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Orange County

Bus Routes to Run in Wee Hours

Transportation: OCTA adds late-night service at the request of passengers. The move should ease the commutes of graveyard-shift workers.


Service on four Orange County bus routes is being extended to 24 hours this week to help graveyard-shift workers who commute in carpools, bicycles or on foot in a suburban region where round-the-clock mass transit offerings have been spotty.

Two routes that will add "night-owl service" between midnight and 4 a.m. are north-south routes that run from Brea to Newport Beach, La Habra to Costa Mesa. The others are east-west lines linking central Orange County with Long Beach.

The Orange County Transportation Authority is adding four buses that will travel each route once an hour during the early morning period. Regular bus service begins at 5 a.m.

The extended hours were added in response to passenger requests, OCTA spokesman Michael Litschi said. He estimated that as many as 200,000 additional riders will use the expanded service.

"We got a lot of comments from people on the graveyard shifts," Litschi said. "There are a fair number of people who will be served."

Reina Schmitz, political community organizer for Service Employees International Union Local 1877, said expanded service will mean many janitors won't have to walk home if they miss their rides.

"Many of them end up walking from Irvine to Santa Ana when they lose their ride or their ride calls in sick," Schmitz said. "Many people who give rides to workers feel obligated to work when they are sick because they know others depend on them for rides."

Osiris Nava, a night janitor who earns $6.75 an hour, takes a bus to work. When she works a five-hour shift, she can sometimes catch the 11 p.m. bus returning from Irvine to Santa Ana. But if the 30-year-old mother from Santa Ana works longer and misses that bus, she waits until 2 a.m., when friends who do drive finish their shifts. She helps them do their work so they can all drive home sooner.

The expanded service is not on the route nearest her home, but Nava said it will help her co-workers.

"I think this will be something that will get everyone to the bus stop," she said.

Ofelia Olvera works from 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. as a janitor in Irvine. She takes a bus to work, but often walks the six miles to her home in Santa Ana.

"It's not just me," Olvera said. "There are many of us, sometimes seven of us, who are walking and walking. It takes an hour and half. We get scared sometimes because it's silent. We're doing it for our children, so they can get ahead."

Olvera said the new service will cut her walk to about two miles.

The routes adding "night-owl" service are:

* Route 43 between La Habra and Costa Mesa, running along Harbor Boulevard with stops at Fullerton College, the Fullerton Transportation Center; the Anaheim Convention Center area, and Triangle Square in Costa Mesa;

* Route 57 between Brea and Newport Beach, running along State College Boulevard and Bristol Street, with stops at the Block in Orange, South Coast Plaza, the Newport Transportation Center and Newport Beach's Fashion Island;

* Route 60 between Santa Ana and Long Beach, running along Westminster Boulevard, with stops at Cal State Long Beach and the Long Beach Transit Mall;

* Route 50 between Orange and Long Beach, running along Katella Avenue, with stops at Disneyland and the Mall of Orange.

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