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Updated Orange County bus plan proposed after public outcry over cuts

An Orange County Transportation Authority bus pulls into a Fullerton station. Officials are hoping a new plan for bus service will turn around slumping ridership.
An Orange County Transportation Authority bus pulls into a Fullerton station. Officials are hoping a new plan for bus service will turn around slumping ridership.
Jonathan Riley via Flickr

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In an effort to reverse declining bus ridership, Southern California transit agencies are trying to revamp their service, hoping higher frequency will attract more riders.

Orange County has seen among the biggest drops in ridership within the region, recording about a 30 percent decrease since 2008.

Last November, the county transit agency proposed a bus service plan intended to shift resources to busier lines, making service more frequent by cutting less-used lines.

"If you don't change anything then nothing's going to change," said Orange County Transportation Authority CEO Darrell Johnson.

Houston had successfully approved a similar approach; as of last November, ridership jumped by 11 percent over the previous year.

Orange County's transit authority held a series of public meetings from November to January. About 1,300 people offered comment, including many students, elderly and people with disabilities who strongly objected to the cuts on lines they said were their only means of getting around.

In response to the public outcry, officials have proposed a new plan that restores service to 14 lines that would have been cut. But to keep the budget on track, the plan also scales back some of the increases in service proposed for other lines.

Los Angeles is in the midst of considering a similar plan to adjust bus service. A series of public hearings concluded last week and the proposal will go before the Los Angeles Metro board in April.