion of the “New Town” area, no longer was everyone within a mile of everything in town. Some sort of bus system was, therefore, needed to give the growing population mobility and a link to the greater Los Angeles area.

In August of 1972, Charlie Hamasaki and Kanshi Stanley Yamashita met with the city council to discuss their plans for a short bus loop through both the “Old” and “New” town sections. The franchise was granted in late 1972 and the “Terminal Island Bus Company” was officially incorporated on January 21st, 1973.

Acquiring two GMC buses in March of that year, the inaugural run was on Friday, March 23rd, with regular service beginning the following Monday. Initially, the two buses were used only on a route similar to what is now called the “East Loop” line, but also incorporating some of what would be the “West Loop” line; a figure “8” running along Seaside to Terminal to Bridge to Seaside to Sakana to Riverside to Reeves and back to Seaside.

The bus line was very popular, hampered only by the tendency of bus 101 to spend large periods being repaired at the company's garage on Seaside (three blocks east of the current garage at the corner of Seaside and Kochiyama). In late 1976, two more GMC buses were acquired to operate the new “West Loop” line which circled the Old Town area, and went across the newly opened Wilmington Bridge to connect with two MTA lines in north San Pedro. The East Loop line at this time both acquired its name and most of its modern route (the only difference being the section on New Rd, which continued on Seaside at this time. The change to New did not happen until 1985).

The next year, a third 3705 bus – 203 – was acquired to begin service on the “Long Beach Runner” line that summer. It proved so popular during the '77 and '78 seasons, that a fourth 3705 – 204 – was acquired in 1979 to join it on the line.

The buses continued to be popular all through the '80s, with ridership growing each year. However, by the late '80s, it was obvious that the first two of the company's buses – 101 & 102 – were no longer up to the task of servicing the East Loop. 101 spent so much time in the shop, in fact, that 203 became a defacto East Loop bus after 1985/86.

Then on April 3rd, 1988, there was a fire at the company's garage. By the time L.A. County Fire could put the blaze out, very little was left of the garage and its accompanying offices. 203, which was in for routing maintenance at the time, was also damaged beyond repair in the fire.

The company was now down to four buses again – two of them aging and unreliable – and totally lacking in maintenance and office facilities. During the next few months, the buses spent their nights parked at the California Tuna Canning Company parking lot, with limited maintenance performed under a tent at that facility, while office space was rented in a cramped office off of Terminal Way. Normal summer service on the Long Beach Runner line was not run that year.

A new garage and office complex on Seaside was built and moved into in early November of that year. And in late January of 1989, the company bought two nearly new J. G. Brill 570s. These Brill buses – numbered 301 and 302 – were designed to look like old-time trolley cars, a feature that made them popular with companies operating lines in heavy tourist areas (or in many cases, on tourist excursion lines) and they seemed a natural fit with a company operating in the historic and tourist-friendly city of Furusato.

Both were immediately assigned to the East Loop line, while the West Loop was split between 102 and 201 (with 201 operating weekdays, 102 weekends). 101 was retired to the new garage “for emergencies.” Meanwhile, 202 and 204 were cleaned up and prepared for the 1989 Summer season to run on the Long Beach line.

The new Brills were extremely popular, with many complimenting the faux-trolley design. So in early 1990, the company had 201 and 202 (204 replacing 201 on the West Loop) sent out to the local Brill plant in Torrance to have them converted to look like a pair of open-air “California Standard” trolleys for the upcoming Summer season. On Friday, June 1st of 1990, the two newly rebuilt “trolley” buses had their debut on the Long Beach line – along with a change to the company name itself. It was now the “Terminal Island Trolley Company.”

1990 saw the last run of 102 on the West Loop. The company attempted to find a buyer for it and 101, but finally was forced to junk the two ancient buses in late 1991.

The new “Trolley Company” continued to operate as usual through the '90s, with 204 handling all West Loop duties (backed up by 201 & 202 – though these were considerably less popular with riders during the winter months), the new 301 & 302 handling the East Loop, and 201 & 202 the Long Beach line during the summer.

In 1995, the company acquired its third Brill “trolley” bus – 303 – and it took over duties from 204 while it went to Torrance to have its own “trolleyfication” conversion. 204 was specifically converted to resemble old P.E. 1058, even to the point of creating dummy “trucks” underneath the vehicle to extend the illusion. After its return to Furusato in late 1995, the bus has since been used almost exclusively for excursions, occasionally traveling as far away as Balboa Island, making it the company's widest traveling bus.

In 1996, the MTA reopened the San Pedro trolley line and the operating schedule for the West Loop was slightly altered to match the new connection. Its hours were extended to 11 pm both on Weekdays and Weekends to ensure a late evening link between the MTA system and Furusato.

Since 1995, the company has bought no new buses, maintaining and operating their fleet of six with an impressive record of continual service. Plans, however, are to update 201 and 202 to newer Brill 570s (probably 577s or 578s) in the Fall of 2012 and to similarly update 301-303 in 2014.

The only further expansion that has been suggested has been making the Long Beach line an all-year rather than just summer one, but a test in 2002/2003 suggests that the ridership is just not there to support this. A further extension of evening hours on the West Loop to 1 or 2 am has also come up, along with adding a second bus during rush hours, but apart from extended holiday hours on certain days of the year, again, ridership does not seem warrant this.

Pasadena-D Terminal Island Trolley Company