We at the Orange County Transit District (OCTD) found ourselves quick to agree with at least one point offered in Leslie M. Powell's piece of Dec. 24 ("Bus Stop: Are We All Biodegradable?"): Orange County is not Manhattan.
In that simple truth can be found at least one reason for differences in scheduled buses.
We don't have the need for a bus fleet the size of Manhattan's.
In densely populated cities such as New York, San Francisco or Chicago, demand there requires the scheduling of more buses on routes that are generally simple and straight. Were this otherwise, auto traffic in these crowded urban centers would be totally unmanageable.
Here in Orange County, however, geography forces us to act differently. In this urban and suburban sprawl, bus routes are necessarily long and often circuitous. Over these long routes, drivers must make allowances for cross traffic, road construction, detours, traffic snarls, train crossings and many other delaying factors.
Still, our on-time performance is 20%. Every working day buses run on 55 lines, stop at 6,500 bus stops from Long Beach to San Clemente, from Brea to Laguna Beach, and do it every 10 to 12 minutes on busy peak-period routes and 20 to 30 minutes on other routes. This is comparable to routes in many American cities.
And, even in this area of moderate population density, 75% of Orange County residents live within three blocks of an OCTD bus stop.
We're pleased with these facts. We know we can do better. So we continue to work at improving our service. We trust that Leslie Powell and the thousands of other county residents who ride the bus will continue to see the results of that work.