Safety Treats in the Streets

More than 5,000 people participated in the Treats in the Streets festival in Old Towne Orange. OCTA's safety team headed by @RailSafeSarah on Twitter decked out as a train engineer and shared with the youngsters safety tips for railroad crossings.

It's part of the Orange County Transportation Authority's rail safety program, the nation's first comprehensive program that involves rail safety devices at crossing and a public information program.

In addition to traditional treats, Sarah Swensson, OCTA's rail safety specialist, distributed items with important safety tips.

"It wasn't just a typical trick-or-treat evening of fun, but also included important safety reminders for children and their parents," Swensson said. "It was fun to see the kids' smiles and their costumes. But I especially liked the kids who matched my train engineer outfit."

Swensson and the OCTA team will make her next rail safety stop at Anaheim's spooktaculor event -- the Fall Festival from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31 in downtown Anaheim at the Center Street Promenade.

Transportation in 2: Impact of Bus Reductions

Monday, Oct. 26 is an important day for Orange County, especially if you're one of the 80,000 people who rely on OCTA buses to get to school, work, doctors office, grocery store or other important destinations.

The OCTA board of directors is conducting public hearing at 9 a.m. to hear from the community on proposed strategies to reduce bus services to address the devastating impact of state budget cuts and dwindling sales tax revenues because of the economic recession.

Tell me what you think. How should OCTA proceed?

Rail Safety: Critically Important

This astonishing news story from CNN reminds us the importance of rail safety. That's why OCTA has undertaken a safety program throughout Orange County aimed at boosting public awareness of safety.

OCTA's Web site contains vital information about rail safety or you can get the latest update by following rail safety information specialist Sarah Swensson on Twitter.

Tell us what you think we should do to help promote safety in Orange County.

Doggone Fun Aboard Transit

Approximately 90 people and 60 dogs participated in the Orange County Transportation Authority's annual service animal training to help calm the nerves of our four-legged friends and their human handlers with a bus ride that started in Fullerton, Calif. and ended with a fun-filled time at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif.

A special thanks to Pam Peters of the Garden Grove bus base for coordinating the training for Orange County's canines and their human friends.

OCTA media relations intern Elmira Karimzadeh, a Cal State Fullerton student, coordinated the news coverage for the high-paw event Saturday, Oct. 3 and captured the miles of smiles and constant tale wagging.

Twitter Gives Major Boost for High-Speed Rail

Leaders from Southern California joined Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at a news conference Friday, Oct. 2 at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to officially announce that the state submitted a $4.7 billion application for federal stimulus funds.

Californians approved a nearly $10-billion bond last November for a high-speed rail system that could connecting Southern California to the Bay Area and Sacramento. Gov. Schwarzenegger said California would match the federal grant "dollar for dollar."
California's high-speed rail system would zip passengers from Anaheim to San Francisco in less than 3 hours. Experts concur that because of Orange County's early planning work, the Anaheim to Los Angeles segment of high-speed rail will be the first under construction. The line would take riders from Anaheim to Los Angeles in just 20 minutes, rather than the nearly 1-hour Metrolink train trip that my coworkers and I took to the news conference.


"We are one in California with one application and one commitment to high-speed rail," said Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, a board director of the Orange County Transportation Authority and chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. "That's why we want you to join with us in making a commitment and encouraging those representatives that you know in the
federal government so they know that we stand as one in the state of California for the support high-speed rail. We need your support in delivering it."

That help and support came in immediately via new social media tools such
as Twitter. During the news conference, twitterers in Orange County shared messages with their followers.

"High speed rail in CA -- now is the time to start," tweeted Ross Teasely of Dana Point.

Diana Truong, a UC Irvine sophomore, forwarded the support message to her followers on Twitter.

The Orange County Business Council tweeted: "Let the media know your support for high-speed rail."

"Fellow Californians: Please show your support for California High Speed Rail!" exclaimed Newport Beach resident Neal Schaffer, an author of a new book on LinkedIn, to his 40,000 followers on Twitter.

The Costa Mesa Conference and Visitors Bureau shared an audio interview from the news conference to its 1,300 followers. "Hear what Anaheim and OCTA have planned for high-speed rail connecting Orange County with LA and SF," the bureau tweeted.


Within just 24 hours, the news conference and online community rally generated 100 tweets displaying Twitter's jaw-dropping power to reach 89,000 people with more than 180,000 impressions.

To learn how to share your support for California high-speed rail, visit and or follow the latest on Twitter with the hashtag: #CAhsr or by following @CAhsr (the unofficial California high-speed rail blog but officially my favorite rail blog) and @CAhsra (the official Twitter account by the state's high-speed rail authority).

Or share your comments here. Do you think it's time to build high-speed rail? Or should other states get the $8 billion in federal stimulus funds?

Fast-Tracking the Future for High-Speed Rail

I'm taking a 6:15 a.m. Metrolink train from Laguna Niguel to downtown Los Angeles for the big news conference and public rally for high-speed rail.

OCTA Board Director and Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, Will Kempton and representatives from Orange County will join other Southern California leaders for the news conference at 9 a.m. today (Friday, Oct. 2) at Union Station in Los Angeles.

Today is a milestone day for high-speed rail in California because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will formally request $4.5 billion in federal stimulus funds to deliver the much-anticipated transit system.

Planning experts widely agree that because of early planning work by OCTA and the city of Anaheim, the first segment of the California high-speed rail line will likely be constructed between Anaheim and Los Angeles.

I'm excited that after a decade of talking and planning, we're on the verge of building a modern rail system for the 21 century that Californians deserve.