OCTA has been awarded a $160.4 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration to help continue providing safe and reliable public transit services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
OCTA applied for the funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, signed into law in March. OCTA signed the grant agreement on July 6.
Orange County is grateful to have federal support in addressing the challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said OCTA Chairman Steve Jones, also the Mayor of Garden Grove. “This essential funding highlights the critical role transit has and will continue to play in providing support for essential travel during the pandemic, and in the future as part of a balanced and sustainable transportation system within the county.”
OCTA will use the funding to help sustain bus operations and to comply with state and federal requirements for public health and safety. The CARES Act funding will help make up for some of the sharp decline in revenue that corresponded to plummeting bus ridership when OC Bus service was temporarily reduced in March to protect the health and safety of the public and coach operators and to coincide with stay-at-home orders issued by the state.
OCTA responded quickly to the COVID-19 crisis and has continued to adapt operations as necessary.
The OCTA board approved funding for the 2020-21 fiscal year, which began July 1, for pre-COVID-19 levels of bus service, made possible with the federal CARES Act grant funding. Service will be added back based on ridership demand and with public health and safety as the guiding principle.
Since the public health crisis began, OCTA has implemented numerous safety measures, which continue. That includes hand sanitizer available to riders on every OC Bus, enhanced nightly cleaning of buses with extra focus on surfaces frequently touched and temporary rear-door boardings.
Reusable face coverings are available for free to passengers on Routes 43, Bravo! 543 and 66, and at the OCTA Store, 600 S. Main Street in Orange, during the current modified business hours, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
To view OCTA’s COVID-19 safety and operations guidelines, visit here.