It is with sadness that we learned of the death of Langley Powell on August 31st. He spent much of his transit career in San Diego where Cubic Transportation Systems is headquartered, so his accomplishments resonate on a professional – and personal – level.
In 1980, when most transit systems had abandoned the idea of using trolleys for light rail transit, Langley Powell began running the San Diego Trolley and saw quick success. The San Diego Trolley, which back then ran from downtown San Diego to the border, now runs over three rail lines and 53.5 miles to transport over 32 million passengers every year. Soon after Mr. Powell’s success with light rail, other cities such as Baltimore, Sacramento, Dallas, St. Louis, Houston, and several others followed suit, using San Diego’s system as the model. Mr. Powell also served as the president and general manager of the Metropolitan Transit System, which operates San Diego’s bus system, from 2001-2004.
Born in Chicago in 1941, Mr. Powell studied engineering at Lake Michigan College, as well as the College of DuPage. He began his career in transportation as a railroad electrician following a three-year stint in the U.S. Army. Prior to his work in San Diego, Mr. Powell also worked for the Federal Railroad Administration, the Chicago & Northwestern Railway, Amtrak and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.
Mr. Powell passed away August 31st in McComb, Mississippi, where he had retired with Ruby, his wife of 49 years. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Powell family during this time. Langley Powell will always be remembered for his contributions to San Diego’s public transit, and the effect his work has had on transportation systems nationwide. The Powell family asks that donations in his name be made to a children’s leukemia foundation of the contributor’s choice.
Photo credit: San Diego Union Tribune