Featured graphic for the Orange County Transportation Authority

Free bus rides off to strong start at Fullerton College

More than 13,000 bus boardings have been recorded in the first three weeks since a new student bus program launched for the fall semester at Fullerton College.

Transportation and education officials Thursday, Sept. 12 marked the expansion of the Orange County Transportation Authority’s student bus pass program to Fullerton College, allowing enrolled students to travel free on any OC Bus.

OCTA is expanding on the success of the program, which began at Santa Ana College in 2017. The program has 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.

The student bus-pass program also launched this semester at Golden West College in Huntington Beach and is now at four Orange County campuses – also including Santa Ana and Santiago Canyon colleges.

In total, more than 2.3 million boardings have been recorded and more than 14,000 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 Fullerton 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, and from the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee, also known as MSRC.

For the second and third years, Fullerton College students voted to pay a small fee as part of their registration to help cover the cost.

“I am so proud of the work Associated Students, Fullerton College staff and our partners at OCTA have done to help address a critical student need,” said Fullerton College President Greg Schulz. “Access to free public transportation throughout Orange County not only helps our students get to and from campus, but also helps them with transportation for personal and job-related use. I hope many students take advantage of the program.”

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.

For more information on the Fullerton College program, visit www.ocbus.com/fc.

This article was released by the Orange County Transportation Authority.