Anaheim Council Asks OCTA to Keep Streetcar Option Open

Anaheim City Council members are asking the Orange County Transportation Authority to keep the city’s proposed streetcar as a priority despite a lack of local, state or federal funding for the project.

In a typical vote when it comes to the streetcar issue, the three-member council majority voted Tuesday in favor of officially requesting that the Transportation Authority (OCTA) look at options to connect a proposed route in Anaheim to Santa Ana’s OC Streetcar project, while Mayor Tom Tait and Councilman James Vanderbilt voted no.

The measure also asks OCTA to examine ways to connect the Anaheim Regional Intermodal Transportation Center (ARCTIC) to the city’s Harbor Boulevard corridor.

It is yet another example of the council majority continuing to push a streetcar project that has little support beyond Disney and the resort district business community. There is widespread skepticism that the proposed 3.2-mile route would ever generate enough ridership to cover its $300-million price tag.

OCTA voted earlier this year to table the proposal indefinitely, citing a lack of funding and the need to support projects that provide regional connectivity, rather than those that service one city.

Councilwoman Kris Murray, the council’s most steadfast supporter of the project, said during Tuesday’s meeting that given the progress of the OC Streetcar route connecting Santa Ana and Garden Grove, Anaheim officials should push the agency to incorporate the city’s needs into its study.

“As the city turns over the planning of the future streetcar program that is already planned in Santa Ana and Garden Grove….I think it’s important for us to  communicate our desires,” said Murray.

Tait, meanwhile, reiterated his long-standing belief that the streetcar would draw few new riders and duplicate the work of the existing bus system.

“I believe the streetcar is a  terrible waste of money…I believe the council should send a clear message that we cancelled the streetcar once and for all,” Tait said.

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.