By Chu-Ling Yee
La Habra Journal
Commuting around the city is going to become a lot faster and easier as La Habra is set to begin its first community bus route. Starting Aug. 4, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) will debut two new bus routes using their new compressed natural gas buses.
This is the first time a bus will circulate exclusively within La Habra. Residents can expect to make fewer transfers around the city.
The second route will also operate in La Habra, travel to St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton and continue on to the Fullerton Transportation Center. From there, individuals can transfer to any services offered by Amtrak and Metrolink.
The three new buses features a rear-mounted wheelchair lift, two equipped seated stations and seats 26 passengers. The buses comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and are easily accessibly to those with disabilities. The third bus will be reserved as a backup.
Aiming to improve the commute for riders, the buses and the new routes are designed to help commuters reach their destinations quicker.
These buses help transport people to their destinations while helping the environment, Councilmember Tim Shaw stated.
The new buses run on compressed natural gas (CGN). The natural gas is made from compressing natural gasses such as methane where heavy-duty compressors fuel the bus. There will be no congested spark plugs, as these buses do not contain lead or benzene that can pollute the spark plugs.
Compressed Natural gas is less expensive than gasoline. Gasoline cost $4 compared to $2 per gallon for compressed natural gas.
“The vehicle range on natural gas is about 25 percent less (because of fuel density) but CNG is still more cost effective and offers benefits to the environment,” Councilmember Tim Shaw said.
The new routes also “complement the regional bus systems”.
The fuel emits fewer pollutants, including carbon monoxide, which is harmful to the atmosphere. These buses have a seven-year life expectancy.
The city has considered a community-based bus route since 2011 but was unable to proceed due to lack of funds. As part of the renewed Measure M, Project V. OCTA announced a call for proposals in 2012. Measure M, approved by voters in 2006, is the county’s half-cent sales tax used for transportation improvements. The measure helps fund the buses until the fiscal year of 2019 through 2020.
In response, the city applied to seek funding last March from the Orange County Transportation Authority. The OCTA Board of Directors approved the city’s bid for up to $250,000 a year.
The buses cost $474,453 to operate annually. Orange County Transportation Authority will pay 90 percent of the cost and the rest will be paid by the city.
Riders pay a $1 fee. The fare is cheaper than the regular OCTA fare. Local OCTA buses fares are $2. Buses operating around the city will make it easier for riders to get to their destinations quicker.