Just when it appeared there was some common sense coming out of the Irvine City Council with its approving a Great Park audit, downsizing of its Board and dumping its PR firms, it’s placed the contract extension of the utterly worthless iShuttle service on Tuesday’s council meeting agenda. Simply put, this $6.5 million waste of tax money is useless, needs to be cancelled and have its vehicles sold off rather than continue to insult the rest of Orange County with such nonsense.
iShuttle was a bad idea for a NON-OCTA bus service for the exclusive use of Irvine residents and Spectrum workers. A lot of better-used State and Measure M funds were found to design and build it, mostly because the money was too easily had by those with grandiose plans of empire. Councilwoman Beth Krom and a conniving six-figure consultant named Cindy Krebs cooked up the idea using tax money that was sloshing around the OCTA to create a way to connect the Irvine Metrolink station to the Spectrum and the unbuilt Great Park. Krebs later left for reasons unknown and ended up, at least for a while, trying to sell even more useless streetcars to the City of Santa Ana. She was also a good friend of Marty Bryant, an Agran pal, former embezzler and cocaine addict who was CEO of the Great Park at the time. Krebs also designed the stillborn 2007 five-mile, $280 million mixed-mode (streetcars and buses) Irvine transit plan.
The original idea for the shuttle to was ferry the hordes of folks who were thought coming to/from the Great Park and its surrounding residential developments to the Irvine Metrolink Station and the business end of the Spectrum. Of course, the only 15% of the Park was ever built, and to our knowledge, no homes are yet constructed. No one really knows what developer Five Point‘s intentions are if the Park isn’t completed. After iShuttle began service, it was justifiedly ridiculed for the lack of ridership and its waste of public money. Larry Agran defended the boondoggle which then spoke volumes to its real value.
More concerning to those of us who don’t live or work in Irvine and don’t bleed beige is that Irvine’s already minimal public transportation needs could have easily been served by extensions of just a few existing OCTA bus lines WITHOUT acquiring new vehicles or building a brand new transit system. The real reason for building this mess was Krom’s and Kreb’s lack of interest in the OCTA bus system as it was also carrying the unwashed and ethnic from grimy places like Santa Ana (never mind that’s how the household help might commute to Irvine). Krebs even said so to the OCTA Board when she complained of the dirty buses her elite users would have to ride (at the time, the OCTA bus system was also winning national awards for its effectiveness).
The Irvine City Council made some good moves earlier this month — Agran and Krom are under control for now (while they search for faux Republican council candidates for 2014) and can’t fight for it, so allowing this useless system that’s reported to cost as much as $19/ride (see below) to continue in service is lunacy. Irvine needs to justify it — clearly and honestly explain its value using its operating costs, costs per ride and usage statistics to its citizens. Put another way, the shuttle’s value needs to be explained and resold to every taxpayer — not just the Irviners — since, as Councilman Jeff Lalloway defends it, everyone in the County and State is paying for this turkey. A reasonable alternative strategy would be to ask the OCTA for the costs and logistics of replacing the iShuttle with the regular bus service that already serves the rest of Irvine AND the rest of Orange County.
Here’s a set of links back to the Register’s good coverage of this abomination a few years ago:
Irvine’s made some reasonable progress this month in righting some really terrible and extremely costly strategies that have been a poke in the eye to everyone else in Orange County. Putting the iShuttle to death would be another good move.