The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) was recently awarded $1.2 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve transit operations throughout Orange County.
OCTA plans to use the funds to replace 17 buses in the ACCESS paratransit service, in order to improve service efficiency and lower operating costs by allowing more passengers to be transported per trip.
The grant awarded is part of the Dept. of Transportation’s Bus Livability and State of Good Repair program, which provided a total of $787 million to agencies nationwide to help modernize and improve bus and transit facilities.
“OCTA’s ACCESS service provides more than 1 million annual trips and I want to thank the Department of Transportation for recognizing the importance of replacing these buses for our customers who rely upon the service,” said OCTA chairman and Laguna Niguel Mayor Paul Glaab. “These federal funds will ensure we continue to provide safe and reliable bus service for Orange County residents.”
The ACCESS buses are 24 feet long and can carry up to five wheelchair passengers at a time, compared to the current buses, which can only accommodate two wheelchair passengers.
OCTA has also introduced a new indoor, simulated transit facility used to determine passenger eligibility for paratransit services. Being one of four transit simulators nationwide, OCTA’s facility includes a 40-foot OCTA bus, sidewalks, wheelchair-accessible curbs, crosswalk and operating traffic signals fully replicating a bus stop.
Evaluators can now test a passenger’s ability to navigate different surfaces, board a bus and pay their fare, all within a safe and controlled environment.
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