The Calif.-based Orange County Transportation Authority’s (OCTA) board of directors approved more than $26.7 million to help cities in the area provide community-based transit circulators to better serve their specific public transit needs.

The money is being provided through Measure M, the county’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements. When Measure M was renewed by voters in 2006, it included a funding program for cities to develop and implement shuttles and bus trolleys.

The shuttles and trolleys, smaller than a typical OCTA bus, are intended to connect riders to major civic, employment and shopping destinations, as well as major transportation centers, to meet local needs that would complement OCTA bus service.

The funding also will help support seasonal and special event services, pay for associated bus-stop improvements and maintenance facilities and go toward the purchase or lease of buses/trolleys for each program.

In all, OCTA received 17 applications from 14 different cities and the county. OCTA staff will continue to work with the cities and county to draft cooperative agreements for the projects. Some service is expected to be implemented by October.

The funding is for a seven-year period. Each city and the county will be required to provide at least a 10% funding match and must meet minimum ridership targets — monitored quarterly — to continue receiving funding.

In addition to fulfilling the Measure M promise to improve transit, these projects fit into OC Bus 360°, OCTA’s ongoing effort to create better and more efficient bus service countywide.

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