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Buses Set Rider Record; OCTA Will Buy 10 More

April 16, 1998|DAVID HALDANE

Orange County buses carried more passengers last year than ever before, prompting transportation planners this week to approve the purchase of 10 more buses for $4.1 million.

"It's a real positive thing," said John Standiford, a spokesman for the Orange County Transportation Authority, "but it does add new challenges too. Right now it's a matter of having enough drivers and vehicles to make sure that we're meeting the demand."

According to OCTA, 50.2 million passengers rode Orange County buses in 1997, a 10% increase from the year before. Earlier figures released in January had indicated a 9.66% jump in ridership for the first nine months of the year, the largest increase in the United States. What the new figures show, Standiford said, is that "the first nine months weren't a fluke. The growth has continued. The entire year of 1997 was a big growth year for buses."

OCTA officials attributed the increase to a combination of factors including economic and demographic changes, the reorganization of key routes, target marketing and a recent expansion of service.

Officials plan to respond to the increase by purchasing the 10 buses and adding enough drivers to operate them along the county's busiest routes, Standiford said. Because the agency is buying the buses from another bus company, the vehicles will be available next year at a savings of about $5,000 apiece, he said.

"We are essentially taking over somebody else's deal and getting them a little cheaper," he said. "From a cost perspective, that's important."

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