OC Streetcar

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OC Streetcar
StatusUnder Construction
OwnerOrange County Transportation Authority
LocaleSanta Ana and Garden Grove, California
TerminiSanta Ana Regional Transportation Center
Harbor Transit Center
WebsiteOC Streetcar
SystemOC Streetcar
Operator(s)Herzog Transit Services
Rolling stockSiemens S700[1][a]
Planned opening2022 (2022)
Line length4.15 mi (7 km)[3]
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification750 V DC overhead lines
Route map

Harbor Transit Center
Maintenance and
Storage Facility
Santa Ana Regional
Transportation Center
Handicapped/disabled access all stations accessible

The OC Streetcar is a modern streetcar line currently under construction in Orange County, California, USA, running through the cities of Santa Ana and Garden Grove. The electric-powered streetcar will be operated by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), and will serve ten stops in each direction along its 4.15-mile (6.68 km) route.[4] With the exception of a short loop in downtown Santa Ana, the line will be double-tracked for its entire length. Most of the route follows the original path of the Pacific Electric Railway "Red Cars" that served Santa Ana in the early 20th century, before being abandoned in 1950. Construction on the streetcar broke ground on November 30, 2018, and the line expected to open to the public in 2022.[3][5]

The streetcar will operate between the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center to a new Harbor Transit Center in Garden Grove, offering a link to downtown Santa Ana, one of Orange County's largest centers for employment, arts, and entertainment, as well as nearby residential neighborhoods, parks, and trails.[6]


The streetcar's planned eastern terminus is the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center, which is served by Metrolink commuter rail and the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, as well as a number of bus routes. There are currently at least 65 daily Metrolink and Amtrak train connections at the SARTC. [7]

The streetcar's route runs west along Santa Ana Boulevard to downtown Santa Ana and the Santa Ana Civic Center, the main administrative center for the city and the County of Orange, where an estimated 38,000 jobs are located.[8] The route will split at Mortimer Street to form a loop on existing one-way streets with westbound service continuing on Santa Ana Boulevard through Civic Center, while returning eastbound service will travel on 4th Street (two blocks south), through the Arts District.[9]

After rejoining at Ross Street near the Santa Ana City Hall, the line will continue west along Santa Ana Boulevard to Raitt Street, where it will continue on the former Pacific Electric West Santa Ana Branch right-of-way along the north side of 4th Street. Turning northwest, the line will cross the Santa Ana River and then crosses Westminster Avenue, where it will enter the city of Garden Grove for a short distance. An intermodal transit center will be constructed at the line's terminus at the intersection of Westminster Avenue and Harbor Boulevard.[9][10] The transit center will connect to OCTA's Harbor Boulevard bus routes, which are the busiest in the county, accounting for about 8 percent of OCTA's ridership.[11]

Operations and infrastructure[edit]

A route map of the OC Streetcar project.
Route map of OC Streetcar

The streetcar will operate as a curbside, street running system between the Santa Ana station and Raitt Street; west of there, it will operate in a dedicated right-of-way.[12] Power will come from an overhead catenary system.[12] A single trip from end-to-end is expected to take 30 minutes, with streetcars arriving every 10-15 minutes.[13] OCTA projects a daily ridership of between 6,000[10] and 7,300[6] passengers, and each streetcar's total capacity is up to 180 people.

