DOWNTOWN — Seniors who have become accustomed to purchasing 13-ride passes for the Big Blue Bus will have to wait a few weeks to buy more due to a shortage created by high demand, transit officials said.

The bus company ran out of the passes “a couple of days ago” and is in the process of ordering more, said Dan Dawson, customer relations manager for BBB.

“The passes have been hugely successful, beyond our wildest dreams,” Dawson said. “We’re very excited that people have found the passes so user-friendly and customer-oriented, which was the goal. We’re working hard to get new ones as quick as possible.”

Dawson said transit officials ordered enough 13-ride senior passes to satisfy demand based on ridership figures from before the passes were introduced. Demand has been much higher, leading to the shortage.

BBB and other city departments must follow a strict ordering process, first submitting bids, evaluating offers from companies and then creating a purchase order. Dawson said BBB has a company that it knows it can order from, however, the process must be followed.

“We actually have bids out as we speak and hopefully we will get them back in the next couple of days and send out the order,” Dawson said.

Dawson said the 13-ride passes are new, recently created as part of a fare overhaul that included increases for all riders. The 13-ride passes were developed after transit officials listened to riders, some of whom said a monthly pass wouldn’t work for them because they didn’t ride BBB that often but were still looking for a discount. BBB officials came up with the 13-ride pass, which gives regular riders and students one ride for free. The regular/student fare is $1 per ride. The 13-ride passes for regular riders and students cost $12. Seniors pay $6.

At least one rider is upset about the shortage. Dorian Nguyen e-mailed the Daily Press on Tuesday, submitting a poem to express her displeasure:

“Today I learned the hard lesson of our service economy.

There are no pre-board Big Blue Bus ride passes available.

Maybe in six weeks.

Welcome to the Big Blue on Broadway.

We sell T-shirts, towels, mugs.

We don’t sell Big Blue Bus bus passes.

We did not anticipate the demand.

Don’t forget

Ride the Big Blue Bus

But remember to bring 20th century coins.”

Another rider, Louise Steiner, called the Daily Press and said she was not pleased. She plans to ride Metro instead.

“It just seems like a little bit of incompetence,” Steiner said. “The buses are rolling and I think some heads should too.”

Until the 13-ride passes are available, Dawson said seniors can purchase day passes or a monthly pass, depending on how often they ride BBB. A day pass for seniors and the disabled is $1.50 and allows for unlimited rides. A 30-day pass is $24.

kevinh@smdp.com

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