Pledge to leave the car at home next week in Orange County, get a free bus ride

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An anniversary date in Orange County means free bus rides next week, but anyone wanting to catch a free ride must pledge to leave their cars at home.

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is celebrating its 40th year of bus service with free rides from June 18-22.

As part of the anniversary and “Dump the Pump” week, the agency wants people to leave their cars at home.

Anyone who makes an online pledge to use public transportation, carpool, bike or walk to work or work from home will get a free one day bus pass.

OCTA started service in 1972 with eight buses along three routes. Forty years later, it operates 550 buses along 77 routes throughout Orange County. The agency says more than 170,000 people ride its buses each day.

OCTA board members on Monday approved a $1 billion budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which will fund 23,000 hours of additional bus service on its more popular routes.

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