The route will include 10 stations in each direction, which will connect to 18 existing OCTA bus lines.[4] Each station will include platforms on either side of major cross streets.[6] The route will be double-tracked for its entire length except for the one-way loop between Ross and Mortimer streets.[14] The maintenance and storage facility will be located adjacent to 5th Street near the eastern terminus of the Pacific Electric right-of-way at Raitt Street.[4] The Harbor and Raitt stops will include park and ride lots; the existing parking structure at Santa Ana train station will also be used as a park-and-ride.[15]

Although the former Pacific Electric rail bridge over the Santa Ana River still exists, it is single-track and considered structurally inadequate due to its age. A new double-track bridge is being built parallel to the old bridge. In addition, the line may also cross Westminster Avenue on an elevated bridge to reach the Harbor Transit Center in Garden Grove.[12]

Eight Siemens S70[16][a] light rail vehicles will service the route, with six in operation at any one time.[6] The streetcar is proposed to operate from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays and holidays.[6] Trains will run every 10 minutes between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., and every 15 minutes at other hours.[12]

The OC Streetcar will use a proof-of-payment system, requiring valid payment before boarding and lacking a turnstile barrier at stations. Fares will be purchased as paper tickets and passes at ticket vending machines at stations, or through a mobile ticketing app.

Fares will be the same as charged on OCTA's OC Bus service. Herzog Transit Services won the contract to operate the service in 2020.[17]

List of stops[edit]

Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center, at the future eastern terminus
Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse, near the future Ross eastbound stop
OC Streetcar stops (east to west)
District Stop[12] Locale[12] Connecting services[18]
Station District
Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center Santa Ana Blvd. and Santiago St., near the Santiago Arts District Amtrak Amtrak

Metrolink (California) Metrolink

Greyhound Lines Greyhound
Bus interchange OCTA: 59, 83, 206, 462, 463, 560

Lacy Santa Ana Blvd. and Lacy St. Bus interchange OCTA: 83
French (westbound) Santa Ana Blvd. and French St.
French (eastbound) 4th St. and French St., near the Yost Theater and Frida Cinema Bus interchange OCTA: 19
Santa Ana
Downtown (westbound) Santa Ana Blvd. and Sycamore St., near Old Orange County Courthouse Bus interchange OCTA: 83, 462
Downtown (eastbound) 4th St. and Sycamore St., in the Arts District Bus interchange OCTA: 53, 53X
Ross (westbound) Santa Ana Blvd. and Ross St., near Santa Ana City Hall Bus interchange OCTA: 55, 83, 462
Ross (eastbound) 4th St. and Ross St., near Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse Bus interchange OCTA: 55
Flower Santa Ana Blvd. and Flower St., near OC Sheriff's Department, OC Superior Court, OC Department of Public Works, and Santa Ana Stadium Bus interchange OCTA: 55, 83, 150, 462
Bristol Santa Ana Blvd. and Bristol St. Bus interchange OCTA: 57, 57X
Raitt Santa Ana Blvd. and Raitt St. Bus interchange OCTA: 150
Fairview Civic Center Dr. and Fairview St. Bus interchange OCTA: 47, 47A
Bicycle facilities Santa Ana River Trail
City of Garden Grove
Willowick (TBD) Near Clinton St. and Redwood St., north of Willowick Golf Course
Harbor Transit Center Westminster Ave. and Harbor Blvd.; only station located in Garden Grove Bus interchange OCTA: 43, 60, 543, 560

Background and construction[edit]

Pacific Electric[edit]

View of the old PE right of way in Garden Grove, which will be developed into the Harbor Transit Center at the streetcar's western terminus

The streetcar will partially follow the historic route of the Pacific Electric interurban railway's Santa Ana Line, whose Red Cars operated between Santa Ana and Downtown Los Angeles via the West Santa Ana Branch right-of-way starting in 1905. The Santa Ana Line began at the old Southern Pacific Station (now demolished) at Terminal Street just south of the current Santa Ana train station, and traversed downtown Santa Ana via 4th Street.[19] Service to Orange County was terminated in 1950 due to the increasing use of automobiles and buses, and the original tracks through town were removed and paved over.[20]

West of downtown Santa Ana, the original 100-foot (30 m) wide right of way – purchased by OCTA after its abandonment – remains as a strip of vacant land extending diagonally across Orange County's cardinal street grid, from Santa Ana northwest to Cypress/La Palma on the Los Angeles County line. Although OCTA has allowed some temporary uses (such as parking) in the historic right of way, and most of the tracks have been removed, the authority always intended to return this corridor to transit use in the future.[19]

