The Orange County Transportation Authority Monday announced a one-year pilot program to provide an inexpensive daily shuttle service for commuters.
The service will operate like a combination of an airport shuttle and ride-hailing companies like Uber or Lyft.
Commuters in either of two zones — one in Huntington Beach and Westminster and the other in Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo and Laguna Niguel — can call for a ride and be taken to an address they request. Along the way, drivers of large vans will pick up and drop off other commuters.
The vans can hold up to eight passengers, said OCTA spokesman Eric Carpenter.
The OCTA’s aim is to pick up riders within 20 minutes, he said. The cost will be $4.50 for commuters using a new OC Flex Mobile app, or passengers can pay $5 cash on board.
The daily pass offers unlimited rides in either of the zones throughout the day. Any commuters wishing to go beyond the designated zones can use the pass to hop on an OCTA bus for no extra fee.
The service will be offered from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
The Huntington Beach-Westminster zone will begin next Monday. The south county zone will begin service on Oct. 20.
“This is a great example of OCTA trying new ways to meet the changing needs of our community by providing alternative modes of transportation that improve mobility for our residents,” said Orange County Supervisor and OCTA Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett. “We hope that this innovative option will help introduce more people to the convenience and affordability of public transit.”
OCTA officials also touted the safety and training of their drivers.
“These are trained drivers who have been through background checks and plenty of safety training,” Carpenter said.
The project will cost the agency about $1.2 million, which has been primarily funded by a grant from the state aimed at cutting down on air pollution.