Trolley Cars For Santa Ana?

With all the talk surrounding Santa Ana’s “Renaissance Plan” one of the issues that is brought up time and again is transportation and in particular a street car system to and from the Santa Ana Transportation Center.  It seems as though everyone has an opinion on the subject and one thing is certain, people just can’t seem to agree on what they would like to see happen or if they want anything to happen at all.

Mayor Miguel Pulido and other political operatives have long wanted to see a light rail project come to Orange County and to Santa Ana in particular.  Many members of the voting public on the other hand have steadfastly opposed any such project and have made their voices heard time and again.  It is clear to me that the major stumbling block to such a project is, as it is with most things, the cost to the taxpayers.

I have long opposed a light rail system in Santa Ana based in large part to the fact that I did not believe that the proposed routes were feasible.  Those proposals had called for a light rail system that would have traveled along Bristol and/or Main Street.  The renewed talks have now focused on a proposed line in the area in which the Renaissance Plan is being proposed.  It has been suggested that a light rail system be established from the train depot to the downtown area and perhaps beyond.  This is a plan that I might be able to get behind and others that I have talked to agree.

Some within the city have suggested that we follow the model that is in place in the city of Portland, Oregon.  City officials have even traveled to Portland to investigate it for themselves and have reported back to the council and others within the city hierarchy.  The Portland system is a modern rail system and not very imiginative.  It just lacks that certain something and frankly is rathing boring.  If we are going to have a light rail system we should think outside the box.

My favorite city to visit is San Francisco and that is do in large part to the incredible public transportation system that they have in place.  In fact the “F-Line” which runs along Market Street to the Wharf is not only an effective means of transportation it is like traveling on a “museum in motion”.  The riders have the opportunity to ride on authentic streetcars, trams and trolleys, some of which were built as long ago as the 1890’s.  It is an incredible experience and I encourage everyone to experience it if they ever get to the Bay Area.

Known as the Market Street Railway, the project is a joint venture between a non-profit organization, the Chamber of Commerce and the local transportation agency.  It has been highly successful and been a major tourist attraction for the city of San Francisco.  With the historic value of downtown Santa Ana, which at one time included the Red Car, this type of project could be just what the doctor ordered.  Not only could it act as a means to transport business people who traveled via Metrolink to the courthouses and other business venues, it could also help transport folks to the downtown area for shopping and such. 

We might even see folks travel to the downtown area just to ride on the historic old trains and trolleys.  More people in the downtown can’t be bad for the economics of our city could it?  The “F-Line” has managed to revitalize Market Street and the surrounding area in San Francisco and a similar plan could do the same for Santa Ana.

Of course any of this is a ways off into the future and is going to take the efforts of those in all areas of the community.  It must be a conglomeration of both public and private entities with much input from the residents of our city.  The downtown merchants must play as big of a role as city hall, who must play as big a role as the transportation agencies.  But for this to work the citizenry must play the biggest role of all.  They must let their views known and their voices heard in regards to this plan.

I would like to hear from all of you out there in the blogosphere.  What would you think of a light rail system modeled after the Market Street Railway in San Francisco?  I eagerly await your responses.

  20 comments for “Trolley Cars For Santa Ana?

  1. what happened?
    December 18, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    What happened to you, Sean??? At Orange Juice, you were all about the immigrants of Santa Ana–now, once joining the Liberal OC, you’re advocate for Pulido!!! How would a trolley from the train station to downtown help all those immigrants you used to love???

  2. December 18, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    I am not advocating for Pulido I am advocating for something that I think can help our community. Am I supposed to oppose everything that Pulido supports just because he supports it?

    I still am an advocate for helping those less fortunate and for giving a voice to those that don’t have a voice. I have not turned my backs to those from the immigrant community and I don’t see how my potentially supporting a trolley car system goes against the immigrant community.

    The trolley system could lead to economic development and new and higher paying jobs for those in the community. I helped revitalize the Market Street area in San Francisco and it could potentially do the same for Santa Ana. Increased opportunities benefits everyone including the immigrant community that I still “love”.

  3. S A Teacher
    December 18, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    Sounds cool, Sean. And think New Orleans, too, regarding trolleys — a lot nicer and cleaner way to travel. Every year more people with jobs in Santa Ana have are moving inland because of housing costs and taking the train into work. We have to look way down the road to plan these things. They take a lot of time.