CenterLine proposal[edit]

The first proposals for a modern, second-generation light rail system, as opposed to a streetcar system, serving north Orange County appeared in the 1990s. The CenterLine project would have created several light rail lines, including a main line running from Fullerton via Santa Ana to Irvine. It would have included service along the current OC Streetcar route between the Santa Ana train station and Bristol Street, but not along the diagonal West Santa Ana Branch right-of-way. Multiple branches were also proposed for the line to serve other areas of Orange County; most of the lines would have been elevated. The initial 1992 proposal called for 90 miles (140 km) of light rail, which due to political opposition was reduced to 32 miles (51 km) by 2001, and 9.3 miles (15.0 km) by 2004.[21] The CenterLine was opposed mainly due to its high cost (more than $1 billion for the 9.3-mile (15.0 km) segment between Santa Ana and John Wayne Airport) and was ultimately canceled in 2005.[14][22]

Current project and construction[edit]

A streetcar along the current, east-west route (the "Santa Ana-Garden Grove Fixed Guideway Corridor") was first proposed by OCTA in 2006.[6] The streetcar was the result of OCTA's "Go Local" initiative, which offered funds for Orange County cities to study potential new transit links to existing Metrolink rail stations.[14] The Measure M2 sales tax increase, also known as OC Go, will be partly used to fund transit projects in Orange County, was also passed in 2006. [14][23] In 2008, the cities of Santa Ana and Garden Grove partnered with OCTA to develop the project.[24] The design was modeled after street-running light rail services of the Portland Streetcar (Portland, Oregon) and TRAX (Salt Lake City, Utah).[6]

Environmental reports were completed and the project qualified for federal funding status by 2015.[22] Former President Barack Obama included $125 million for OC Streetcar in the 2016-17 federal budget under the Major Capital Investments (New Starts) program.[25] In January 2017, Congress approved an additional $50 million in funding for the project, for a total of $175 million.[6] The streetcar was also one of the "Top 10 State Infrastructure Projects" that Governor Jerry Brown has recommended for expedited federal review.[26] The total funding would be 72.2 percent from the federal government, 8.6 percent from California's state cap and trade program, and 19.2 percent from the county sales tax.[27]

Inside of OC Streetcar vehicle
Interior of OC Streetcar vehicle

OCTA announced in September 2015 that HNTB Corporation would carry out design work.[28] The $15 million contract covered design of tracks, bridges, stations, associated utilities and the vehicle maintenance and storage facility.[29] In December 2016 OCTA released a request for proposals for the manufacturing and delivery of the light rail vehicles.[30] Construction is planned to start in 2018, and revenue service was expected to begin in 2020.[4] In March 2018, OCTA placed an order for 8 S70 vehicles (later rebranded as S700 by Siemens),[a] at a cost of $51.5 million.[31] By July 2018, costs had increased to a projected $407.76 million (up from an estimated $299.3 million as of June 2017[6]) with an expected completion in 2021.[5]

On September 24, 2018, OCTA awarded a $220.5 million contract to Walsh Construction Company to build the streetcar.[32]

On November 30, 2018, a groundbreaking ceremony was held, and the Federal Transit Administration announced that federal funding would be increased to $217 million.[33]

Future expansions[edit]

Santa Ana mayor Miguel Pulido has suggested the OC Streetcar system could become "the hub of a light-rail system that could connect the county’s core," with potential future extensions to Disneyland, Anaheim's Platinum Triangle and the John Wayne Airport.[34][35] An extension north to Anaheim along Harbor Boulevard could connect with the controversial Katella Avenue streetcar project (Anaheim Rapid Connection), should that project be built in the future. Although the Anaheim City Council rejected the Katella streetcar in January 2017,[36][37] OCTA has listed a streetcar connection in its Central Harbor Boulevard Transit Corridor Study, leaving the possibility that it could be built as a county project, rather than a city project.[11]

