Southern California’s Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) will implement a series of changes to its public bus service beginning in June, a move aimed at adding 1.3 million riders over the next three years.
The OCTA Board of Directors unanimously approved recommendations for the 2016 Bus Service Plan at its meeting earlier this week. The plan, revised based on strong input from bus riders and the community, is expected to reverse a near-decade trend of declining ridership. Since 2008, OCTA has lost more than 20 million passengers, a reduction of 30%.
During the last two months, OCTA collected and reviewed extensive public feedback and conducted additional technical analysis of the plan. The approved plan modifies 14 of the 35 bus routes originally proposed for changes. OCTA operates 77 routes.
Among other adjustments, OCTA has approved plans to:
- Introduce a new Route 150, covering major portions of Routes 51 and 145 that are being eliminated. This new route will run from Costa Mesa to Santa Ana, providing direct service to Santa Ana College and other nearby schools.
- Add new “Bravo!” route and a second “Xpress” route.
- Retain Route 87 based on feedback from Saddleback Unified School District. Route 87 runs along Alicia Parkway, providing service from Rancho Santa Margarita to Laguna Niguel.
- Extend the hours of the Same-Day Taxi Program for ACCESS users and implement a pilot program to eliminate the $3.60 transfer cost between the same-day taxi and the regular ACCESS service.
The fundamental strategy of the plan is to shift service from low-performing routes to areas where there is higher demand. It’s an effort to better meet the community’s needs by matching limited funding with ridership demand. The plan aims to strike a balance between providing efficient and convenient service, while being as cost-effective as possible.
OCTA will begin implementing the recommendations in June following an extensive public-outreach campaign to ensure riders are aware of the upcoming changes.