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Blue Bus Breaks Ground:

City officials donned hard hats and dug bus-blue shovels into a mound of earth as the Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines “broke ground” Monday, September 24, on a 66,000-square-foot state-of-the-art maintenance facility for the new millennium.

“The size of the fleet and the number of buses required to make daily roll-out has significantly increased in the last decade,” said Ralph Merced, Big Blue Bus transit maintenance manager.  “More buses out on the road mean more buses that need to be consistently maintained, fueled, cleaned, and repaired. The expansion of the maintenance facility will allow us to have enough room to keep improving our services for many years to come.”

The low brick building on Colorado Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets that housed BBB customer services, the OPCC Access Center, and homeless food operations that have moved indoors, will be coming down.  BBB customer service, now housed in the headquarters building at 1660 7th Street, will be moving to the new Transit Store at 3rd Street and Broadway in November.  The OPCC Access Center and the food operations have already moved to the new Access Center at 503 Olympic Boulevard (Santa Monica Mirror, September 13-19, 2007).

The new maintenance facility, which will be built along 7th Street between Colorado and Olympic Boulevard, will be a high one-story building (to accommodate repair/maintenance bays) with mezzanine-level offices, and will include 5,000 square feet of offices, 20 new repair bays including two chassis wash bays, locker rooms, a training room, library, parts storage, and other specialized areas. The upgrades will utilize the most advanced and sustainable building systems, construction materials, and landscaping available today.

Maintenance supervisor Ed Anderson, who earlier this month celebrated 30 years with the Big Blue Bus (Santa Monica Mirror, September 13-19), said that the new facility would have a new electronic and computer section, a new training section, and a lot more technology to accommodate 10 new expected trolley busses with liquid natural gas (LNG) fuel systems.  “This is an important and historic time, a long time coming,” he said.  “I only wish it had come sooner, because I’ll only have five years to retirement” when it’s done.

Construction will begin in February 2008, with completion expected in January 2010.

Stephanie Negriff, BBB Director of Transit Services, presided at the groundbreaking, and City Councilmembers Kevin McKeown and Pam O’Connor spoke.  O’Connor, who this year chairs the County Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro), said that the transportation sector is responsible for 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.  She noted that not only were the Blue Bus transportation operations eco-friendly, but the new facility would be a LEED-certified project.

Specifically, the new maintenance facility will include, among many other features:

• Photovoltaic panels that collect power from the sun and supply energy to the buildings;

• Construction materials made of recycled content such as concrete, steel, insulation, and gypsum board to reduce landfill waste;

• A reclaimed water irrigation system for landscaping, and storm water management and site infiltration to ensure water entering the bay will be clean;

• Light colored concrete in the bus yard to cool the air temperature and reduce the “heat island” effect; and,

• Light-colored single-ply roofing called “Cool Roof” to reflect solar energy away from the buildings and prevent heat buildup in the facilities.

The new facility will make possible the expansion of Rapid service from the current Line 3 on Lincoln Boulevard to include Line 7 on Pico Boulevard (on which 25 percent of the Blue Bus passengers ride, according to Negriff) and the use of articulated busses on both lines. 

The architect for the new facility is the international HOK Architects firm with local offices in Culver City.  The General Contractor is Morley Builders of Santa Monica. 

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