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Orange County Transportation Authority board members approved a $1.16 billion budget that includes money for an expansion of the San Diego (405) Freeway, including toll lanes.

The budget also allows OCTA officials to hold the line on bus fares. Monday, the agency rolled out its new OC Bus 360-degrees program that puts more vehicles on popular routes while scaling back on the less-traveled ones, according to Joel Zlotnik of the OCTA.

Raising fares would discourage bus riders at a time when the agency is trying to reverse downturn in ridership on some routes, Zlotnik said.

“Ridership has been struggling” on some routes, Zlotnik said.

Also on the agency’s agenda this year is acquiring streetcars for the proposed line from Santa Ana to Garden Grove, Zlotnik said.

The San Diego Freeway improvement project will add one regular lane in each direction as well as a tolled lane in each direction that is similar to the ones on the Riverside (91) Freeway, Zlotnik said. The new lanes will go from Costa Mesa to the county line in Seal Beach.

OCTA has budgeted $345.1 million for bus service, $183.2 million for road improvements, $230.4 million for freeway projects and $10.5 million for environmental cleanup. The fiscal year begins July 1.

–City News Service

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