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OCTA to eliminate 3 bus routes as part of October service changes to reverse declining ridership

As part of a plan to combat bus ridership declines, the Orange County Transportation Authority board on Monday, July 24, approved moving forward with service changes in October and February.

The changes are part of the OC Bus 360 plan the board endorsed in 2015 to boost ridership by 1.3 million riders over the next three years, through initiatives that include shifting service from low-performing routes to areas with higher demand.

The board unanimously approved proposed changes to 43 routes. The changes would affect about 3 percent of the bus system countywide, according to an OCTA staff report. That’s a much smaller impact than the service reallocation implemented last year that affected 10 percent of the system.

“Recommendations that we have put together for both the October and February service changes will improve system productivity and reduce the number of peak buses required to provide our service,” said Gary Hewitt, OCTA’s manager of transit planning.

October service changes targeting a dozen routes are already set. Three routes will be discontinued – 411 from Anaheim Canyon Metrolink Station to Canyon Corporate Center, 430 from Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center to Anaheim Resort area, and 490 from Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo Metrolink Station to Aliso Viejo.

In addition, Route 37 from La Habra to Fountain Valley will undergo “mixed changes” — more than one modification to the route — and routes 1, 35, 55, 71, 79, 85, 129 and 143 will see “minor” trip eliminations, according to the OCTA staff report.

Board members on Monday directed staff to conduct public outreach, with three community meetings to discuss the February proposals encompassing 31 routes. Several are considered “major service changes” under OCTA’s policy and require a public hearing – scheduled for Sept. 25 – prior to board approval, according to the staff report.

Proposed weekday route changes include increasing frequency on routes 29, 50, 53, 56, 60, 89, 90 and 91; reducing frequency on routes 54, 57, 66, 178, 211, 463 and 543; and mixed changes on Route 24 from Buena Park to Orange.

Service is slated to be discontinued on routes 212 from Irvine to San Juan Capistrano Express, 216 from San Juan Capistrano to Costa Mesa Express, and 454 from Orange Transportation Center to Garden Grove. Minor trip eliminations are planned on routes 30, 46, 64, 86, 721 and 794.

Weekend route changes on the table include increasing frequency on routes 46, 53, 54, 59, 60 and 91 on Saturdays only; reducing frequency on routes 64, 70 and 543; and mixed changes on routes 29, 43 and 50. Other recommendations include discontinuing Route 177 from Foothill Ranch to Laguna Hills, and minor trip eliminations on routes 72, 89, 90 and 153.

OCTA board members on Monday excluded from the October plan any changes to Route 57 from Brea to Newport Beach, and will seek input from the Newport Beach City Council on service reductions proposed to the Newport Transportation Center and the adjacent area.

The exclusion stemmed from several board members’ concerns over the root of OCTA staff’s recommendation to eliminate Route 57 to the Newport Transportation Center between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

In a letter sent to OCTA, Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff requested the cutback in hours to the transportation center, saying it “is located in a remote and isolated business district with no resource for anyone dropped off there that may not have access to housing.”

OCTA board member Barbara Delgleize said she was concerned because “it’s such a resort-type area where it ends, and I would imagine there would be a lot of service workers impacted by the change.”

No timeline has been set for when changes that were proposed to Route 57 for October might be reconsidered.

Source: The Orange County Register

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