OCTA Giving Away Free Bus Passes

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The Orange County Transportation Authority is celebrating its 40th anniversary this week by promoting public transit as a way for members of the public to save money.

OCTA’s Dump the Pump program is offering a free one-day bus pass worth $4 to anyone who fills out their online commuter questionnaire and pledges to take public transportation, ride a bicycle, carpool, telecommute or walk to work or school one day this week.

The goal is to encourage drivers to cut back on street and freeway miles and use alternative transportation more often.

The normal cost for a one-way bus trip is $1.50, and an all-day bus pass costs $4. Those who want to travel within Orange County by bus and train can buy a MetroLink all-day combination pass for $7. Train trips outside Orange County aren’t included in the special rate.

OCTA began bus service in 1972 using eight buses on three routes, according to its announcement. Today, it runs 550 buses along 77 routes but had to reduce bus service in recent years because of budget cuts.

That prompted complaints of long delays between buses and not enough route options. Even so, a majority of those who ride the bus said they were happy with the service because buses are clean and safe.

However, next year OCTA plans to add 23,000 hours of service on high-ridership routes and increase bus fares by 25 percent.

— TRACY WOOD

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