  4. December 18, 2007 at 8:07 pm


    I recommend you and everybody else ignore the drive by type commentary coming in from the OJ blog. They’re just trying to juice! another thread again. It’s boring of ’em, but there it is.

    For what it’s worth, I think everybody has a right to evolve their thinking. You included. But I am not sure about this street car plan. I think it is too expensive and not likely to be executed well. Santa Ana made its error years ago when it pulled it’s street cars, but that’s over now. Let’s preserve what is left of the historic area and develop a quick, cheap, clean bus system to run from the train station to downtown. … oh wait! That’s OCTA, my own former daily commuter service! It needs better funding perhaps?

    But seriously, the trolley rebuilds I have seen are mostly a joke. You can’t re-create your history on the cheap and do it well. It’ll end up looking silly… better to preserve what we still have in downtown Santa Ana … somebody make a donation to the Santa Ana Historic Preservation Society and get them on a serious program of preservation instead of being limited to preserving a couple houses and otherwise cannibalizing housing around the city just ahead of the wrecking ball.

    Buses serve the masses. The masses build the city. Build bus routes.


  5. anon
    December 18, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    Some have suggested having the line run from the Depot to the Civic Center. I think it should run past the Civic Center, on to Bristol Street (where there would be a parking structure) and then back to the Depot.

  6. transit police
    December 18, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Nothing wrong with the proposal to bring light rail to Santa Ana. Santa Ana is one of the best places to do it, high density, etc.

    Orange Juice is wrong on this one.

  7. Jon
    December 19, 2007 at 8:28 am

    What does everyone have against light rail?

    As for Portland, it may be “boring” but they are the model to follow. Their transit system is unparalleled. Light Rail, Buses, Trolly and Sky Tram all working in unison to flush out a seamless, affordable way to get around their fine city. We could learn a thing or two from those Northwesterners.

    As it stands OC’s transit system is huge stinking pile of crap and ANYTHING would be better than nothing. Stop opposing and just build it for christ’s sake.

  8. December 19, 2007 at 9:19 am


    That was a cheap shot. No one from my blog has commented on this story. For the record, Stanley Fiala is NOT part of my blog. We routinely delete his crazed comments.

    I do however agree with the rest of your comments. I have in fact recommended a bus trolley system. In Chicago they have such buses, they don’t look like the other buses and folks seem to like riding them. Plus you can reroute them without tearing out rail lines.

    The other problem with this street car idea is that you have thousands of uninsured drivers in Santa Ana. If they get involved in a car accident with a street car, they will likely flee the accident. Many are unlicensed and are not properly trained to drive in the first place.

    Consider also the route of this proposed line, from the train station to the downtown area. Most of the Latino workers in the area are not using that route. They routinely carpool or use buses to get to their jobs, which are often NOT in Santa Ana. The lawyers that may ride the Metrolink to the rail station might use the street car, but they could take a bus just as easily.

    I don’t see how this serves the people of Santa Ana.

    BTW, Pulido and company have NOT voted to install Quiet Zones in Santa Ana, to silence the trains at night. Now there is a good expenditure, which the OCTA is underwriting to the tune of 80%. I would much rather see them support the Quiet Zones, which WILL help our people, rather than this dumb street car idea.

  9. just...asking
    December 19, 2007 at 9:44 am

    When you look at successful downtown mass transit you have to understand the circumstances that made them successful. In locations such as Portland, San Francisco etc., these cities are designed like islands. Defined either by geography or economic vitality, there is a major center destination point. Some might think the County seat is such a center, but with more county offices and facilities moving to surrounding area’s this centers power continues to disipate.

    Santa Ana is nearby to Irvine, Huntington Beach, Anaheim, Mission Viejo, Costa Mesa, Orange and other cities with well established entertainment and shopping area’s that generate an incredible amount of revenues.

    Ask yourself will a trolley keep you from going to Disneywalk, SouthCoast Plaza or Laguna Beach? Don’t think so! The reality is the “train” has already left the station and Santa Ana unfortunately is not a stop.