OC Streetcar is one of two current transit projects intended to use the historic West Santa Ana Branch, the other being a Los Angeles Metro Rail West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor line.[38] The two services are not planned to connect; however, the possibility of re-establishing service between Santa Ana and Los Angeles has been studied by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) since 2012.[39] Restoring full service to the Pacific Electric Santa Ana Line via light rail would cost about $3 billion to construct, and serve about 80,000 riders daily.[40][41]


Reception of the streetcar has been mixed among business owners and residents along the proposed corridor. Supporters suggest that the project would increase property values and increase economic activity along the route, as has occurred with light rail projects such as the Expo Line in Los Angeles County. [8] Underutilized areas along the route could be reappropriated for denser transit-oriented development, reducing the need for automobiles among new residents.[22] The Willowick Golf Course in Garden Grove is being considered for redevelopment, potentially as a regional park with sports arenas and outdoor amphitheater, with mixed-used neighborhoods adjacent to a proposed stop on the streetcar route.[42][43] In addition, 17.8 percent of households in the service area do not own a car, and the streetcar would markedly improve their access to the regional transit system.[8]

However, some businesses have opposed the project, citing that customers might avoid the area during construction, and that the rail line would eliminate parking spaces and increase traffic congestion. In addition, low-income residents have expressed concern over the potential gentrification of their neighborhoods, and being unable to afford increased rents as a result of the rise in property value.[44] The streetcar project has been criticized for its high cost ($70 million per mile),[14] and the inflexibility of a fixed-guideway transit system to adjust to system changes, as compared to buses.[45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c These were model S70 when the order was placed, but in 2020 were retroactively rebranded as model S700 by Siemens.[2]


