Watch CBS News

Irvine offering free bus rides with new pilot program

Want a free lift through Irvine? This new bus service could help you.
Want a free lift through Irvine? This new bus service could help you. 02:20

Konstantin Evchenko usually goes grocery shopping on his E-scooter. He can only buy what he can carry in his backpack. However, today, he's leaving it at home. 

About a one-minute walk from his Irvine home, there's a stop for a new free bus service called Irvine Connect. 

"There was a desire to make this convenient as possible with a 20-minute frequency, have a lot of stops so it's nearby," Transit Administrator Mike Davis said. "We decided, why don't we just make it free."

At a time when other transportation agencies are cutting routes and budgets, Irvine launched this one-year, $4 million pilot program on April 1. There are 70 stops around town, including the Spectrum Shopping Center Hoag Hospital and the Irvine Metrolink station. 

Right now, many of the bus stops do not look like bus stops. Instead, they're indicated by little yard signs, but city leaders said that will change pretty soon. 

"We had some locations that had to get moved because of water meters, other underground issues," Davis said. "Over the next 60 days, you should start to see permanent stops."

Yard signs or not, Evchenko, who calls himself a climate-conscious individual, is ecstatic about the free rides.

"When I walk with my kid, it takes about 25, sometimes 30 minutes to get there. So, definitely faster," he said. 

On the way to the store, several riders were heading to the Spectrum. 

"I don't have to take my car," resident May Tsui said. "I can look at the scenery. I really like it."

Several teenagers, who don't have a license yet, also hopped on the bus for a ride.

This time, at the grocery store, Evchenko was able to buy much more than usual. 

"I can just stock up on everything I need to while also enjoying my coffee  — while waiting for the bus," Evchenko said. 

After a quick six-minute air-conditioned ride, Evchenko was on his walk home. He hopes more people catch onto the bus so the pilot program continues after a year and expands so he can one day get rid of his car. 

"If we have more of those things of buses, the light rail, there wouldn't be a need," he said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.