About OCTA - OCTA 30th Anniversary

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30 Years Keeping Orange County Moving

Since 1991, OCTA has partnered with the people of Orange County to create the vibrant, well-connected community of today.

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Two Polaroid-style photos, each showing the OC Bus driving in front of the OCTA office building.  One is recent and one is from the past.

Orange County, Then and Now

In 1991, Orange County was a suburban community with about 2.4 million people and limited access to freeways, bus service and commuter rail. Since then, the population has grown by nearly 30 percent, adding more than 718,000 new residents.

Today, Orange County is a highly desirable place to call home with a thriving economy noted for its tech, microbiology and tourist centers. All are connected by OCTA’s thoughtfully planned transportation network that successfully serves the diverse travel needs of residents and preserves the unique character of communities. 

Driving Transformation

In 1991, seven county transportation agencies with seven different objectives were consolidated into one. Lean and efficient, the newly formed Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) began moving Orange County forward with a singular plan for regional connectivity. OCTA is responsible for projects, programs and services that affect the daily quality of life for Orange County’s nearly 3.2 million residents and countless others who commute or come here for recreation. By increasing efficiency and eliminating duplicative functions, OCTA has saved county taxpayers millions of dollars.

agencies consolidated into OCTA:
  • Orange County Transportation Commission
  • Orange County Transit District
  • Consolidated Transportation Services Agency
  • Orange County Local Transportation Authority
  • Orange County Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies
  • Orange County Congestion Management Agency
  • Orange County Service Authority for Abandoned Vehicles
OCTA logo
Freeway at the El Toro Y Interchange where the 405 and 5 freeways merge
Photo: El Toro Y Interchange

Promises Made, Promises Kept

Encouraged by the idea that money would go to projects rather than people, in 1991 Orange County voters passed Measure M, the first transportation sales tax since 1912. After experiencing the success and progress of the original Measure M, nearly 70% of voters renewed the 30 year-year half-cent transportation sales tax in 2006 to launch Measure M2, also known as OC Go. Administered by OCTA, OC Go continues to put tax dollars to work locally, often through grants to the County and Orange County’s 34 cities for projects that improve life every day.

During the past 30 years, the transportation sales tax has opened the county with freeway connections, provided more than 1 billion dollars in flexible funding to cities and the County for street improvements and local transportation needs and helped the environment. The taxpayers told us what they wanted, and we continue to deliver.

Measure M logo is an illustrated orange with green leaves OC Go logo
Photo collage of California wildflowers, the 91 Express Lanes, an Orange County road intersection, and a rendering from the OC Streetcar light rail project.

Connecting Orange County

By offering convenient access to and from Orange County, freeways improve our quality of life with connections to employment, entertainment, activities, medical services, education and much more.
Freeways intersecting at the I-5 / SR-91 Interchange
Two photos overlapping, one shows OC Bus and the other shows a photo rendering of the OC Streetcar.

Tailoring Transit

Prior to 1991, bus service was provided by the Orange County Transit District (OCTD), one of the seven agencies that merged to form OCTA. Today, Orange County residents rely on safe, affordable OC Bus for everyday journeys with nearly 60 routes and more than 5400 stops.

The OC Bus system is carefully planned for connectivity with other forms of transit, including Metrolink, OC Flex, local shuttles and the upcoming OC Streetcar. Special transit options that allow riders to easily connect with fun, school and other activities include the OC Fair Express, the Angels Express, free summer trolleys and the College Pass Program.

Helping Travelers Live Life on Time

In 2003, OCTA purchased the privately held 91 Express Lanes for the public, removing restrictions and allowing improvements that benefit all motorists along the entire SR-91 Corridor between Orange and Riverside counties. Since then, travelers have taken nearly 250 million trips. Then and now, the 91 Express Lanes enhances the regional economy and provides a choice of when and how to travel to fulfill personal goals and lead more balanced lives.

91 Express Lanes
Two overlapping photos - one shows a ribbon cutting ceremony for Metrolink and another shows an aerial view of the Metrolink train traveling along the coast.

Commuter Rail Comes to Orange County

Thirty years ago, the Amtrak-operated Orange County Commuter train made one round-trip per weekday between LA and San Juan Capistrano. Now, OCTA partners with Metrolink to plan and fund 54 weekday and 16 weekend trains, providing a direct regional gateway to surrounding counties and the rest of the country.

Metrolink takes cars off roads, reduces pollution, and links residential communities to employment and activity centers. More than half of Orange County’s population and approximately half of its jobs are within four miles of a Metrolink station.

Metrolink

Improving Streets & Roads

Keeping Orange County’s 6500 lane miles of roadway in good repair has always been a key part of OCTA’s mission. Working with the county’s 34 cities, OCTA constructed bridges to separate cars from trains for safe and reliable commuting, synchronized traffic lights for less stop and more go and repaired aging streets for smoother, safer travel. The pavement condition of Orange County’s streets and roads consistently ranks best in the state.
Aerial view of a large, 8-lange Orange County road

Planning for Bikeways

In 1995, OCTA assumed responsibility for a countywide bikeways plan for on-road and off-road bicycle routes. There are now more than a thousand miles of bikeways throughout the county, many with rail and bus connections to make commuting and general traveling possible without a car.

Two overlapping photos of the zero-emission OC Bus
Icon illustration of a growing leaf

Reducing Emissions

In 2000, OCTA was one of the first to begin the transition from diesel to less polluting alternative fuel for buses. Today, most of the fleet run on clean-burning renewable compressed natural gas (CNG).

Icon illustration of a growing leaf

As part of its plan to convert the OC Bus fleet to 100 percent zero-emission technology by 2040, OCTA is conducting a pilot program using plug-in battery-electric buses and hydrogen fuel-cell electric buses.  

Cleaning & Greening OC

As part of its commitment to voters, OCTA permanently protects open space, restores properties and ensures that valuable animal and plant species can thrive forever for future generations. Working with cities, OCTA protects beaches and ocean water from transportation-generated pollution that collects on roadways and in storm drains.
Group of people hiking

Our accomplishments during the last three decades form a solid foundation for the future as we continue to move Orange County forward.

30 Years Keeping Orange County Moving
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