By the end of 2019, people may be able to ride the streetcar from the train station to Garden Grove – through downtown and many Santa Ana attractions – as part of the Santa Ana-Garden Grove Fixed Guideway Project. It appears to be a well thought out way to facilitate public transportation, improve traffic flow and demonstrate concern for the environment at a reasonable cost.
The TSM Alternative, a bus service improvement project, would increase the frequency of OCTA bus service along designated routes within the study area, fund intersection/traffic signal improvements and upgrade bus stop amenities. Streetcars share their rights-of-way with automobiles and travel with the flow of traffic. The lightweight vehicles are designed for short trips that make frequent stops.
Stations would be located every half-mile. The stations in the Downtown/Civic Center area would be closer together with stops every 2 to 3 blocks. Shelters will be narrow enough to integrate into existing sidewalk areas and will be transparent enough to maintain visibility to storefronts. The natural beauty of the neighborhood will be preserved, because trees not be removed for the stations.
Funding would come from a variety of sources. They include Renewed Measure M, Orange County’s half-cent tax for transportation, as well available state and federal transportation funding sources.
Modern streetcar systems, such as those in Tampa, Charlotte, Seattle and Portland are slower, cleaner and quieter than light rail systems. All of the streetcar systems that have been built in the US within the past 10 years have been successful at improving transportation and boosting the local economy. Modern streetcars operate similar to buses in city streets, moving with the flow of traffic and allowing passenger pick-up and drop off.
The TSM Alternative sounds like a win-win.