OC Streetcar Plans Roll Forward with Selection of Vehicles

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OC Streetcar Plans Roll Forward with Selection of Vehicles

The contract for up to $51.5 million will provide eight vehicles, each able to carry 180 riders  

ORANGE – Plans for Orange County’s first modern streetcar rolled forward when the Orange County Transportation Authority board of directors on Monday approved the purchase of the streetcars that will carry passengers on the route through Santa Ana and Garden Grove.

The contract with Siemens Industries, in the amount of up to $51.5 million, will provide eight streetcar vehicles and spare parts and tools. The OC Streetcar route will have six vehicles in operation and two spare cars that can be rotated into the system as needed.

"This is an important and exciting milestone for the OC Streetcar project as we have decided upon the vehicles that will provide Orange County residents another public transit option,” said OCTA Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett, also the Fifth District Supervisor. “We’re looking forward to making the vision for a modern electric streetcar here in Orange County a reality."

The contract for the streetcars comes with the option to purchase up to 10 additional streetcars at a later date, if necessary. As part of the deal, Siemens will provide systems support and training to operators and maintenance technicians once the vehicles are delivered.

The OC Streetcar project is estimated to cost $299 million, with funding coming from Measure M, Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, and a mix of state and federal funding.

OCTA has been working closely throughout planning and design with the Federal Transit Administration, which is considering a full funding grant agreement to pay for about half of the project’s cost. Of that, $50 million was included in the President’s 2017 budget.

Because OCTA met all federal guidelines during the development of the project, FTA officials gave OCTA written pre-award authority to move forward with the purchase of vehicles. On March 23, Congress funded about $2.6 billion toward Capital Improvement Grants funding, which is a promising signal for the OC Streetcar project to receive the full funding grant agreement.

The OC Streetcar will operate from the busy Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center, along Santa Ana Boulevard and Fourth Street and along the Pacific Electric right-of-way to Harbor Boulevard in Garden Grove.

The route will serve Santa Ana’s thriving downtown and dense employment areas that include county and local government offices and courthouses in the Civic Center. The OC Streetcar route will also connect with many of OCTA’s busiest bus routes and Metrolink commuter rail. It is expected to carry more than 7,300 passengers per day within its first year of operation.

The model of streetcar that Siemens will provide, called the S70 model, has proven successful in other cities nationwide. At least 342 streetcars of that model are in operation in eight U.S. cities.

The vehicles are 88 feet long and have 70 seats, carrying up to 180 passengers at a time. The streetcars will have doors on each side, operator cabs in the front and back, and level boarding – meaning no steps are required to enter or exit the streetcar.

This summer, the OCTA board will review branding of the OC Streetcar, which is expected to be similar to the blue, orange and white branding of the OC Bus system.

Construction on the OC Streetcar is set to begin later this year with testing and operations beginning in late 2020.

For information on the project, visit www.OCstreetcar.com.

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