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Orange County Transportation

Transportation in Orange County is offered primarily by the Orange County Transportation Authority, or OCTA, which was named America's #1 Transportation System in 2005, by the American Public Transportation Association. OCTA not only manages the extensive bus network crisscrossing the county, but also funds the construction and maintenance of local streets, highways, and freeways, operates a coordinated taxicab system, maintains express toll lanes through the median of the notoriously congested Riverside Freeway (SR/CA-91), and works with Southern California's Metrolink to provide commuter rail service along three lines - the Orange County Line, the 91 Line, and the Inland Empire-Orange County Line.

OCTA's bus network, which maintains 6,542 stops on 77 lines running along virtually all major streets, generates 210,000 boardings a day. OCTA's 817 buses are being gradually replaced by Liquefied Natural Gas-powered vehicles, currently comprising over 40% of the fleet. OCTA also planned to initiate local light rail service along the most heavily-congested bus routes, and along former railroad rights of way. Plans for such a system, however, were scrapped in favor of increased bus and road improvements in 2005.

Starting in 1992, Metrolink has operated commuter rail lines through Orange County. as of 1998, three lines through the area, added more stops, are still planning on adding yet more stops and service, and has also maintained Rail-to-Rail service with parallel Amtrak service. Together, the Orange County Line, the 91 Line and the Inland Empire-Orange County Line, along with Metrolink riders on parallel Amtrak lines, generate over 12,000 boardings on a typical weekday. On weekdays, 40 trains run along these three lines; Metrolink does not run on weekends. New stations have recently opened at Anaheim Canyon, Tustin, and Laguna Niguel, while Yorba Linda and Buena Park stations are proposed for future construction.

The major interstate highways of Orange County, all of which are to some extent north-south arteries, include the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5), the San Diego Freeway (I-405 and I-5 south of Irvine), and the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605), which only briefly enters Orange County territory. The other freeways in the county are state highways, and include the perpetually congested Riverside and Artesia Freeways (CA/SR-91) and Garden Grove Freeway (CA/SR-22) running east-west, and the Orange Freeway (CA/SR-57), Costa Mesa Freeway (SR/CA-55), Laguna Freeway (CA/SR-133), San Joaquin Transportation Corridor (CA/SR-73), Eastern Transportation Corridor (CA/SR-261, CA/SR-133, and CA/SR-241), and Foothill Transportation Corridor (CA/SR-241) running north-south. Minor stub freeways include the Richard M. Nixon Freeway (CA/SR-90), also known as Imperial Highway, and the southern terminus of Pacific Coast Highway (CA/SR-1).

The three transportation corridors, typically referred to as "the toll road" or by their number designations ("the 73", "the 133", "the 261", and "the 241") were constructed by a joint authority (the Transportation Corridor Agencies or TCA) in the 1990s. These toll roads were built to connect existing freeways (including the currently non-tolled portions of CA/SR-73 and CA/SR-133) to new South County developments, and to serve as alternate routes for crowded Orange County freeways. Tolls can be collected in cash or with the use of transponders for prepaid accounts. The median of the Riverside Freeway (CA/SR-91) also contains toll lanes known as the Express Lanes maintained by OCTA; users must maintain prepaid accounts to drive on these lanes.

Orange County's only major airport, John Wayne-Orange County Airport (SNA), is located in unincorporated territory surrounded by the cities of Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Newport Beach. Its modern Thomas F. Riley Terminal handles over 8 million passengers annually through 14 different airlines.

Orange County Travel Guide
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