OCTA Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Orange County Bus Service – New Santa Ana

ORANGE – The Orange County Transportation Authority commemorated 50 years of public bus service in Orange County on Monday with an event attended by former board members and staff, including the first general manager of the bus system.

The rally at OCTA Headquarters in Orange included a vintage 1972 bus with the original OCTD logo – when buses ran for the Orange County Transit District.

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Pete Fielding, the first general manager of the OCTD, was on hand to represent that era, when Richard Nixon was president and the same year Atari introduced Pong as the first commercial video game.

Parked next to the half-century-old diesel bus was a modern, zero-emission OCTA bus powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, with power steering and air conditioning – all technological advances made in the past 50 years.

After the event, additional small commemorations were held with employees at each of OCTA’s bus bases so that all employees could mark the special occasion.

“Transit service has come a long way from the early days of a handful of buses, becoming a thriving and vital transit system that helps tens of thousands of residents, workers and visitors get to where they need to be every day,” said OCTA President Mark A. Murphy, also Mayor of Orange. “This wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of hundreds of coach operators, maintenance workers and operations personnel who keep the county moving safely.”

OCTA began the 50th anniversary commemoration earlier this month by offering free bus rides all day on September 1. On that day, ridership reached approximately 106,000 boardings, a record for the year.

OCTA continues to increase its bus ridership, which has fallen sharply during the pandemic, from around 120,000 daily boardings to 33,000 at the height of the pandemic.

With efforts to bring back existing bus riders and innovative efforts to attract new riders, the daily average rebounded to around 100,000 boardings on an average weekday.

Bus service in Orange County began in the fall of 1972 when the Orange County Transit District began operating five leased buses on just three routes. These routes in North County served approximately 25,000 boardings in the first month. The price to take the bus at the time: 25 cents.

Today, OCTA has over 500 buses serving passengers throughout Orange County. For more information, visit www.octa.net/50.

About OCTA: The Orange County Transportation Authority is the county’s transportation planning commission, responsible for funding and implementing transit and capital projects for a balanced and sustainable transportation system which reflects the diverse travel needs of the county’s 34 cities and 3.2 million residents. With a mission to keep Orange County moving, this includes freeways and expressways, bus and rail transit, ridesharing, commuter rail, and active transportation. To sign up for more OCTA news, visit octa.net/GetConnected.