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Getting There

September 21, 1986|RICK VANDERKNYFF

For people planning to attend events at the Orange County Performing Arts Center who would rather leave the driving to somebody else, getting to the hall is not an easy proposition.

Eight Orange County Transit District bus routes have stops within walking distance of the center, and with connecting lines, most areas of Orange County have acceptable access to the center. But the buses don't run late enough to serve audiences at evening performances. Thus, low-cost public transportation is not an option, except for people holding tickets to matinee performances.

At present, no plans exist to add routes or extend the hours on existing routes. "We aren't planning anything special," says Claudia Keith, OCTD public information officer. "If we see that there's a strong demand, then of course we'd re-evaluate."

Routes currently serving the area around the center (most buses stop at nearby South Coast Plaza) are 45 / 45A (Orange to Newport Beach); 53 / 53A (Orange to Balboa); 55 / 55A (Orange to Costa Mesa); 57 (Santa Ana to Laguna Hills); 71A (Orange to Costa Mesa); 74 (Irvine to Huntington Beach); 78 (Laguna Hills to Huntington Beach), and 80 (Santa Ana to Huntington Beach). Fares are 75 cents (with special rates for seniors and handicapped people), and transfers are free. Schedule information can be obtained by telephoning (714) 636-RIDE.

Neighborhood Dial-A-Ride, the OCTD van service that offers front-door service for $1.25, operates from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Information telephone numbers are listed by community (see Orange County Transit District) in the telephone directory.

Private transportation companies offer more flexible hours but at a higher cost. Taxi service to the center is provided by several companies in Orange County. Representative one-way fares are: $23 from Laguna Hills; $25 from Mission Viejo; $13 from Newport Beach's Fashion Island area; $15 from Seal Beach; $15 from Anaheim; $25 from Buena Park; $35 from Fullerton and $11 from Orange. (Figures were provided by Orange Coast Yellow Cab in Fountain Valley and Yellow Cab Co. of Anaheim.)

Moving up the luxury ladder, limousine-service operators are looking for a business boost from status-conscious arts lovers in hopes of making a splashy entrance.

"We are, of course, looking forward to it," says Bill Johnson, co-owner and chief executive officer of Cameo Limousines in Garden Grove, referring to the center's opening. "There's no question that it's going to affect business." Johnson reported in late July that his company already had received several bookings for opening night at the center.

Eunice Michalsky, president of the 60-member Southern California Limousine Operators Assn., echoes Johnson's enthusiasm. "I hope this whole thing will naturally bring in the type of clientele that would rent a limousine," Michalsky says.

A random sample of Orange County operators shows that hiring a limousine costs between $30 and $60 per hour, depending on the vehicle, the season and the time of the week (summer rates tend to be lowest; weekends are generally more expensive than weekdays). Most limousine services have a minimum rental of three to five hours.

Add to this a required driver gratuity of 15% or 20%. Other variables to consider include travel time (the time it takes the driver to get to your door when picking you up, and back to the office after dropping you off), for which some companies charge and others do not; and mileage, for which some firms charge an extra fee.

The costs add up quickly. For a five-hour hire (allowing for driving time, dinner and a 2 1/2-hour performance) at $35 per hour, with a 15% gratuity, the base fee is $201.25. Special rates and package deals for center events may eventually be offered, lessening the sting.

Michalsky says that there are about 250 limousine services in Orange County but guessed that fewer than 100 are operating legally. Limousine operators in California must be licensed by the state Public Utilities Commission and carry $750,000 in liability insurance.

Operators are required by law to include their PUC license number in all advertising but, Michalsky says, the requirement is often ignored. Limousine-service shoppers can call the PUC office in Santa Ana to check on an operator's legal status. Also, the Orange County Better Business Bureau recommends getting all promises in writing, and a careful reading of all contracts.

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