Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus (BBB) has been working on expanding its facilities for almost a decade. The most recent addition to its campus is a new 66,000 square foot maintenance facility located at 1620 7th Street at the corner of Colorado Avenue.
The design and construction of the maintenance facility took nearly three years but City Council member Kevin McKeown noted proudly at the facility’s grand opening/open house on September 23 that the project was completed “on time and under budget.” Financing for the project came from public transit funds. This part of the BBB’s expansion will cost $60 million and includes not only the new maintenance facility and a new parking area, but also the demolition of the existing 40-year old maintenance facility.
McKeown mentioned that this facility was “deliberately designed and set-up to take care of our BBB’s buses in the 21st century.” The new facility contains 21 service bays that can handle the maintenance and repair of up to 20 alternative fuel buses a day. Included are three extended bays which will handle the servicing of the new 60-foot articulated buses that are expected to become part of the BBB’s fleet in 2011. The new facility also contains two bays that were designed to service and maintain the vehicles for the Santa Monica Fire Department. Operations at the new facility will take place 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Another goal in the facility’s design and construction, according to McKeown, was “being very careful to be good stewards of the environment” by incorporating many eco-friendly and energy efficient features. Some of the key features are 600 80-kilowatt photovoltaic rooftop panels to reduce energy costs, highly reflective concrete paving to keep the facility cooler, an urban runoff system to filter storm water, using reclaimed water for landscape irrigation, using building materials with recycled content and designing workspaces to utilize natural ventilation.
Also part of the facility is a 200-foot long programmable art wall. Designed by artist Dan Coron, the wall utilizes special glass panels that can change from transparent, to semi-transparent shades of blue. Eventually, a bus stop will be placed on one end of the wall.
The BBB’s Director of Transit Services, Stephanie Negriff, explained that the theme for the grand opening was “Then and Now” in order to contrast the differences in how buses are maintained now as opposed to 40-years ago. Those who attended could take a self-guided tour, view a 3-D video presentation about how the project was designed or watch equipment demonstrations.
The BBB transports 80,000 passengers a day across a nearly 52-square mile service area and annually drives 5.5 million miles. Its entire fleet operates on alternative fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG).