The thought of getting around Orange County in any manner other than private automobile is rarely considered by residents if they can avoid it.

But there are alternatives. Consider:

* Amtrak makes stops at Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine, San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente. In Irvine, the trains make three northbound departures and another three departures southbound during weekdays; on weekends, there are only two departures in either direction. There is only one daily northbound departure from San Clemente, and two daily southbound stops.

For information about fares or the train schedule, call (800) USA-RAIL.


* Buses in Orange County are a surprise to many. Bus schedules are available to passengers and more often than not the buses arrive on time. Bus-stop signs are spaced every two or three blocks along the routes. The bus will stop if a person signals that he or she is awaiting a ride. Exact fare or a bus pass is required: Drivers do not carry change.

Regular fare at all times is 90 cents. It is 45 cents for seniors and the handicapped during weekday peak hours (6 to 9 a.m., 3 to 6 p.m.) and 15 cents at all other times. The blind may ride for free.

Orange County Transit District telephone operators provide bus times and will also send free bus schedules. They field calls at (714) 636-RIDE from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends. From south Orange County (cities south of Irvine) call (714) 496-4623. And TDD service for the hearing-impaired is available at (714) 636-HEAR or 636-4327. The information center is closed on holidays.

For the handicapped, the blind and the wheelchair-bound, dial-a-ride service has been the answer, particularly for patients traveling to or from a hospital or doctor. However, trip distances on dial-a-ride vans are limited within the boundaries of small zones, each covering a few square miles.

Fares are 90 cents for senior citizens and the disabled per zone and $1.80 per zone for all others. A dial-a-ride transfer to another zone doubles the cost of the trip. For bus or dial-a-ride information, phone (714) 636-7433.

* For people without a car and the desire to use public transportation, another answer is the car/van pool. Assistance is provided by the Transit District’s commuter network. Information regarding schedules and home/job areas is entered into a computer, which then matches the starting points, destinations and work schedules and provides individual names and contact phone numbers. After that it’s up to the principals to arrange the pool, including financial arrangements. The Transit District follows up to see if pools are working. If not, the computer will be asked to expand the so-called “home grid” to see if there are other possible matches. For information, call (714) 636-7433.


* Laguna Beach Municipal Transit offers a trolley service within city limits. This service costs 50 cents and can take a passenger anywhere within the buses’ complete circle tour of Laguna Beach. During the Festival of the Arts, the cost is 75 cents one way, or $2.50 for a full-day pass. For information, phone (714) 497-3311.

* If public transportation is inconvenient, or if you require immediate travel, a taxi may be the next best thing to driving your own car, if cost is not a hardship. Taxicabs are generally available within 15 minutes. The taxi’s meter starts at $1.90 and 20 cents is charged for each one-seventh of a mile, amounting to $3.30 for the first mile; $1.60 for each mile thereafter.

Coast Yellow Cab service for Costa Mesa, Tustin, El Toro, Westminster, Fountain Valley, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills and Irvine is available by calling (714) 546-4942 or (714) 546-1311. Yellow Cab service is available within specific cities; for additional numbers, check local telephone listings.

Source: Individual transportation agencies