Faced with continuing budgetary issues, the Big Blue Bus (BBB) has made a few alterations to its service in and around the City of Santa Monica, extending the services of a few lines while eliminating lines with minimal ridership.
Specifically, the lines most directly effected include the Rapid 7 and Local 7 routes, as well Lines 1, 2, 10, and 13. According to BBB, the Rapid 7 service over Local Route 7 would be increased, while Line 2 and Route 13 may be eliminated.
Further, Express 10 would be converted to a Rapid 10 service “to maintain and improve frequency” while Line 2 will be reduced (but not eliminated) to avoid “duplication of Line 1 service in Venice;” according to Dan Dawson, BBB’s customer relations manager, as Line 2 has a smaller ridership than Line 1, it is unnecessary to have both lines operating the small portion of its respective routes where both overlap.
Connecting downtown Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles, BBB proposed a reduction of stops along Line 10, while the number of stops between downtown Santa Monica and the Rimpau Transit Center along Line 7 may also be cut.
None of the changes will be final until the Santa Monica City Council votes on the issue. A composite report, including public input, will be presented to Santa Monica City Council at its May 10 meeting.
The alterations to BBB service were “being considered as part of the transit agency’s five-year service plan” and made after a series of public input hearing were held from March 2 to 10 and in light of an operational survey conducted by international consulting firm Transportation Management and Design, Inc.
Just the same, the arrival of the Exposition Light Rail Line also played into BBB’s service alterations and line eliminations.
“Several important services changes will be (made) for the coming years as the Big Blue Bus plans for Expo Light Rail Phase 1, including options to improve downtown circulation and create operating efficiencies,” Francine Pares of InteliBrand said in a release.
In May 2010, the Council approved a fare restructuring to address the agency’s $6.4 million budget shortfall and help close that gap by $2.4 million annually. With regular fares increased from 75 cents to one dollar last August, the Council and BBB had hoped the raised fees would help “avert reductions in service through fiscal year 2011-12.”
“Overall our goal is twofold: first, we don’t want to increase the budget, but we also want to increase service efficiency,” Dawson said, adding the transit board is also making route changes in light of the completion of the Exposition Light Rail, which will be operational on some portions of the bus’s service as early as next year.
Dawson also added a new downtown loop shuttle service will be added, catering to any and all vistors to the downtown core as well monthly parkers displaced from the planned demolition of parking structures three and six. With a few exceptions applying to certain pass holders, such as the displaced parkers from lots three and six, normal BBB fares apply to the shuttle service.
The proposed alterations will be presented to the Council at its May 10 meeting, where it will decide whether to confirm or suggest changes to the BBB’s tweaks to its five-year service plan.