By Andrea Swayne
Year-end news from the Orange County Transportation Authority runs the gamut from rising bus fares, to a new CEO to the addition of a new system-wide patrol by bomb-sniffing dogs.
Following two months of public meetings and outreach, the OCTA Board of Directors has approved an increase in standard bus fare, from $1.50 to $2.
Along with the fare increase, OCTA plans to add an additional 9,000 revenue vehicle hours to address issues with overcrowding and help ensure on-time performance along some of the busiest routes.
Bulk ticket discounts, changes in rate structures for nonprofit agencies and a collaboration with the county’s Social Service Agency to look at ways to address the needs of low-income riders, who will be hardest hit by the new fares, are also in the works.
Current CEO Will Kempton who announced his resignation in November. In the coming year the OCTA board will be choosing his successor.
According to OCTA spokesperson Laura Scheper, the board’s November 26 special meeting appointment of Deputy CEO Darrell Johnson to the post may have been in violation of the Brown Act. Transportation Authority council advised the board to take up the issue of a successor at a regular board meeting, which will likely take place at the beginning of the year with the inclusion of the OCTA’s new board members.
For the new K-9 patrol, handlers are paired with dogs that have completed a 10-week explosives detection training by the Transportation Security Administration at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Teams are being funded for the first five years through the help of a $600,000 federal grant toward the county’s homeland security efforts.
The new bus fare rates will become effective in February 2013.
Kempton’s resignation is also effective in February.
The new K-9 patrol has already begun making rounds throughout the county—sweeping transit centers and Metrolink stations and responding to suspicious packages.
See www.octa.net for more information.