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.Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â Those proposals had called for a light rail system that would have traveled along Bristol and/or Main Street.Ã‚Â The renewed talks have now focused on a proposed line in the area in which the Renaissance Plan is being proposed.Ã‚Â It has been suggested that a light rail system be established from the train depot to the downtown area and perhaps beyond.Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â The Portland system is a modern rail system and not very imiginative.Ã‚Â It just lacks that certain something and frankly is rathing boring.Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â In fact the “F-Line”Ã‚Â which runs along Market Street to the WharfÃ‚Â is not only an effective means of transportation it is like traveling on a “museum in motion”.Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â It has been highly successful and been a major tourist attraction for the city of San Francisco.Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â
We might even see folks travel to the downtown area just to ride on the historic old trains and trolleys.Ã‚Â More people in the downtown can’t be bad for the economics of our city could it?Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â It must be a conglomeration of both public and private entities with much input from the residents of our city.Ã‚Â The downtown merchants must play as big of a role as city hall, who must play as big a role as the transportation agencies.Ã‚Â But for this to work the citizenry must play the biggest role of all.Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â What would you think of a light rail system modeled after the Market Street RailwayÃ‚Â in San Francisco?Ã‚Â I eagerly await your responses.