On April 22, people around the world will join together to raise environmental awareness as part of Earth Day, an annual time of recognition that began in 1970 to protest smog, pesticides, and other pollutants.
At OCTA, sustainability and care for the Orange County environment is part of everything we do. One of OCTA’s primary goals is to reduce traffic congestion and pollution by offering transportation options that reduce dependence on cars, such as buses, trains, vanpools, biking and walking.
When it comes to reducing harmful bus emissions, OCTA leads the pack. In 2000, California established emission requirements for diesel particulate matter (PM) and oxides of nitrogen emissions (NOx) from urban buses and transit fleet vehicles. Transit agencies were required to select either the diesel path or the alternative-fuel path. OCTA selected the cleaner alternative fuel path and has exceeded all state emission requirements for an urban bus fleet as well as for transit fleet vehicles. Compared to 2002 baseline emissions, OCTA reduced its PM emissions by 97 percent and NOX emissions by 99 percent.
Next, in advance of any regulation, OCTA embarked on a successful 2.5-year demonstration of a zero-emission bus powered by hydrogen. Based on the positive experience of this demonstration program, OCTA secured state and local funding to expand its zero emission sub-fleet by adding 10 zero emission hydrogen-powered buses. Some of those buses are currently in revenue service and the remainder are soon to arrive to Orange County.
OCTA also protects the environment through a program funded by OC Go (also known as Measure M), Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements. The Freeway Environmental Mitigation Program allocates funds to acquire land and fund habitat restoration projects in exchange for streamlined environmental approvals for all OC Go freeway improvement projects. Acquired properties were purchased and permanently preserved as open space. Funded restoration projects restore preserved open space lands to their native habitat and include the removal of invasive plant species.
To date, OCTA has acquired more than 1300 acres in Brea, Laguna Beach, Silverado Canyon, and Trabuco Canyon. A total of 12 restoration projects, resulting in 350 acres of restored open space, was funded throughout Orange County.