In 2008, the cities of Santa Ana and Garden Grove came to an agreement with the Orange County Transportation Authority to build the Orange County Streetcar. The goal of the OC Streetcar is to connect multiple rail and bus routes to improve how people get around. The streetcar’s route is expected to be 4.15 miles long and finished around 2022.
Blueprint of the OC Streetcar
There will be 10 stops with 10–15 minute passing times in between each one. Each streetcar will hold up to 210 people and rails will be built along with the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center and a new transit hub at Harbor Boulevard and Westminster Avenue in Garden Grove. Its path will run along the urban areas of Santa Ana Boulevard and Fourth Street to increase employment, business and tourism to the surrounding areas.
“Harbor [B]oulevard is unique in the sense that it is the busiest OCTA bus route that we have,” CEO of the Orange County Transportation Authority Darrel Johnson told Spectrum News.
What to expect
Residents can expect construction work to take place on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Prior notice will be given if there are any changes to street sweeping or parking availability. Construction will involve building track platforms and repainting streets. During construction, residents can expect noise and vibrations throughout the railroads.
How it will be powered and how much it will cost
The OC Streetcar is powered by electrical lines and costs $408 million. This is a cumulation of $224.89 million from the federal government, $25.52 million from state funds and $172.88 million from local funds. A trip on the streetcar will cost the same as a bus ride.
“I support the decision for the OC streetcar because I have noticed that many people in my community don’t always have a reliable form of transportation. Therefore, with the creation of these streetcars, our community will be benefited,” Fountain Valley High School sophomore Valeria Euan said.
The OC Streetcar has been the subject of much controversy between Orange County’s elected officials. County Supervisor Don Wagner clashed with Santa Ana Councilmember Juan Villegas after streetcar construction prevented access to visitors dropped off at the county Civic Center. The city of Santa Ana also threatened to pull promotions of downtown businesses if they filed lawsuits against parking or traffic disputes caused by the streetcar’s construction.
The American Rescue Plan passed on March 11 allocated $9.4 million to the OC Streetcar. Many congressional Democrats supported federal tax dollars that went to the streetcar and argued it would increase the efficiency of transportation.
“Congress is taking swift action to maintain service, prevent delays to capital improvements and ensure a quick recovery. Without federal action, we risk long-term disruptions to service which could hamstring local communities for years to come,” Rep. Alan Lowenthal told the OC Register.
On the other hand, Congressional Republicans questioned the money’s place in the American Rescue Plan and its cost to benefit ratio.
“This streetcar, which does nothing in support of COVID relief, already cost taxpayers more than $100 million per mile,” Rep. Michelle Steel told the OC Register. “These funds would be better spent helping our teachers and students get back into school safely, and getting residents back to work.”