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Robert Swan, L.B. Light-Rail Advocate, Dies

March 07, 1985|ERIC BAILEY

LONG BEACH — Robert J. Swan, a longtime advocate of light-rail transportation and self-proclaimed "public transit catalyst," died of an apparent heart attack Tuesday at City Hall, just before the council's weekly meeting.

Swan, 62, collapsed in the council chambers at about 9 a.m. Paramedics administered to Swan for about 20 minutes but were unable to revive him.

A native of Brooklyn, Swan was well-known at City Hall. He frequently appeared before the City Council to advocate his ideas about light-rail transportation. Although some city officials considered Swan a gadfly, others regarded him as knowledgeable spokesman on matters of rail transportation.

Lived on Navy Pension

For more than two decades, Swan lived on his Navy pension and devoted himself to advocating light-rail transportation systems in the Los Angeles area.

In recent months, Swan had prodded city officials over their indecision on the routing of the planned 22.5-mile trolley line linking Long Beach and Los Angeles. As Swan saw it, the Long Beach Boulevard corridor was the only practical route for the rail line.

On Tuesday afternoon, Swan had planned to again address the council on the subject during a hearing on the rail line. Out of respect, city officials Tuesday entered his comments into the record and adjourned the meeting in his memory.

Never married and with no relatives in the area, Swan lived in a small downtown apartment crammed with filing cases and bookshelves filled with the materials he had collected over the years on rail transportation.

Swan considered himself an expert on rail transportation and adopted the title "public transit catalyst" to explain his role as someone pushing for the expanded use of light-rail transportation.

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