Posted on Sep 23, 2008 in Weblog | 2 comments

I happened to pick up the September/October 2008 edition of the Greater Santa Ana Business Alliance’s newsletter CityLine at The Depot at Santa Ana, and they had a fascinating article titled "Light Rail System Moving Closer to Reality." In essence, light rail will be a reality in five years, from the Metrolink station to Garden Grove:

The city of Santa Ana is gathering experts who will develop plans for a proposed light rail service through the city.

Public Works Director Jim Ross says the consultants to be hired by the end of the year will develop a preliminary design for a streetcar system running from the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center (SARTC) to Harbor Blvd. Funding for the design work and environmental impact study of the project will come from a $5.9 million grant by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA).

Ross says the city hopes to have the early phases of the system operating within five years, though it’s still too early to predict whether that timeframe can be met. …

The proposed railcar system would create a five-mile transportation corridor that would connect the Metrolink SARTC with Garden Grove. A number of routes are under consideration, but the system will likely run through the downtown and Civic Center areas, then head northwest past the Willowick property, where a new soccer complex is being proposed. …

To accommodate the project, the SARTC would be expanded and renovated. Once completed, transportation services available from SARTC would include Amtrak, Metrolink, light rail, OCTA bus rapid transit, and other bus systems. …

Awesome. I dearly hope, however, that this system will be OCTA-branded and operated. Small municipal operators are popping up all around this county, including the Irvine Business Shuttle (IBS) and Anaheim Resort Transit, and that makes traveling around by transit a far more confusing, expensive experience. This is similar to Los Angeles County’s balkanized transit operator groups: Los Angeles doesn’t just have Metro, but at least 15 other bus systems, each of which have their own set of rules, fares, and branding. Should public transit hope to compete against the more aggressively-marketed automobile mode of transportation, public transit branding and systems should be united or linked to provide a more seamless experience.