Rail’s Loss, Cities’ Gain

Times Staff Writer

With the controversial CenterLine light-rail project shelved, the Orange County Transportation Authority on Friday redirected more than $60 million to increase bus and Metrolink service.

“CenterLine is now dead,” said Orange County Supervisor Bill Campbell, chairman of the OCTA board. “And we have to use the money for other transportation options or lose it.”

Federal funding could not be found for the $1-billion CenterLine, which would have run 9.3 miles from John Wayne Airport to the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center.

Instead, the board approved expanding Metrolink rail service between Fullerton and Laguna Niguel / Mission Viejo by running trains every 20 to 30 minutes between 5 a.m. and midnight, seven days a week. Service is now provided five days a week at peak commuter times.


OCTA will link Metrolink service to future high-speed rail lines that could connect Orange County to Los Angeles, San Diego, Ontario and the Bay Area.

The transportation agency will give $30 million to cities for development of transit stations that link Metrolink stations to major activity centers using buses, monorail, light rail or other transit technologies, Campbell said.

The money allows each city to develop its own station, he said.

The other $30 million will fund a bus rapid transit system using alternative-fuel buses with stops every mile rather than half-mile.


There will be two routes: a 69-mile route on Harbor Boulevard and Westminster Boulevard / 17th street and a 28-mile route from the Brea Mall to the Irvine Transportation Center.

The buses will run on existing streets and have traffic-signal priority. Bus-mounted GPS technology will provide real-time arrival information at bus shelters.

In addition, a new shuttle service for the Irvine Business Center near John Wayne Airport will begin shortly.