The Orange County Transportation Authority approved a plan to slash bus service hours by 400,000 through June 2010 that will lead to the layoffs of nearly 400 drivers, maintenance workers and bus administrators, the OCTA's Joel Zlotnik said.
The OCTA is facing an expected $272 million decrease in funding over the next five years, Zlotnik said.
A big drop is in State Transit Assistance funds. During the latest budget negotiations, the state cut more than $21 million through the end of the fiscal year in money headed to Orange County, Zlotnik said.
That source of funding is expected to be totally unavailable in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, Zlotnik said.
Since December, the board has reduced hours by 133,000, including the last batch of 55,000 hours reduced through June. It will result in about 20 layoffs, Zlotnik said.
He had no immediate specifics on when they will take place.
Of the other layoffs, scheduled in quarterly increments through June 2010, plans are to lay off 65 drivers, 14 maintenance workers and 13 bus administrators each quarter, Zlotnik said.
Union officials, who attended the meeting and addressed the trustees, said that nearly a quarter of a million riders, mainly the working poor, will be adversely affected and may be devastated by these cuts.
Orange County's transit planners also appointed an interim head Monday while beginning a search to replace Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy, who headed the agency since 2001 and was hired to lead the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Meanwhile, the reins of the OCTA will be in the hands of Jim Kenan, executive director of finance and administration, once Leahy leaves on Friday, Zlotnik said.