Scenes From the Bus

Although Southern California is known for its car culture, a bus is still the primary mode of transportation for many in Orange County, especially low-income residents.

Voice of OC intern Mariah Castaneda spent the last few weeks riding Orange County Transportation Authority buses and interacted with several residents for whom riding the bus is a big part of their daily existence.

Here are slices from their lives:

Teresa Ballmaceda

Onthebus#5

The incoming Cal-State Channel Islands freshman is currently taking summer school classes at Cal-State Fullerton. A native of Santa Ana, Ballmaceda’s commute is two hours on the 57 route. While she waits for her lengthy bus ride to end, Balllmaceda likes to listen to oldies on her cell phone. She dreams of being a professional makeup artist someday.

Jacob Garcia

onthebus#2

Garcia’s round-trip commute from his home in Irvine to his job in Anaheim takes about 80 minutes. After working roughly 42 hours a week, Garcia also manages to study art at Irvine Valley College. He dreams of becoming a draftsman someday.

Jennifer Mullen

onthebus#1

If nothing else, Mullen gets to eavesdrop on some interesting conversations on her frequent bus trips.

“I was sitting for a half hour and this woman was talking to a person who did not exist,” Mullen said, recounting a recent trip. “She said he couldn’t harm her because Jesus was on her side… Kinda like she was trying to exorcise herself.”

The OC native, who works as a data entry clerk at UPS, rides the bus regularly to attend entertainment events. On this particular day, she’s headed to a Depeche Mode cover band playing at the OC Fair.

Jose Macieles

Onthebus#4

Macieles, a first-year student at Santa Ana College, works every day at UPS sorting heavy boxes. He spends roughly 14 hours a week on the bus, leaving home an hour early everyday to make sure he makes his commute.

“If I miss either bus, I’m screwed.”

Marissa Cevallos (left) and Haley Frias

Onthebus#3

The mother and daughter duo ride the bus to get to work and school. Cevallos, a housekeeper, rides intermittently from 6 a.m to 12 p.m. After work, she picks up her daughter from school and they ride home together.

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  • Jane Rands

    These stories show that more frequent and dependable bus service would help people who are hard working, responsible, and educated. Why aren’t their needs better supported by OCTA through expanded and improved service?

    Instead OCTA spends an overwhelmingly larger portion of our transit funds on car drivers’ needs, ostensibly, for the people who are better off. At least Measure M2 funds collected as a sales tax ought to have a larger portion earmarked for public transit, especially since this regressive tax more greatly impacts those with less means.

    If bus service was improved in the OC, it would be a viable option for people currently driving cars. It could also translate into fewer neighborhoods dismantled by ever expanding roads and freeways, fewer cars on the road, and less noxious emissions that impact everyone’s health and quality of life.

    What is it going to take to make transit users a priority for the OCTA?