Valley Bus Service until 1962
Los Angeles County has been served by public transportation for more than 130 years; the first "large" transit venture in the region began in 1887 with the Los Angeles Cable Railway (later renamed the Pacific Railway Company, which was one of the eight companies merged by Henry E. Huntington in 1911 to form the Pacific Electric Railway Company). Pacific Electric (PE) was responsible for the "Red Car" interurban system which ran 1100 miles of rail service at the peak of its existence, including two lines into the San Fernando Valley ... the Los Angeles-Glendale line (1904-1955) and the Santa Monica Blvd.-San Fernando Valley line (1911-1952). These two lines constituted the origin of the Valley's public transportation service.
Most of the bus service in the Valley was operated either by PE as feeders to/from the rail lines (primarily in Glendale, North Hollywood and Van Nuys), by smaller companies who only operated one or two individual lines, or by Asbury Rapid Transit System, which had been formed by a 1939 merger in which Original Stage Lines changed its name to Asbury Rapid Transit System and then acquired the equipment and routes of Pasadena-Ocean Park Stage Lines. In the following years, Asbury assumed control of several of the smaller companies' lines, as well as the three-line Burbank City Lines system.
PE -- by then controlled by the Southern Pacific Railroad -- sold its passenger operations to Metropolitan Coach Lines (MCL) in 1953. MCL acquired Asbury the following year, although the acquired lines continued to be operated under the Asbury "brand". These two maps show the lines of Asbury Rapid Transit (first map) and Metropolitan Coach Lines (second map) in 1954, just before the merger of the two. Note the predominance of service in the east Valley.
This map shows the combined Asbury and MCL service in 1957. Note that there was still very limited service west of Van Nuys Blvd.:
The combined network of service was transferred to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (LAMTA) -- which had existed as a planning agency since 1951, and whose powers were expanded in 1957 to allow it to be a transit operator -- in 1958. Over the next few years, service was added only as residential and commercial development generated sufficient potential ridership. This 1961 map shows that, three years after the LAMTA took over operations, service was little changed from seven years previous (this map showed the addition of two "express" lines which were the first new service since the takeover):
However, in 1962 one future-thinking MTA planner came up with a plan to expand service in the San Fernando Valley ... and he did it by using the same number of buses already in service!