Transportation and education officials this week marked the expansion of the Orange County Transportation Authority’s student bus pass program to two more college campuses, allowing enrolled students to travel free on any OC Bus.
The program began this week at Golden West College in Huntington Beach and at Fullerton College. Officials gathered for an event marking the launch at Golden West on Wednesday, and will hold a similar event at Fullerton College next month.
OCTA is expanding on the success of the program, which began at Santa Ana College in 2017. The program has helped increase ridership, introduced new riders to public transit and allowed access to higher education for students, some who say they wouldn’t be able to attend college without it.
So far, more than 2.28 million boardings have been recorded and more than 11,500 students have ridden the bus.
“This program is not only helping students discover how affordable and convenient public transportation can be, it is also helping them access education and achieve their dreams,” said OCTA Chairman Tim Shaw, also a La Habra Councilman.
The student program allows full-time and part-time students enrolled at the colleges to download a free pass via the OC Bus app or to use their student identification cards to ride free on the regular OC Bus system, allowing them to get to school, to work, or wherever the bus travels across Orange County.
Funding for the three-year pilot program at Golden West College is a partnership between OCTA and the college. For the first year, the cost of the program is funded through a grant OCTA was awarded from state cap-and-trade funds, available through the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program.
For the second and third years, the Associated Students of Golden West College will cover the cost, with no additional student fees.
“We know that many of our students struggle to get to and from our campus,” said Golden West College President Tim McGrath. “This partnership is proof of our commitment to increase access to Golden West College, for our students and the community we serve. It has already begun to pave a path to success for so many of our students.”
The program began with a pilot project at Santa Ana College, then was expanded to Santiago Canyon College in Orange last year.
A survey of students at Santa Ana College showed that, overall, 86 percent were satisfied with the college pass. Nearly 70 percent of those who rode the bus to school chose to also ride OC Bus to other destinations, and 96 percent said using the pass helps them achieve their educational goals.
Based on that initial success, OCTA looked at opportunities to expand the student pass program to other Orange County campuses. This school year, which began on Monday, Aug. 26, the program expanded to Golden West College and Fullerton College.
The typical cost to ride the OC Bus system is $2 per ride, $5 for a day pass, or $185 for a full-semester student bus pass, so students who ride the bus through OCTA’s student bus pass program see substantial savings over the course of the semester.
This effort is part of OCTA’s OC Bus 360° initiative, which is enhancing bus service in Orange County by maximizing existing resources and tailoring transit solutions to better meet the needs of the public.
This article was released by the Orange County Transportation Authority.