This article originally appeared in Forward Motion, the Mobility 21 newsletter
Whether moving toward a zero-emission bus fleet, providing vanpools to reduce vehicle miles traveled, or directly protecting open spaces, OC’s transportation agency celebrates Earth Day every day.
The Orange County Transportation Authority has launched a new webpage that outlines the agency’s ongoing commitment to a balanced, equitable and sustainable transportation network.
While the launch coincided with Earth Day on April 22, OCTA’s commitment to a culture of sustainability and safeguarding Orange County’s air, land and water is a full-time effort that prioritizes protecting the environment for generations to come.
“From our zero-emission bus program to funding local projects that protect water quality, habitat and wildlife, OCTA always focuses on two important goals,” said OCTA Chairman Andrew Do, also the county’s First District Supervisor. “We work to keep Orange County moving safely and efficiently, and also protect and preserve the environment that makes this such a special place to live.”
The new site, www.octa.net/green, outlines how OCTA focuses on multiple aspects of the environment as the agency works to enhance public transportation, improve freeways and streets, and collaborate with regional and state partners to create a greener, more sustainable future.
Some of those efforts include:
Preserving and conserving land and water
- OCTA has purchased 1,300 acres of open space from willing sellers in Orange County’s foothills and along the coast to permanently preserve important plant and animal species. The land preservation has helped offset the effects of widening and improving freeways.
- More than $10 million has been allocated to restore some 350 acres of open-space land to its natural state, helping native plant and animal species thrive.
- Competitive grant funding to cities has helped capture transportation-related pollution before it reaches waterways. More than 33 million gallons of trash have been captured, helping keep local waterways and the ocean cleaner and safer for wildlife and people.
Green Bus Transit
- The OC Bus fleet runs on clean, renewable energy now and is headed toward a 100 percent zero-emission future to bring even cleaner air to Orange County.
- OCTA is conducting a zero-emission bus pilot program, testing 10 fuel-cell electric and 10 plug-in electric buses.
- In 2020, OCTA debuted the largest hydrogen fueling station for transit in the nation.
- That same year, 40 transit support vehicles were replaced with zero-emission electric vehicles.
Clean Travel Modes
- The OC Flex microtransit option is a pilot program that debuted in 2018 to help remove cars from the road and reduce air pollution.
- OCTA has awarded more than $140 million for active transportation programs that encourage walking, bicycling and other healthy travel options that lead to even cleaner air.
- In Orange County, OCTA supports Metrolink commuter rail, which reduces vehicle miles traveled by more than 339 million miles systemwide.
Cleaner Journeys on Freeways & Sustainable Streets
- OCTA has led the synchronization of more than 3,000 traffic signals, ensuring that drivers along those streets hit more green lights and spend less time idling in traffic, resulting in fewer emissions and greenhouse gases.
- Cleaner air has also been made possible through a strong vanpool program that encourages employees to share the ride.
- OCTA, which oversees the 91 Express Lanes in Orange County, pioneered congestion management pricing, leading to more efficient travel and less congestion.
- OCTA helped establish one of the most extensive HOV-lane connector networks in the state with carpool lanes on nearly all of the non-tolled freeways in Orange County.
- OCTA also works with partners to study the effects of climate change and with members of the community to ensure the agency continues to plan for the future.
“When Orange County voters overwhelming renewed our local sales tax measure 15 years ago, one thing we clearly heard was that in addition to improving transportation, we needed to be responsible stewards of our environment,” said OCTA CEO Darrell E. Johnson. “I’m proud to say that we continue to fulfill that promise for a cleaner, healthier future.”
Visitors to the website are encouraged to explore OCTA’s environmental efforts at their own pace and click on additional links to discover more information about each of the programs.