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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

September 8, 2016 -- Back in the day, before record numbers of Metro Line riders, vehicles and tourists jammed downtown Santa Monica this summer, a special shuttle service eased passengers to and from hotels and famed shopping districts in the heart of the beschside city.

Known as the “Tide Ride,” the shuttle service was eliminated in 2010, the victim of declining ridership and a need for budget cuts so pronounced not even a campaign by Downtown businesses could save it ("Turning the Tide on Shuttle Proposal," February 18, 2009).

Moving on to downtown Santa Monica, summer of 2016: Crowding is historic, City Manager Rick Cole acknowledged recently.

But don’t expect Tide Ride to be re-deployed for now in conjunction with the City’s sometimes overwhelmed effort to help the public safely and sanely navigate Downtown, a key official said

“We are not considering resurrecting the Tide Shuttle at this point,” said Edward King, director of the City’s Big Blue Bus system.

King noted the City now works with local tourism officials to operate golf cart-style hotel shuttles to ferry guests through traffic, “and we understand that the system has worked successfully.”

King also pointed to the BBB’s “outstanding” network of fixed routes operating along all of the major corridors downtown.

Next spring, he said, officials will start evaluating the changes BBB launched in its new “Evolution of Blue” project, which is an attempt to mesh service with the Metro light rail extension into Santa Monica this May.

All but a single route of 20 in total were restructured, and six new routes added, King said.

BBB will report back to the City Council with an assessment next summer, when it will be decided “whether we should undertake any further service modifications as a result of our ‘after-study,’” he said.

In better days, the BBB bragged about the Tide Shuttle. It was stable, and an electric-vehicle service to boot, carrying riders to Main Street and its many “Sustainable Quality Award Winning Businesses,” officials said in one assessment.

But by the time it finally met the ax, Tide Ride averaged only 12 riders an hour, or less than half capacity. BBB wanted to reroute the shuttles for summer visitors to the Annenberg Beach Club at 415 Pacific Coast Highway, slated to open that spring.

The Great Recession still rippled throughout California then, and the BBB was losing $3.5 in state funds as Sacramento tried to close a $41- million budget gap. In fact, the City Council had already made other BBB cuts.

An attempt by Downtown businesses to halt the Tide Ride ax failed. BBB officials had warned routes with bigger and increasing ridership would suffer service cuts if the Tide Shuttle wasn’t sacrificed.

Meanwhile, the Topanga Beach Bus Service from Woodland Hills is extending its old run beyond Labor Day to include the whole year, City officials said.

The bus service originates at the transit station at Warner Center in Woodland Hills and reaches the Santa Monica Pier via Topanga Canyon, she said.

Previously, it ended at Labor Day. Now it is running three times a day the rest of the year. It is $1 dollar or 50 cents for riders over 60 years of age and the disabled.

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