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New Bus Schedules to Start Sunday : Transportation: OCTA employees dispense maps, answer questions about route changes at transit hubs.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Orange County’s most extensive bus route change in three decades begins Sunday, including the elimination of four routes and the addition of smaller buses called runabouts on eight new community routes.

“We’ve been working really hard to get the word out but people still have a lot of questions,” said Dee Traverzo, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Transportation Authority. “This is by far the biggest route change we’ve had in 35 years.”

On Friday, 65 employees were stationed at transit hubs fielding questions and passing out maps. Sunday and Monday are expected to be confusing for the unprepared.

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With the changes, OCTA hopes to save about $2.4 million a year, at a time when Congress has slashed federal bus subsidies by 44%. Most of the savings will come from operating the new fleet of cheaper, smaller buses as OCTA replaces older vehicles approaching 500,000 miles.

“This is really the most we can do for the least money,” Traverzo said. “We think that, by and large, when people get used to the new system, they’ll be pleased.”

Transit officials are encouraging riders to learn the changes before making the commute. The four routes being eliminated are Route 78 between Huntington Beach and San Juan Capistrano; Route 161 between Westminster and Huntington Beach; Route 328 in Fullerton via Cal State Fullerton; and Route 529 between Laguna Hills and Huntington Beach.

The eight runabout routes will serve portions of Orange, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Westminster, Irvine, Foothill Ranch, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo and San Clemente.

Schedules on heavily traveled routes will be changed to speed service and combat crowding.

Buses will run at regular intervals, such as 10, 30 or 60 minutes. And arrivals and departures at major transit hubs will be timed to guarantee that no rider waits for more than 10 minutes between transfers.

While most riders of eliminated routes will be able to find new service lines within a few blocks, bus officials warned that as many as 200 people may be left beyond walking distance of a bus route.

A hot line will be set up for bus drivers the first few days to report problems.

To check on routes, call (714) 636--7433.


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