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Friday Fun: Sustainable Mobility in the Movies
The movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit depicts the demise of Los Angeles' Red Car -- "The Best Public Transportation System in the Country" -- in the 1940s. Image via evworld.com.

The movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit depicts the demise of Los Angeles' Red Car -- "The Best Public Transportation System in the World" -- in the 1940s. Image via evworld.com.

Hallelujah! It’s Friday.  That means it’s time for another dose of Friday Fun, to send you into your weekend right — with sustainable transport on your mind.

This week, we’re looking at public transport in the movies, and highlighting two movers and shakers who would be real urban visionaries, if only they were real.

The first: Thomas Wayne, Batman Begins

Batman is a superhero who makes sure that Good prevails in Gotham City.

But who instilled this sort of magnanimity in little Bruce Wayne?  His father, Thomas Wayne.

Thomas even promoted the “Access for All” concept in Gotham City by providing public transport for all of the city, telling his son: “Gotham’s been good to our family, but the city’s been suffering. People less fortunate than us have been enduring very hard times. So we built a new, cheap, public transportation system to unite the city.”

Thomas Wayne is the kind of transit-enlightened leader more cities need.

Next up: Eddie Valiant, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Eddie Valiant really won our hearts when he said, “What the hell’s a freeway?” in response to Doom’s “construction plan of epic proportions.”

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is set in the 1940s, when the Pacific Electric’s Red Car still brought everyone anywhere they needed to go in Los Angeles.

A freeway, Doom informs Eddie, is “eight lanes of shimmering cement running from here to Pasadena… Soon, where Toon Town once stood will be a string of gas stations, inexpensive motels, restaurants that serve rapidly prepared food. Tire salons, automobile dealerships and wonderful, wonderful billboards reaching as far as the eye can see.”

Eddie doesn’t buy into the car idea.  A kid screams at him, “Hey mister. Ain’t you got a car?” He responds, “Who needs a car in L.A.? We have the best public transportation system in the world.”

Writers Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman say Doom’s freeway plot was based on reality in the 1940s, when car and tire companies teamed up against the Pacific Electric Railway system. (For more on this scandal, see here and here.) This led to the demise of the Red Car and the rise of car culture.

This is Good versus Evil depicted as public transportation versus freeways & car culture.  Now, we’re watching to see if Good will prevail again: in the next ten years, L.A. may get thirty years worth of public transit projects. To find out more about how to support L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s 30/10 plan, check out MoveLA.

Thanks to EMBARQ‘s senior transport engineer Dario Hidalgo for recommending this movie.

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