SANTA ANA In an effort to boost public transit use, the Orange County Transportation Authority proposed an unlimited bus rides program for Santa Ana College students.
The concept went over so well that 85 percent of the college’s student body voted in favor of it earlier this month, even though the bus passes are free only the first year of the service.
Under the approved three-year pilot program, all enrolling full-time and part-time students will pay $6.75 and $5.75, respectively, per semester for the unlimited bus pass the second and third years.
“A lot of our neighboring jurisdictions have worked with community colleges to do a similar plan like this, but the student body has to vote it in and they voted it in,” OCTA CEO Darrell Johnson told the transportation authority board on Monday, May 22. “We’re very excited about that.”
The fee for Santa Ana College students is minimal compared to the $185 bus pass OCTA already offers to college students, valid for 120 consecutive days from on-board activation. Regular fares on the OC Bus system are $2 per ride and $5 for a day pass.
“So as you can see, it’s quite a savings,” said Eric Carpenter, an OCTA spokesman.
Santa Ana College has a student population of about 29,000. It is bordered on the north and east by 17th and Bristol streets, two major thoroughfares.
Direct OC Bus routes serving the college include the 57/57Xpress Brea to Newport Beach, 60 Long Beach to Tustin, 64/64Xpress Huntington Beach to Tustin, 150 Santa Ana to Costa Mesa and 560 Santa Ana to Long Beach.
“For some students, transportation may be a barrier to completing their college education,” Santa Ana College President Linda Rose said in a statement.
That was the case for Santa Ana resident Martha Montoya-Herrera, 48, a paralegal student who takes routes 53 and 60 to the college, and voted in favor of the bus pass program.
“There are a lot of families who are low-income, myself included. There’s been many times where…