OCTA Planning to Raise Bus Fare, Further Showing What A Joke It's Always Been and Will Be

Categories: Wax On, Wax Off
There has been many ridiculous, laughable awards given out in Orange County or to Orange County residents over the years, but none was more undeserved than when some agency called the Orange County Transportation Authority the nation's best mass-transit system in 2005. This came on the heels of OCTA scrapping laughable plans for light-rail, but that didn't stop OCTA from plastering that award on its buses on massive stickers that covered windows for years afterward.

Those displays are long-gone, and rightfully so. In the years since the award, OCTA has scrapped lines, has scrapped schedules it used to post at every bus stop, and just become a nightmare to use. And it's only going to get worse with the recent announcement that they plan to hike fares.

See also:

Is OCTA Sacrificing Transit Service for Executive Pay?
Gap Ads Go Gay on OCTA Buses: What Exactly Are They Selling Anyway?
OCTA Thanks Congress for Transportation Bill; Some Language Friendly to Finishing Toll Road

The plans call for a one-way ticket to cost $2 instead of the current $1.50, for a day pass to cost $5 instead of the current $4, and general increases on monthly passes and those for college students and senior citizens. They claim dwindling ridership and increased costs for the hike and promise community forums where everyone can yell at them.

Of course, 90 percent of Orange County doesn't give a shit, libertarians will say the hikes don't go high enough because they're still too heavily subsidized, and the Left is going to cry classism and weep and moan that $5 over the span of a week turns into $20 a month, which will bankrupt the users and cause even more of a decline in ridership, which means OCTA will raise fares again, which means less...we can debate this forever. But let's all join hands and proclaim OCTA a worthless government arm--and in this county where managers sexually harass women at will, that's quite an accomplishment!

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California is so car oriented...what would be your alternative after scrapping the current bus system?


The primary reason OCTA is looking at raising fares is because the state Transportation Development Act – which provides about half of the $267 million bus operations budget – mandates passengers pay a minimum of 20 cents for every dollar spent on providing bus service. If OCTA falls below that 20 percent “farebox recovery” – expected to happen next year if fares are not increased – the agency is in jeopardy of losing that funding, which would threaten the entire system.


The last time bus fares were raised was in 2009 and that was because of the same issue. No one – passengers, OCTA staff or the board – wants to see prices get higher in what we know is still a tough economy. Given the options, what we heard from passengers was that a fare increase was preferable to cutting service.


And you’re right, the recession hit OCTA hard, just like every other public agency, private business and millions of people. OCTA was forced to cut 20 percent of service over three years because of state funding cuts, plummeting sales tax and lagging ridership due to high unemployment. OCTA can only provide the service for which we have funding. When tax dollars went south – and they did in a big way – the unfortunate reality is that we had to also shrink the bus service.


There is a little bit of good news, about 23,000 bus service hours will be added back into the system this fiscal year. Half of that will be on the streets next month to boost some of our busiest lines, including Route 29 on Beach Boulevard and Route 47 on Anaheim Boulevard and Fairview.


I hope this helps shed a little more light on why OCTA is looking at raising fares.


Joel Zlotnik, OCTA 



Do you think it's OK that Orange County is so overwhelmingly car-oriented? If not, what would you propose to do about it?

20ftjesus topcommenter

Ever since the Great Recession began, I've noticed more people at the bus stops around OC.  Guess I'm surprised to read that ridership is down. 


 @jzlotnik Joel, I'm sure you have heard this all before, but let me say it again.


I used to take the bus to work. It was the #57 and #46 buses, both on very busy lines (Ball Rd. and State College Blvd., for the benefit of those who haven't memorized the Bus Book). Total commute distance: 4 1/2 miles. Total time to drive those 4 1/2 miles: about 10 minutes (lots of lights on State College). Total time to take the bus: 40 minutes.


Then you slashed service and, worse, you removed any semblance of coordination between bus lines. I could time it so I got a #57 bus as I arrived at the stop, and I'd still have to wait up to half an hour for the next #46 bus. Total time to get home: over an hour.


So then I thought I'd just bike to the #57 stop and skip the shorter distance on the #46 bus... except that it's the middle of the line so of course there are never any spaces free on the bike rack, so I get to wait for the next bus, which may be in ten minutes, or it may be three in a row every half an hour.


So I just ride my bike instead. I actually ride further—I go out to the Santa Ana River so I'm not fencing with 7 lanes of traffic on State College—and it still only takes 20 minutes.


Then I decided one time I'd use the bus to go pick up my daughter at her school in El Modena. Well, getting there was actually pretty slick, though it required changing buses from a Chapman Ave. #56 bus to a Chapman Ave. #54 bus and a long walk, but hey, no problem... and then there was getting home... waiting for the #71 bus and then watching the #46 pull out of the Village at Orange as we ran for it. It took an unbelievably long time; I could literally have walked home faster.


You want people to use the bus, increase the service and figure out how to time the buses or at least give us some idea of when a bus might arrive (that dial-the-next-bus system has a huge ratio of error). The time cost of waiting for a connection kills any desire I have, no matter how much I prefer public transport, to take an OCTA bus at any price.


 @landorf1 This shit doesn't happen in a vacuum. OCTA is not some totalitarian regime. Measure M has a lot to do with what they do and voters have embraced the highway-heavy sales tax plan twice. 


And don't worry about those women that were harassed. They support cutting the bus service too! 


 @Mitchell_Young  @jzlotnik Oh, Mitch, you're such a cahd.


The problem is twofold: first they cut service hours, which means that a bus that came every 15 minutes might come every half an hour or even just once an hour (at the nadir).


The other problem is that someone was apparently drinking when they decided to redesign the routes, with the result that some #57 buses drop you off at the Brea Mall (popular destination that's far away!) and some end at State College and Via Burton, which is a) only convenient if you're planning on eating at Denny's or hitchhiking on the 91, and b) isn't connected to any other bus routes, so you get to hike up to Orangethorpe to find another bus—God forbid the bus just go 800 feet further!


Same story with the #46 bus. I used to take it to Long Beach where there was a timed transfer with LBT to get to Long Beach Airport—saves a lot of money over taking a taxi to the airport. Now almost all those buses stop at Knott and Orange. No endpoint transfer, no way to get into Long Beach.


There are lots of weird things like this; the last redesign was totally confusing, like a hub-and-spoke system where there are relatively few buses between the hubs.


 @Mitchell_Young  @jzlotnik Oh, and let's try to avoid a work stoppage this time, OK? I can't tell you how many people I drove to Fullerton so I could catch my train and they could get on the one bus that was actually running.


 @GustavoArellano  Thanks, Gustavo and I've always been a fan of yours. Having been around governments in Orange County for the last 15 years, I think it's pretty unfair to proclaim OCTA worthless ... there are more than a thousand men and women driving our buses every day, mechanics and maintenance folks keeping them running and a few hundred on the admin staff who are doing our best to keep people moving around this county during the worst economy in generations. We may not be perfect but we sure aren't worthless ... I'll send your comment upstairs. 

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