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Sounding Off -- Gary Alstot

An article by David Forbes (University of Chicago Magazine, April 2)

told how his university education began in 1967 with the welcoming


Dean Wayne Booth told the students to “See through the guff.”


Having never heard the term “guff,” he figured it was a Midwest term

for bull.

He concluded this had been good advice.

Why I don’t know, but the comments reminded me of some material I


received from the Orange County Transportation Authority. OCTA is asking

us to nominate those we believe have helped to improve Orange County’s


This month OCTA is very excited. After 30 years officials there expect

to have their one-billionth bus rider.

Is this promotion guff? The fare for each bus trip requires a

subsidy. Would any business survive very long losing money on each sale?

Do they think they can make up the loss with volume? OCTA didn’t mention


one billion vehicle trips occur in Orange County in less than a year.

OCTA also has spent millions of dollars on a rail system that will

never recover the capital investment and each fare must be subsidized to

cover operating costs.

These losses were known from the beginning. Did these expenditures add

effective capacity or was it guff?

OCTA has built, with Measure M sales tax money, more than 170 miles of

carpool lanes since 1990.


Even though the capacity of all the lanes is decreased with the

weaving required for carpool users, we were told carpool lanes would

reduce vehicle pollution by attracting single occupied vehicles to


Was this guff?

Since 1990, according to the 2000 census, Orange County population

increased more than 15% and the number of car-poolers has decreased.

Think OCTA is looking for a better use for the carpool lanes?

Should the Laguna Beach mainline transit service be recommended to


Like the OCTA public transit, it loses money with every rider. Between

1984-85 and 2000-01 annual ridership has dropped from 146,432 to 88,149.

What must happen to increase ridership?

A recent city agenda item discussed the cost of a single OCTA Access

trip for seniors.

A round trip on the OCTA Access would cost the city $50.66. The city

taxi voucher program, which costs $8 per trip, and Sally’s Fund

transportation service, were being considered.

The city agenda item stated "(taxi drivers) are not trained to deal

with seniors.”

Don’t taxi drivers have parents or grandparents? Can’t drivers be

trained? According to city data furnished in the agenda item, the round

trip difference in cost between a taxi voucher and the other alternatives

would be more than $30.

If the $30 difference were shared with the seniors, which method of

transportation would they choose? Do the taxi drivers know what a sweet

deal they offer?

A traffic count, made about the time the first Initial Environmental

Study was prepared for the proposed joint Community and Senior Center,

indicated the 24-hour traffic volume on Third Street was 5,271.

A couple of months after the final draft of that study was prepared,

this number was found to be in error. The two-direction, 24-hour, two-day

average was 8,645 vehicles per day. The city’s study for the joint

community and senior center states the proposed project may have

“potentially significant impact” on transportation and traffic.

We are told a traffic and parking study will be completed for the

proposed project.

Why wait for the project design to be completed when these higher

traffic volumes have a significant impact on the existing street and

circulation system no matter what is built on Third Street?

Is the traffic and parking study to be guff?

With the city budget under review how much more is guff?

Just wondering.

* GARY ALSTOT is a Laguna Beach resident and regular contributor to

Sounding Off.