ORANGE – The Orange County Transportation Authority is stepping up its ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking this month, fully wrapping a bus with the message to join O.C. in fighting this form of modern-day slavery through the “Be The One” campaign.
The OCTA campaign, which encourages riders and the public to “Be The One to Help Out,” coincides with January as Human Trafficking Month.
“Human trafficking is a problem nationwide. Sadly, it harms some of our most vulnerable people right here in Orange County,” said OCTA Chairman Andrew Do, also the county’s First District Supervisor. “I’m proud of OCTA’s efforts to bring public awareness to the problem and to train employees to get help for victims.”
The addition of a fully wrapped bus means that two 40-foot buses will travel across Orange County wrapped in the Be The One (BT1) campaign ad, and buses throughout the county display interior cards with the National Human Trafficking Hotline: (888) 3737-888.
In addition to information on the outside and inside OC Buses, OCTA’s effort also includes training all coach operators on how to spot and report potential human-trafficking crimes and to get help for potential victims.
Research has consistently indicated that California reflects the highest numbers of human trafficking victims in the United States – largely because the anti-trafficking field in California, including law enforcement, victim services, and the public, has been working together for years to better understand the issue and identify victims. There are also strong outreach efforts to potential victims so they know how to access help. The BT1 campaign is an example of that effort.
In 2019, more than 1,500 cases were reported statewide. And according to the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force’s 2019 Victim Report, the task force identified more than 400 human trafficking victims over a two-year period just in Orange County.
Experts on the issue report the problem of human trafficking has only gotten worse during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline jumping by more than 40 percent between September 2019 and September 2020.
“The continued partnership between the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF) and OCTA is especially essential right now. Even in the midst of stay-at-home orders and a national health crisis threatening the livelihoods of all people, the crime of human trafficking has not stopped,” said Ronnetta Johnson, executive director of Waymakers, which is the administrator for the OCHTTF. “OCTA’s efforts to expand riders’ awareness of the horrors of Human Trafficking through the Be The One campaign help enable the Task Force to better identify, investigate, prosecute and provide crucial services to victims and survivors.”
OCTA’s efforts to train coach operators and spread the message on OC Buses date back to 2014, when OCTA launched its first Be The One campaign with grant funding from the Transportation Security Administration.
In addition to the bus wrap, OCTA will help spread the anti-human-trafficking message through paid social media ads and on its website.
For more information, visit: www.octa.net/helpout.
About OCTA: The Orange County Transportation Authority is the county transportation planning commission, responsible for funding and implementing transit and capital projects for a balanced and sustainable transportation system that reflects the diverse travel needs of the county’s 34 cities and 3.2 million residents. With the mission of keeping Orange County moving, this includes freeways and express lanes, bus and rail transit, rideshare, commuter rail, environmental programs and active transportation.