The Voice of OC reported on the OCTA possibly cutting two routes from mass transit service in Santa Ana citing declining ridership. It’s drawn fire from the community which relies on public transportation in OC the most.
Former State Senator Lou Correa is calling on the OCTA and the Santa Ana City council to keep the routes open; this letter from Correa, a candidate for Congress in CD-46, was sent to the Liberal OC this morning.
As a longtime Central Orange County resident, and former representative in the State Legislature and former OCTA Board Member, I would like to express my opposition to the proposal to cut two important transit lines that run through the heart of Santa Ana, Routes 51 and 145.
While there are portions of the proposed OCTA bus re-alignment I do support, such as the proposed expansion of the BRAVO express bus line along 17th Street/Westminster Avenue, and the increase in service for Route 56 which runs along Garden Grove Blvd., I believe cutting any routes in Santa Ana, which has the highest transit ridership of any city in Orange County, is unnecessary and wrong.
According to SCAG and the US Census, eleven percent of Santa Ana’s residents take transit. OCTA is proposing to cut two transit lines that run through central Santa Ana. These lines run through areas with some of the highest boarding density in Orange County. The 51-Flower connects residents in the Pico-Lowell, Heninger Park, Mid-City, Wilshire Square, and Memorial Park neighborhoods to Santa Ana College and the office buildings and shopping in the South Coast Metro area. The 145-Raitt-Greenville-Fairview provides transportation to residents in Valley Adams, Bella Vista, Casa Bonita, and Artesia-Pilar to connect them to the Civic Center and the South Coast Metro area.
During the 16 years I represented this area in the State Assembly, County Board of Supervisors and State Senate, I traveled the areas of Santa Ana these routes run through quite often. I do not recall a single time that there was not a person waiting at bus stops on these routes. I have met with many constituents, be it working class residents, seniors and students who used these routes as essential pathways to get around their city or to get to and from school or work. I personally know that Special Education teachers at Valley High School use Route 145 as a means to teach their students proper socialization skills.
Instead of taking needed transit service away from Santa Ana and giving it to areas that do not use it, OCTA should make those routes more attractive by adding service, such as reducing the 51’s weekday headway from 30-60 minutes between buses to 15-20 minutes, the Saturday headway from 40 minutes to 20 minutes, and add Sunday service with 20 minute headways.
OCTA should also add service to the 145, to reduce the weekday headway from 45-60 minutes to at least 20 minute headways. Additional service on the 51 and 145 would also help relieve overcrowding on the 57-Bristol bus line.
Both of these bus lines will intersect the future OC Streetcar route in Downtown Santa Ana and provide residents access to the streetcar, which will also provide these residents regional mobility with access to the Santa Ana Train Depot.
Another bus line that runs through Santa Ana that OCTA is proposing to cut is the 76-MacArthur. This bus line is the only OCTA bus that connects Santa Ana to John Wayne Airport. Instead of cutting all transit options to John Wayne Airport, OCTA should extend the 53-Main Street to John Wayne Airport. Currently, the 53-Main only extends to Main and MacArthur in Santa Ana.
It is my understanding that OCTA held NO community meetings regarding these decisions. Such decisions need the input of those individuals that will be most affected. The two of the cities with the highest amount of transit ridership, Anaheim and Santa Ana, appear to have been marginalized in this decision making process.
Furthermore, as you may know, many senior citizens rely on public transportation. And, in many cases, public transportation is the only means of transportation for many seniors. Seniors, of all ethnic and socio-economic groups rely on public transportation as their sole source of transportation.
I ask that you reconsider this section of the proposal that takes essential service away from residents in Santa Ana. I commend your hard work and hope we can come to a “win-win” solution for both OCTA and the residents of Santa Ana.
cc: Santa Ana City Council