    As for moving people effectively downtown and getting them out of their cars I’d support a bus trolley before any light rail infrastructure expenditures are made. Try various routes, collect data and see if enough people will ride your system. If the only thing you accomplish is move people out of OCTA buses to the trolley it’s not a win. Just work with OCTA to better serve the downtown. SA could then use the money saved to fix the potholes!

  10. Phil Bacerra
    December 19, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Art, your arguments against light rail could easily be applied to driving. We should not allow people to drive private automobiles or else uninsured drivers will get into accidents with each other and then flee the scene? As for quiet zones, why do trains even have to blow their horns when crossing intersections. Do cars honk their horns everytime they pass through an intersection? The bias of some automobile drivers towards trains and transit is ridiculous!

    The proposed streetcar will provide Downtown Santa Ana and the Civic Center a permanent connection with regional rail lines. Fullerton and Orange are fortunate to have stations within a very brief walk to their respective downtowns.

    Extensions of the streetcar line into a light rail system that could serve other parts of Santa Ana will only make using Metrolink and Amtrak that much easier. With the increase of Metrolink service to every half hour scheduled for that corridor, it makes connecting the Depot at Santa Ana with the rest of Santa Ana that much more important to helping to relieve congestion and provide Santa Ana residents transportation choices.

    Any future light rail system in Santa Ana that utilizes the Pacific Electric Right of Way should consider linking with Long Beach via the 22 Freeway, instead of duplicating a route that is too similar to the existing Metrolink/Amtrak corridor.

    If the Santa Ana streetcar line is done right, it will not only serve as a vital connection for Downtown, but the streetcars themselves could serve as an attraction and a reminder of Santa Ana’s wonderful heritage. I have asked many in the community to consider what a streetcar line in Santa Ana could be by utilizing restored Pacific Electric streetcars that would celebrate Santa Ana’s heritage. When I lived in San Francisco, I got to see first hand how the restored streetcars of the F-Line on Market Street successfully served as transportation and as an attraction.

    The proposed streetcar line could serve as the type of long-term investment in infrastructure that the investment in the 5 Freeway was previously. Let’s just hope that those who want to see Santa Ana move forward on bargain basement quality and priced projects are not at the helm of moving our wonderful city forward.

  11. December 19, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    For the record Stanley Fiala is a convicted wife beater and child abuser who served jail time and is currently on probation for those offenses. He filed a false police report with the Santa Ana PD accusing myself, Art Pedroza and Thomas Gordon of soliciting his murder.

    He is an extremely unstable individual who likes to harass people. Take anything that he says with a grain of salt.

    We at the Liberal OC believe in the free flow of ideas and as long as Stanley sticks to the issues at hand he is welcome to comment. However if he goes into his usual profanity laced nonsensicle rants perhaps we should think about editing his posts.

    In an effort to demonstrate the character of this loser below is a summary of the 5 count criminal indictment and conviction of Fiala:

    Count 1
    01/09/2004 273.5(a) PC M Corporal injury – on spouse/cohabitant

    Found Guilty by Jury 07/14/2004

    Count 2
    01/09/2004 243(e)(1) PC M Battery against cohabitant
    Found Guilty by Jury 07/14/2004

    Count 3
    01/09/2004 273a(b) PC M Child abuse and endangerment
    Found Guilty by Jury 07/14/2004

    Count 4
    01/09/2004 240 PC M Assault
    Found Guilty by Jury 07/14/2004

    Count 5
    01/09/2004 242 PC M Battery
    Found Guilty by Jury 07/14/2004

  12. Anonymous
    December 19, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    It’s a shame that this post about an important subject in Santa Ana is being hijacked by Stanley Fiala and his nonsense.

  13. cook
    December 19, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    Go local rail sound great to me. But as another poster said, a bus trolly would be a good fast start of such a line. Any one here ride the DASH lines in Los Amgeles?

  14. james
    December 19, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    Art, I did not say OJ bloggers were posting. I referred to “commentary coming in from the OJ blog,” something you yourself have now said twice on this blog recently re: Fiala. And see… we agree about the street cars.

  15. Anonymous
    December 19, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    I like the idea of using restored streetcars, like the ones that used to go through Santa Ana. Hopefully, the City Council will do that instead of the same old thing that one sees when they go to Portland or San Diego.

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