  1. ^ Vantuono, William C. (March 28, 2018). "Siemens selected for OC Streetcar". Railway Age. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  2. ^ "Siemens rebadges North American low-floor cars". Tramways & Urban Transit (993). UK: Mainspring Enterprises Ltd. September 2020. p. 336. ISSN 1460-8324.
  3. ^ a b "OC And Federal Officials Celebrate Groundbreaking For Streetcar Project". KCAL9. November 30, 2018. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d "OC Streetcar". Orange County Transportation Authority. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Robinson, Alicia (July 9, 2018). "Orange County streetcar costs top $400 million; construction start delayed until fall". Orange County Register. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Escobar, Allyson (June 11, 2017). "Orange County's first modern streetcar plans to be the future of transit on track". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  7. ^ "Train Schedules | Metrolink". www.metrolinktrains.com. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c "Santa Ana/Garden Grove Streetcar Project, Orange County, California" (PDF). Federal Transit Administration. November 2015. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  9. ^ a b "OCTA Streetcar Map" (PDF). Orange County Transportation Authority. July 25, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Future is on Track for OC Streetcar Project". Orange County Transportation Authority. May 11, 2015. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Central Harbor Boulevard Transit Corridor Study". Orange County Transportation Authority. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Cordoba Corporation (October 2012). "Appendix C: Community Impact Assessment" (PDF). Santa Ana-Garden Grove Fixed Guideway Corridor: Environmental Assessment / Environmental Impact Reports. City of Santa Ana. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  13. ^ "OC Streetcar - Overview". www.octa.net. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  14. ^ a b c d e Orange County Grand Jury (2016). "Light Rail: Is Orange County on the Right Track?" (PDF). County of Orange. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  15. ^ Cordoba Corporation (August 18, 2011). "Appendix O: Engineering Drawing" (PDF). Santa Ana-Garden Grove Fixed Guideway Corridor: Environmental Assessment / Environmental Impact Reports. City of Santa Ana. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  16. ^ Vantuono, William C. (March 28, 2018). "Siemens selected for OC Streetcar". Railway Age. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  17. ^ "OCTA awards contract to operate and maintain OC Streetcar". Orange County Breeze. May 29, 2020. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  18. ^ "OCBus System Map" (PDF). Orange County Transportation Authority. June 11, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  19. ^ a b "Santa Ana and Garden Grove Fixed Guideway Corridor: Environmental Assessment/Draft Environmental Impact Report" (PDF). City of Santa Ana. May 2014. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  20. ^ Caltrans (February 1982). "1981 Inventory of Pacific Electric Routes" (PDF). Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  21. ^ Arellano, Gustavo (February 17, 2005). "Next Stop: Immobility". OC Weekly. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  22. ^ a b c "Rail could make a comeback in O.C. with proposed streetcar line". The Los Angeles Times. May 12, 2015. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  23. ^ "Calif.'s OCTA takes lead on OC Streetcar project". Metro Magazine. May 12, 2015. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  24. ^ "OC Streetcar". City of Garden Grove. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  25. ^ Kwong, Jessica (February 10, 2016). "OC Streetcar light-rail project for Santa Ana and Garden Grove makes Obama's budget". The Orange County Register. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  26. ^ Orange County Transportation Authority (February 27, 2017). "OC Streetcar Among Top 10 State Infrastructure Projects (press release)". Voice of OC. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  27. ^ "Santa Ana/Garden Grove Streetcar Project, Orange County, California" (PDF). U.S. Department of Transportation. December 2016. Retrieved August 11, 2017.
  28. ^ "OC Streetcar rolls ahead with designer chosen". Orange County Transportation Authority. September 16, 2015. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  29. ^ Alonzo, Austin (September 23, 2015). "HNTB will design California's first streetcar in modern era". Kansas City Business Journal. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  30. ^ "OC Streetcar releases RFP for 8 new vehicles". Metro Magazine. December 20, 2016. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  31. ^ Vantuono, William C. (March 28, 2018). "Siemens selected for OC Streetcar". Railway Age. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  32. ^ Robinson, Alicia (September 24, 2018). "OCTA awards $220.5 million contract to build OC Streetcar; construction expected to start this year". OC Register. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  33. ^ Robinson, Alicia. "OC Streetcar construction kicks off, with line set to be running by 2021". OC Register. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  34. ^ Kwong, Jessica (February 7, 2016). "Santa Ana streetcar could spark new era of mass transit in O.C". The Orange County Register. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  35. ^ Gonzales, Ron (June 25, 2012). "Proposed streetcar would connect Santa Ana, Anaheim, Garden Grove". The Orange County Register. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  36. ^ "Anaheim streetcar making a comeback". The Orange County Register. March 22, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  37. ^ Vo, Thy (January 11, 2017). "The Anaheim Streetcar Project Is Officially Dead". Voice of OC. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  38. ^ "West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor". Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  39. ^ Southern California Association of Governments (September 26, 2012). "Pacific Electric Right-of-Way / West Santa Ana Branch Corridor Alternatives Analysis" (PDF). Southern California Transit Coalition. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  40. ^ Brasuell, James (May 22, 2012). "First Plans Revealed For Rail From Union Station to Santa Ana". Curbed Los Angeles. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  41. ^ "Plans for potential $7 billion train through Downey finally unveiled". Downey Beat. May 2012. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  42. ^ Elmahrek, Adam (October 16, 2015). "Now It's Santa Ana's Turn to Dream of Great Park". Voice of OC. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  43. ^ Gerda, Nick (August 13, 2014). "OCTA debates proposed Santa Ana streetcar". The Orange County Register. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  44. ^ Elmahrek, Adam (April 6, 2015). "Santa Ana's Streetcar Project Has Inside Track". Voice of OC. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  45. ^ Orange County Register Editorial Board (May 24, 2017). "Another stop on OC's dubious streetcar". The Orange County Register. Retrieved August 6, 2017.

External links[edit]