CITY HALL — All Big Blue Buses are frequently late, data used by public transit officials to evaluate routes shows.
The performance indexes were released at the last City Council meeting as part of BBB’s effort to inform the public about how decisions to increase or cut service on routes are made. BBB staff now plans to publish the data, which they had been using internally, on a quarterly basis.
None of the bus routes are meeting the industry standard of 85 percent punctuality. Only one route, the 41, is on time even 80 percent of the time. Several of the routes are late more often than on time.
Councilman Ted Winterer told Big Blue Bus director Ed King that the on-time performance “needs work.”
“We hear from a lot of people that if we had more reliable and timely service, we’d get an increase in ridership,” Winterer said.
“We absolutely understand that we are woefully inadequate in on-time performance,” King responded. “And that needs to be raised to industry standards.”
King pointed out that BBB has begun to address the tardiness by making adjustments to two popular lines, the 7 and 3 (and their Rapid counterparts). In June, BBB increased the frequency of the 7 from every 15 minutes to every 12 minutes. In August, they added more midday Rapid 3 buses to avoid overcrowding.
The top three most popular routes are the 7, 1 and 3.
The 7, which runs along Pico Boulevard between Downtown and the Rimpau Transit Center, took in more than 700,000 passengers between April 1 and June 30 and is late about 30 percent of the time.
The 3, which runs along Lincoln Boulevard and Montana Avenue between LAX and UCLA, and the 1, which runs along Santa Monica Boulevard and Main Street between UCLA and Venice, carry almost as many riders as the 7 and are late more frequently.
On average, City Hall pays $1.85 per rider. The buses make back about a quarter of their cost to the city.
The 7, and three other routes, recouped about a third of their operating cost, according to the BBB report. The 11, which runs between UCLA and Santa Monica College and is being considered for removal, was in the middle of the pack in terms of fare recovery.
It has very low ridership and there are numerous alternate ways to get from SMC to UCLA, said Linda Gamberg, BBB community relations officer.
Low ridership is not the sole reason a route is discontinued, Gamberg explained.
She compared the 11 to the 4, which costs more ($4 per rider) to operate, but serves a neighborhood with fewer transit options.
“The 4 ridership has been low for quite a while,” she said. “But we’ve kept it in service, basically because it’s the only service through some of the neighborhoods north of Montana.”
Overcrowding was not a significant issue during the evaluated quarter. When buses are filled to 130 percent of seated capacity for sustained periods of time, BBB considers it a problem. None of the buses reached that mark during the quarter. Seven of the 20 routes did have sustained periods when there were more passengers than seats, according to the report.
The 7 was the most crowded route, with the 4 and the 20, which runs between Downtown and the Culver City Expo Line, being the least crowded.