Streetcars named desire?

Los Angeles was home to the world's largest electric streetcar system before it became the car capital of the world. Now, the city may get a dose of deja vu, at least in its booming downtown area, according to the L.A. Weekly.

The city approved a ballot measure that would free up about $62.5 million in local funding by way of property-tax assessments on land parcels on or near the proposed line, which would run about four miles through various downtown districts. That would provide about half the funding needed to get the line up and running, the L.A. Weekly said, citing the nonprofit L.A. Streetcar Inc.

If all goes well (but let's face it, this is a public project, so all rarely goes well), construction may begin as soon as 2014 with an opening date sometime in 2016. LA's old Pacific Electric "Red Car" system was the world's largest of its kind in the 1920s and once had 900 electric trollies using more than 1,100 miles of track throughout Southern California. The growth in popularity of the automobile during the ensuing decades cut into the Red Car's user base, and the trollies stopped running in 1963.