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O.C. Buses Free to Staff, Students of 2 Universities

August 26, 2003|Dan Weikel | Times Staff Writer

Orange County public university students, faculty and staff will be able to ride transit buses for free under a new fare policy adopted Monday designed to relieve traffic congestion and a growing shortage of parking on college campuses.

The Orange County Transportation Authority plans to implement the "U-Pass" program in September at Cal State Fullerton and in January at UC Irvine. Both schools have experienced increasing enrollments and traffic problems.

The OCTA board of directors unanimously approved the program. It replaces the current fare system in which students, faculty and staff pay $10 at campus outlets for a 30-day bus pass that sells for $25 if bought directly from OCTA.

U-Pass will allow students, faculty and staff to swipe their university identification cards through fare boxes the same way a bus pass is used.

OCTA officials say the fare will be billed automatically to the appropriate university, which will receive a 40% discount from the $1 one-way fare.

Currently, an average of 300 students and 50 faculty and staff at UCI purchase 30-day bus passes each month. About 500 students and 100 faculty and staff buy them at Cal State Fullerton.

The authority expects that the U-Pass could triple the number of bus boardings from the two universities.

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