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Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Makes Major Route Changes in Final Light Rail Preparations

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

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Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

February 17, 2016 -- With the Expo Light Rail line due to make its debut this spring in Santa Monica, the Big Blue Bus starts a second round of major changes to its routes on February 21, part of an effort to make it as easy as possible to get to and from the trains, officials said.

The evolution of BBB as it starts its second phase includes expanded service to key destinations, like Venice’s Abbot Kinney and Marina del Rey, as well as more regional connections to Exposition Light Rail Stations, said BBB Transit Director Ed King.

“We know that Big Blue Bus service making first-last mile linkages to a major light rail line are critical connections for regional mobility, King said. “With the imminent opening of Expo Line Phase II, this is a phenomenal opportunity to attract new riders if it is connected seamlessly and in as many convenient locations as possible.”

He said BBB will provide north-south connectors about every half mile to the seven new rail stations along the Expo Line with origins and destinations to high-density areas and job centers.

Starting Sunday, Route 16 -- a new route -- will provide service from West Los Angeles (Wilshire Blvd. and Bundy Dr.) to Marina del Rey, serving the 26th Street/Bergamot Metro Rail Station along its route, officials said.

Route 3M will become the new Route 18 with extended southern service from Downtown Santa Monica to Venice's Abbot Kinney. Route 1 will change from Ocean Ave. to 4th St. to provide connections to the Expo terminus at the Downtown Santa Monica Metro Rail Station, and provide new service to Marina del Rey, King said.

Weekend service will be added on Route 41 along with direct connections to the 17th Street/SMC Metro Rail Station and new stops adjacent to Santa Monica College, he said.

He said the new Route 42 will provide counterclockwise service to Route 41 seven days a week beginning the first day of Metro Rail service, which is expected this spring.

He also said modifications will include regular bus stop changes and schedule changes to Routes 3, Rapid 3, 5,7, Rapid 7, Rapid 10, 14, and 15. Additional details are available online at

King also said the “NextBus” real-time mobile application and GTFS real-time data will reflect the new changes.

In addition, King said BBB has updated its on-board schedules to include the new changes, including its “Little Blue Book” transit guide. The materials are also available at the Transit Store and at public counters.

Under the $1.5 billion Phase 2 of the Exposition Transit Corridor, the Metro Expo Line is extending west to Santa Monica from the Culver City Station, running along the old Pacific Electric Exposition right-of-way to 4th St. and Colorado Av. in downtown Santa Monica.

The 6.6 mile second phase includes seven new stations at Palms, Westwood/Rancho Park, Expo/Sepulveda, Expo/Bundy, 26th St./Bergamot, 17th St./SMC and downtown Santa Monica

Major construction began in 2012, and safety testing of the trains has been underway since last year.

Daily Metro ridership to Santa Monica is anticipated to be 64,000, according to the Metro Westside/CentralServiceCouncil.

But recent reports have shown mass transit ridership slipping steadily over the last decade in Los Angeles County, including at Metro.

The BBB’s ridership also has struggled, although it expects to turn the corner this year, in part because of the arrival of the Expo line. BBB ridership peaked in 2010 with about 22.3 million riders. The total for the fiscal year ending July 31 was 18.7 million, according to BBB data.

The cost of tickets also has risen to help offset costs of all the changes being made to accommodate Metro. A basic ticket, for instance, rose a quarter, to $1.25 in January.

The BBB’s “Evolution of Blue” plan to integrate service with the Expo Light Rail Line started August 23, 2015 with the first round of routes changes, such as adding Route 15 for service along the Barrington Avenue corridor, new services to Playa Vista and modifications to Routes 5, 14, Rapid 3 and Rapid 7.

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