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Orange County transit users to face end of Night-Owl Service in March

January 19, 2010

The OC Weekly recently published an article that profiles OCTA’s Night-Owl bus service and how it will no longer be a 24-hour service in March.

The article also details how OCTA has used funds that should have been used to operate bus service and used these funds for non-transit purposes.

The following are excerpts from Spencer Kornhaber’s article:

The big problem for the bus system in Orange County, (Jane) Reifer (of the Transit Advocates of Orange County) says, is that its reserves and revenue sources have been used as ATMs for other projects. After Orange County’s 1994 municipal bankruptcy, the county entered into an agreement to pay off debt by drawing from the funds that were meant to support bus service. A net $15 million has been taken out of the bus system every year since 1997 ($38 million was taken out in 1996). By 2013, when the debt agreement ends, the bus system will be $202 million poorer than it would have been had it not been used to help bail out the bankruptcy.

And in 2005, the board voted to use bus and rail money to help the city of Santa Ana widen Bristol Street. It had originally been believed that Bristol would be a major route for the county’s proposed CenterLine rail system—but that project was killed in 2005. Since then, $35 million that could have gone to buses countywide has been spent on one municipality’s road widening, with an additional $31 million to be spent next year. The Transit Advocates have lobbied the OCTA board to withdraw from the Bristol Street project and recover the dollars—which could, for example, pay for the soon-to-be-eliminated night-owl service hours 22 times over. The board has looked at the idea but seems reluctant to go through with it. It just isn’t right, they say, to abandon a commitment like that.

Please take the opportunity to read the rest of Mr. Kornhaber’s article here.

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