City Council to Hear Revised Big Blue Bus Expo Integration Plan



Earlier this year, Big Blue Bus unveiled its plan for comprehensive service changes designed to integrate the municipal system with Expo Phase II, expected to begin running passengers between Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica in early 2016

After several community meetings and a thorough customer survey, Big Blue Bus officials will go before the City Council Tuesday to present the agency’s revised plan (PDF), which include the addition of new lines connecting Expo stations to nearby neighborhoods, Santa Monica College (SMC), and the Veterans’ hospital in Westwood as well as the elimination of redundant or underused routes.

“Thanks to you, between July and October 2014 we received over 4,600 survey responses and over 12,300 individual written and verbal comments through email, survey, letters, public meetings, and workshops regarding the initial iteration of proposed changes to BBB service,” according to the Big Blue Bus’ website. “As a result of overwhelming feedback on some items, the proposed plan was revised significantly. For example, Route 2 and Route 8 service to UCLA will remain the same as the current service and service between UCLA and Santa Monica along Montana Ave (current Route 3M) will also remain – in a new route proposed to be called ‘Route 18’.”

While the Council will comment on the proposed revised plan Tuesday, it won’t go before the Council for final approval until March 2015, according to the staff report.

The revised plan is, in substance, similar to what was originally proposed in July, with some key changes staff made in response to community comments.

The whole revised plan is available here as a PDF, but below are some highlights:

  • Route 8, which currently runs from Downtown Santa Monica to UCLA via Ocean Park Boulevard and Westwood, was originally going to be rerouted and end its route at the Culver City station. The revised plan shows Route 8 continuing to UCLA.
  • Route 1, which runs from Venice to UCLA via Downtown Santa Monica and Santa Monica Boulevard, will no longer serve Venice High School but instead continue down to Marina del Rey.
  • The revised plan has a new route, Route 18, which will run from Venice to UCLA via Downtown Santa Monica and Montana Avenue. Route 18 will run smaller buses in response to concerns expressed by 4th Street residents.
  • Staff has recommended adding weekend service to Route 41-42, the Memorial Park Loop. The route connects Santa Monica College to Montana Avenue and the 17th Street Expo Light Rail station.
  • Staff has added a new peak-only line, Route 43, which will connect San Vicente Boulevard to the Expo Line Bergamot station via 26th Street.
  • Route 17, another new line, is similar to the proposed Route S in the original plan. Like Route S, Route 17 will connect the Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center to the Westwood/Pico and Culver City Expo Light Rail stations. Unlike Route S, however, it will also serve UCLA.
  • Route 16, introduced in the original plan as Route T, will no longer serve San Vicente (that’s for Route 43 now). Instead, it will connect Wilshire and Bundy to Glencoe and Mindanao via Bergamot Station, Santa Monica College, 23rd Street, Walgrove Avenue, Venice High, Costco on Venice Blvd., and Marina del Rey.
  • Route 15, originally introduced as Route B, will still connect Brentwood Village (Sunset and Barrington) to the Bundy Expo Light Rail station. The revised plan, however, does not have the route continue south to Washington Boulevard, as in the original proposal.
  • And, we could also see weekend service on the Rapid 7, which connects Downtown Santa Monica and SMC to the Wilshire/Western Purple Line stop in Koreatown via Pico Boulevard. Route 7 — both Rapid and Local — is the BBB’s busiest route.
  • BBB is also proposing some changes to the way buses travel through Downtown Santa Monica, geared, in part, to minimize curbside layovers in the bustling district.
  • Farewell to these routes, which the BBB is proposing to eliminate because they will be made redundant by the addition of the above routes or the arrival of Expo Phase II: Route 4, Route 6, Route 13, and Route 20, which currently connects Downtown Santa Monica to the Culver City Expo Light Rail Station.

When Expo Phase II finishes construction, there will be three stops in Santa Monica: one in Downtown, another at 17th Street and Colorado Avenue near SMC, and another at Olympic Boulevard and 26th Street. There will also be stations at Palms, Westwood/Rancho Park, Exposition/Sepulveda, and another at Exposition/Bundy.

With the Expo Line is projected to carry 64,000 riders per day by the year 2030, BBB staff said that the integration plan is to help make connecting to the Expo stations as easy and convenient as possible for riders.

If approved in March, the first half of the changes could go into effect by August-September 2015 with the second half of the changes taking effect in spring 2016.

Jason Islas
Jason Islas
Jason Islas is the editor of Santa Monica Next and the director of the Vote Local Campaign. Before joining Next in May 2014, Jason had covered land use, transit, politics and breaking news for The Lookout, the city’s oldest news website, since February 2011.


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