Anaheim ARTIC transport hub: Early predictions were ambitious, new improvement plans underway

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- Traffic is an issue that affects nearly everyone here in Southern California. Orange County's solution is a huge transportation hub in Anaheim. It opened several years ago, but are people using it?

If you've driven on the 57 Freeway in Anaheim, there's a good chance you've seen this massive dome-shaped structure. At night, it's lit up with any combination of colors.

The official name of the structure is: Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center -- or ARTIC for short.

"It's got great views, the colors are fantastic, free parking," said Mark Lane, an Anaheim Hills resident.

The $200 million project was funded by the Orange County Transportation Authority, and it opened in 2014. The city of Anaheim operated the hub for trains, buses, shuttles and taxis. But early predictions were ambitious.

"Early optimistic expectations, you may have heard a number of 10,000 riders, those have not realized," said Mike Lyster, a spokesperson for the city of Anaheim.

Lyster said the city is proud of numbers like 4,200 to 5,500 riders on any given day.

While the bulk of the travelers are commuting, Lyster said many people use the center to get to Angel Stadium, the Honda Center or to connect to Disneyland or the Convention Center.

"I wanted to do it for the convenience of heading downtown into Los Angeles and not having to worry about traffic, and I thought it'd be a great way to travel and work at the same time," said Dan Lader, a resident of Orange.

One improvement travelers want to see is filling the empty storefronts. It has been challenging to keep them occupied.

"I see a lot of kids coming through here with their parents, and there's really nothing besides downstairs, but upstairs it would be nice for the family, or another Brewco," said Victoria Lane, an Anaheim Hills resident.

A few restaurants have come and gone, but the city is hopeful that a new partnership will bring change.

Recently, Anaheim Arena Management, the operator of the Honda Center for the Ducks, took over operation of the ARTIC.

"They're going to bring the synergy to this place where they're going to be able to leverage economies of scale, their expertise in restaurants, food and beverage, even entertainment," Lyster said.

With the new deal and others in the works, the city envisions the ARTIC to serve as an anchor for a kind of L.A. Live in Orange County.

Longtime rider John MacDonald is on board.

"It's made traveling by train a lot joyful. I get to come to the ARTIC, it's pretty cool, not a lot train stations have the same excitement about them," said MacDonald, a Fullerton resident.

This excitement is something the city wants to carry into the future.

"A facility like this was not built for today or even tomorrow, it is built for decades to come. And for the growth we expect in this area and throughout Anaheim," Lyster said.
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