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Local News in Brief : Countywide : Transit Consolidation Recommended by Panel

A transportation super-agency should be formed to oversee the county’s transit problems and needs by consolidating the Orange County Transportation Commission with the countywide bus system and two smaller bus companies, an advisory board voted Monday.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Transportation Agency Consolidation directed OCTC staff members to study a plan that would merge the agencies into a new agency to be called the Orange County Transportation Authority.

Tuesday’s action does not create the new super-agency but directs the commission’s staff to analyze the proposal for cost-effectiveness and to determine how the agency would operate. The new agency would not be formed until an agreement is reached among participating agencies, OCTC spokesman Tom Fortune said.

The new agency would merge the Transportation Commission with Orange County Transit District (OCTD), the Consolidated Transportation Service Agency (a special bus system for the frail, elderly and handicapped) and the Laguna Beach Municipal Transit Line.

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The authority’s board would be made up of seven city representatives, three representatives from the County Board of Supervisors and one at-large member, Fortune said.

The ad hoc panel recommended forming the super-agency in a 6-2 vote Monday. The ad hoc group has two representatives each from the Transportation Commission, OCTD, the Board of Supervisors and cities.

The proposal was made by Santa Ana Mayor Dan Young, one of the city representatives. Bill Farris, representing OCTD, and Dana Reed, representing the commission, dissented. Farris favored a second consolidation plan to merge the three public bus systems but exclude the commission. Reed wanted the membership of the new agency’s board to be evenly split between city and county representatives, Fortune said.

The ad hoc committee has been considering consolidation to improve efficiency and eliminate duplication, Fortune said. No deadline was set for the commission staff to complete its study of consolidation.

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