Santa Monica Lookout
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Santa Monica Seeks Input on New Bus Seats

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Lookout Staff

February 4, 2015 -- In response to widespread criticism from customers last year, the City’s Big Blue Bus service is raising the curtain on two new roomier prototype bus seats riders can try out for themselves, transit officials said.

As part of a public input phase, BBB officials are installing a pair of the prototype seats at six different locations around the City over the next three weeks, said Sirinya Matute, a Big Blue Bus spokeswoman.

The two prototype seats “look similar but have modest differences in seat height, depth, and width, which might affect your comfort and the seat's functionality,” BBB officials said.

BBB officials want riders to sit in the seats and then provide their feedback at Riders also can complete a paper survey available at the Ken Edwards Center, 1527 4th Street, or by calling 310-451-5444 during business hours, Matute said.

Officials hope “as many people as possible can have a chance to try it out, provide feedback, and obtain buy-in,” Matute said.

Starting now and continuing through February 19, the pair of seats will be moved from place to place around the City, she said, according to this schedule:

  • Today and Wednesday at Montana Avenue and 17th  Street;
  • February 5 to February 8 at Lincoln Boulevard and Ashland Avenue;
  • February 9 to February 11 at Lincoln and Montana;
  • February 12 to February 15 at Wilshire Boulevard and 16th Street, and
  • February 16 to February 19 at Santa Monica Boulevard and 22nd Street.

Last July, Big Blue Bus officials announced plans to redesign bus stop seats after receiving hundreds of customer complaints about new “lily pad” bus seats installed at dozens of stops as part of a $7 million Bus Stop Improvement Project.

About 40 of the lily pad-style bus stops, which featured two side-by-side seats under circular canopies, were installed before officials decided to nix that design and go back to the drawing board.

Riders complained the canopies provided insufficient shade and the seats were uncomfortable. Officials received many complaints from elderly and disabled riders, BBB officials told The Lookout in July.

“We have received numerous customer requests for additional seating, shade, and comfort and are working with the City’s architect, Public Works Department and project contractors to accommodate these requests,” Ed King, BBB’s director of Transit told The Lookout.

The two new seat designs “reflect extensive feedback” that BBB officials received this past fall from the public, including “members of the City's Disabilities Commission and the Commission on Senior Community as well as a group of frequent bus riders of varying ages (millennials to seniors) and physical health,” BBB officials said.

“Ultimately, we want a seat that is universal so that we get the feedback we need in order to finalize the design of a chair that is accessible to as many people as possible,” officials said.

BBB officials, however, will not change how the seats are sited, saying the seats are situated “so that riders can find shade somewhere during the day, although there is no guarantee that the shade will be cast over a seat.”

The design also doesn’t guarantee complete protection against rain, BBB officials said.

“Rain is such a rare occurrence, so the requirement to provide shade took priority,” officials said.

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