OCTA Committee Recommends Anaheim Abandon Streetcar Plans
This seems like a pretty big blow to not just the Anaheim streetcar, but to the ARTIC station as well. A committee of the Orange County Transportation Authority board of directors is recommending Anaheim abandon its streetcar plans that would link the Disneyland resort to the future HSR station at ARTIC:
Citing the over $300 million cost and the likelihood that federal funding won’t materialize, the ad-hoc committee – consisting of board Chairman Jeffrey Lalloway, directors Shawn Nelson, Tim Shaw and Tom Tait, who is also mayor of Anaheim – is recommending that the city quit the streetcar project and instead explore alternatives, like enhanced bus services.
“The Committee recommends the city no longer pursue a streetcar alternative and instead work with OCTA on future planning efforts that are broader and include conventional as well as advanced bus transit alternatives,” the report reads.
There were a number of other concerns raised, including the possibility of worse traffic congestion on Katella Avenue (which is a claim I’m skeptical of) as well as technological incompatibility with a proposed Santa Ana streetcar. Both of those issues seem fixable, so I have to believe that the bigger problem is that OCTA doesn’t believe the Anaheim streetcar will get federal funding and therefore they don’t want the city or the county to pay for it themselves.
Local businesses in the “Platinum Triangle” area of Anaheim (basically, the area around Angel Stadium, on the other side of the 5 from the Disneyland resort) still seem committed to the streetcar project, but without OCTA or federal funding, it’s unclear if they’d be willing to foot the bill all by themselves.
If the streetcar proposal is dead, it would be a blow to the ability of high speed rail to effectively serve the Disneyland resort area. It wouldn’t be a fatal blow, however, as there would still be opportunities for connecting transit service from ARTIC to the resort, and families with luggage might still be willing get off of HSR and hop on a shuttle bus for a short trip to their hotel.
But even if that happens, it’s still a blow to ARTIC itself, further validating critics who argued that the City of Anaheim was wrong to build and open the station so far in advance of connecting services, like HSR and the streetcar.
ARTIC has already struggled in its first year, with low usage and design problems that have caused most train riders to bypass the interior of the station.
If there was any remaining doubt that Anaheim made a mistake in building ARTIC this early, the news about the streetcar should remove it. Anaheim should have waited and opened ARTIC along with HSR service and the streetcar.