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O.C. bus fares going up 25% in first hike in 3 years

Reflected in mirror, passengers crowd aboard Santa Ana-bound OCTA bus. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times

This post has been corrected. See note at bottom for details.

Orange County transportation officials are raising bus fares in Orange County by about 25% in what they say is an effort to confront rising operational costs.

The Orange County Transportation Authority approved the increases Monday to protect the state funds that make up about half of the agency's $267-million bus operations budget. The California Transportation Development Act requires that a minimum of 20% of the bus operations budget be covered by passengers, Joel Zlotnik, an authority spokesman, said in a statement.

The increases are set to go into effect Feb. 10. Cash fares will jump to $2 from $1.50; day passes will go to $5 from $4; and monthly passes will increase to $69 from $55.

The authority said it will offer some discounts to offset the impact of the increase, including a 10% discount on pre-purchased day passes and a pre-purchased package of five rides for $9, also a 10% discount.

The OCTA will also offer discounts to social service and nonprofit agencies that purchase passes in bulk.

Bus fares have not been increased since January 2009.

An increase in sales tax revenue in 2011 helped deflect a bump in fares last year. But since 2009, officials said, the cost of bus service has jumped from $98 per service hour to $108. 

"It is never a good time for a fare increase. Every time you increase the fare, you are hurting someone and I don't want to discount that because it is a difficult decision," Will Kempton, OCTA's chief executive, said in a statement.

"We postponed a consideration of a fare increase two years ago because we were in the throes of a recession, but we are looking for ways to do things more efficiently that will provide transit services more cost-effectively to Orange County residents."

[For the Record 11/27/2012 5:55 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that, in order for the OCTA to receive state funding, a minimum of 20% of the fares must be covered by passengers.]

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-- Rick Rojas

Photo: Reflected in mirror, passengers crowd aboard a Santa Ana-bound OCTA bus. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times

 
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