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First Plans Revealed For Rail From Union Station to Santa Ana

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Did you know there is a plan to develop the West Santa Ana Branch of the old Pacific Electric corridor into a public transit line with a projected ridership of 80,000 passengers a day? The Downey Beat reports that a planning effort, led by the Southern California Association of Governments, has produced an Initial Executive Summary for a Alternatives Analysis Report (pdf) for the long-stewing plans (they've been floating around since 2002). The Executive Summary lays out a pretty large variety of options--everything from a no-build alternative to streetcars, light rail, and Maglev train (sorry, no gondolas). The report also analyzes differences in cost and ridership among several alternative routes along what is currently called the Orange Line (yes, that name is already taken)--the most robust possibilities for the line would extend along the Pacific Electric right of way (PEROW) between Union Station and Santa Ana. The Executive Summary makes a case that the PEROW has the elements necessary for a rail line: the projected ridership of the line exceeds the capacity for a Bus Rapid Transit System by two or two and a half times, with the light rail alternative achieving the highest ridership. The projected ridership of the light rail line would be more than 80,000--that's more than the 64,000 daily riders expected to use the Expo Line when it reaches Santa Monica.

Of course, good intentions do not a transit line make. Although the planning effort for the Orange Line has funding from the Measure R sales tax, the project would have to compete for regional, state, and federal transportation funds to progress, and a light rail line would require $3 billion to build and $210 million a year to operate. Some cities in Orange County aren't keen on building and maintaining a public transportation corridor through their quiet bedroom communities, and some of the LA County cities along the route prefer the Maglev alternative--which, you know, would cost $7 billion. Then there is also the fact, according to the DB, that "The Metropolitan Transportation Authority doesn't own any rail lines through the area, so the builders would need to negotiate with the Union Pacific Railroad to work out an arrangement to use the company's rights of way."

The steering committee of the Orange Line Construction Authority is expected to present final recommendations in June of this year.
· Plans for potential $7 billion train through Downey finally unveiled [Downey Beat]
· Alternatives Analysis Report Pacific Electric Right of Way West Santa Ana Branch [Official Report]