Calif.’s Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) approved a budget of approximately $1.65 billion for the upcoming fiscal year — a balanced budget that keeps essential transportation improvements moving forward while responsibly planning for the future.
The OCTA board approved the balanced budget, which makes significant investments in public transit and improvements to Orange County’s freeways and streets to keep Orange County moving safely and efficiently.
The budget utilizes new sources of funding received within the last year from the federal government as well as local funds to help restore much of the bus and rail service cut during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, based on demand.
Overall, the fiscal year 2022-23 budget represents approximately a $383 million — or 30% — increase over the previous year’s budget. This follows two previous years of budget reductions, including the FY 2021-22 budget that represented an 18% decrease over the previous year.
The budget, which takes effect on July 1, reflects higher-than-anticipated sales-tax revenue but also accounts for the possibility of additional service demands and the potential for an economic downturn.
The FY 2022-23 budget encompasses all services, projects and programs that are administered by OCTA. The budget reflects a significant investment in capital projects.
Anticipated revenues in the budget are more than $1.2 billion, an increase from the $971 million budgeted last year. Use of prior year savings are also up, at about $416 million, an increase from $296 million last fiscal year.
Measure M, also known as OC Go, will continue to fund improvements to freeways and streets throughout Orange County, along with multiple transit and environmental programs. Included in the budget is $385 million to help fund freeway improvements and nearly $59 million for transit, including $38 million for the ongoing construction of OC Streetcar, the county’s first modern electric streetcar in Santa Ana and Garden Grove.
The budget will also continue to support OCTA’s ongoing emphasis on environmental programs and a move toward zero-emission vehicles, which includes $11.8 million for two Measure M programs that offset the environmental impacts of continuing to improve Orange County freeways and $3 million for 10 all-electric paratransit buses.
OC Bus service is scheduled to return to pre-pandemic levels with up to 1.6 million service hours, and the budget includes funding to handle an expected increase in OC ACCESS paratransit service. Actual OC Bus service levels will be added back as demand increases.
OCTA will also contribute approximately $46 million to the Southern California Regional Rail Authority for Metrolink, which plans to restore commuter train service to pre-pandemic levels. More than half of that funding to Metrolink from Orange County, nearly $27 million, will come from supplemental federal funding.