Politics

OC proposal to win back bus riders: Shorter waits, but fewer bus lines

An OCTA bus pulls into a Fullerton station in Orange County. Officials are hoping shorter waits will turn around slumping ridership.
An OCTA bus pulls into a Fullerton station in Orange County. Officials are hoping shorter waits will turn around slumping ridership.
Jonathan Riley via Flickr

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The Orange County Transportation Authority has released a proposal to turn around its falling bus ridership by increasing frequency for popular lines while reducing or cutting others altogether.

"This is just a draft," stressed agency spokesman Joel Zlotnik, who. He said transit officials will hold a series of community meetings and solicit online feedback before they finalize a plan.

The idea of increasing transit frequency to make it more appealing has been championed by transit planning experts like Jarrett Walker, author of the Human Transit blog and book.

"The major challenge we have with transit is that it’s not ready to go whenever you are," he said. "You have to wait for it unless it's operating frequently."

Walker said shorter waits and more predictable helps bus service approximate the convenience of a car.

In Los Angeles County, where ridership on public transit has declined by about 5 percent each of the last two years, Metro is considering a similar plan to increase frequency by cutting less-used lines.

The OCTA said its proposed changes would improve bus frequency for 92 percent of riders, reduce frequency for about 4 percent and cut service for 1-4 percent of riders.

"It’s always difficult to tell someone that their bus service is changing or their route may be cut," Zolnik said. "But really, the simple fact is that if we don't make some changes we'll be faced with having to make cuts across the board and be facing fare increases across the board."

Bus ridership is at a historic low and has dropped by 30 percent since 2008. The agency already cut service by about 20 percent between 2008 and 2010.

Orange County officials said they'll have a final plan by February and make the changes in June 2016. The proposal can be found at the OCTA website.

Community Meetings


Monday, December 7, 2015
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
OCTA Headquarters
Room 103/104
600 South Main Street 
Orange, CA 92863
Served by bus routes: 53, 56, 83

Tuesday, December 8, 2015 
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
San Juan Capistrano Community Center 
Community Hall
25925 Camino Del Avion
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Served by bus routes: 91

Wednesday, December 9, 2015
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Laguna Hills Community Center
Heritage Room
25555 Alicia Parkway
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
Served by bus routes 87, 91

Thursday, December 10, 2015
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Huntington Beach Central Library
Talbert Room
7111 Talbert Ave
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Served by bus routes: 25, 76

Public Hearing


Monday, January 25, 2015
9:00 a.m.
OCTA Headquarters
Room 154
600 South Main Street 
Orange, CA 92863
Served by bus routes: 53, 56, 83