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City Council Approves Changes to Bus Service  

Jason Islas
Special to the Lookout

May 13, 2011 --The City Council unanimously approved changes to the Big Blue Bus service plan Tuesday, including a controversial change to Line 2.

The changes will take affect later this year in August.

“Our proposal was originally to eliminate the segment of Route 2 south of Pico Boulevard and increase service on Route 1,” Stefanie Negriff, the City’s transit director, told the council.

Negriff noted that community reaction to the original plan was divided.

While bus riders who use the line don’t want to see it cut, residents on Hill Street west of 4th Street complain that the buses are noisy and would like to see them go away.

The revised plan approved Tuesday is a compromise that will keep Line 2 going down Hill Street while getting rid of half of bus traffic there by having the bus loop around to Ocean Park Boulevard on its return trip.

“I have to be hopeful that by eliminating the bus laboring up the hill, we're going to remove a big part of your problem,” Council Member Kevin McKeown told residents at the public hearing.

“I'm going to be willing to try this for a few months and see what happens and I'd love to hear back from you after you've experienced the difference of not having the buses go uphill on your street,” McKeown said.

But not everyone is happy with the plan.

Valerie Griffin, chair of the Wilshire/Montana Neighborhood Coalition, noted that riders who regularly depend on Line 2 to will now have to make an inconvenient transfer to get from Santa Monica to Venice.

“Overall, we are very concerned that routes are being shifted away from neighborhood service and optimized to serve students” when “there are other transit needs that remain unserved,” Griffin said.

Line 2 presently runs between the Wilmont area of Santa Monica and Venice Boulevard in Venice. However the southern half of the line will be cut because it shares much of the same route as Line 1.

Big Blue Bus officials say the change is necessary to help meet its bottom line by reducing duplicated and unnecessary service.

Another controversial change in bus service approved Tuesday is a decrease in the frequency of Local 7 buses on Pico Boulevard for an increase in Rapid 7 buses.

“When you extend the time between buses, like on the Local 7, then the people who are stuck waiting longer are more likely than not to be seniors and those who are mobility impaired,” said Senior Community Commissioner Louisa Fish.

Also, Line 13 in Cheviot Hills, which originally was slated to be eliminated completely will be kept, but will only run hourly because it is underused.

Line 10 will lose several stops in Downtown L.A. and in Santa Monica, east of Yale Avenue.

The council will consider another round of bus service changes in the near future.

Council Members Pam O'Connor, Bob Holbrook and Bobby Shriver were absent from Tuesday’s vote.


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