DOWNTOWN — The few people who use the Downtown and Beach rides to travel to the Civic Center and Annenberg Community Beach house will have to find another way to get around next month.
The Big Blue Bus plans to no longer operate the two routes in June after a study found that ridership was well below the average for other routes, according to a report to the Santa Monica City Council.
Ridership on the Downtown Ride, a parking shuttle that has operated since August 2011 to provide monthly parking pass holders free trips to and from the Civic Center, was clocked at just 2.7 passengers per hour, ranking as the least productive service in the BBB system. By comparison, the average ridership per hour in the system is 39.
At an annual operating cost of $210,000, transit officials felt money could be better spent elsewhere, especially since the Downtown Ride uses a fairly similar route to lines 2, 3, 7, 8 and 9. Parking pass holders will still be able to use those lines for free through 2014. Officials said almost 50 percent of the current parking pass holders have used those routes over the last seven months.
The Beach Ride, which was sponsored by BBB and the Department of Community and Cultural Services, actually saw ridership drop by 30 percent in 2011, with 2.14 riders per hour. The shuttle operated on different days and along different routes in June, July and August for approximately seven hours a day. Despite testing several routes and schedules, ridership never picked up. Last summer only 146 people hopped on board.
The changes are part of an overhaul based on an analysis of ridership, BBB officials said.
Other routes to be impacted by the changes include 5, 12, Super 12, Crosstown Ride and the Sunset Ride. Officials said the changes were made following a series of five public meetings held throughout the service area in March, August and September of 2011.
A major reason for the changes is to better link up with the Culver City Expo Light Rail Line station at Venice and Robertson boulevards, and to cut down on redundancy.
Route 5, which currently operates between Downtown and the Rimpau Transit Center via Olympic and Pico boulevards, will be realigned once it hits Pico and Robertson. It will use Robertson instead of Pico and connect with the Expo Line and not the transit center. Service along Pico to the transit center will continue to be provided by Route 7, Rapid 7 and Route 13.
Route 12 service east of National Boulevard will also terminate at the Expo station in Culver City.
There is no financial impact created by these changes, officials said, and they are expected to help improve service so Line 12 and Super 12 buses arrive on time, something which occurs only 60 percent of the time.
Crosstown and Sunset Rides will undergo minor changes, with more running time being added to the Crosstown schedule so that it hits stops every 20 minutes. Sunset Ride hours will be reduced to coincide with a drop in ridership when Santa Monica College starts its summer session.
And to be a better neighbor to those living in and around UCLA, the BBB has agreed to pick up passengers at the Ackerman Transit Terminal instead of the Hilgard Transit Terminal after 8 p.m. on weekdays. The terminals are located less than half a mile apart. Apparently some neighbors were concerned about the noise.
Routes 1, 2, 8 and 12, will continue to serve both terminals from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays. Weekend service will not change.
The service changes are expected to go into effect June 17.
BBB officials are currently examining more changes to service, particularly for Routes 1, 2, and Rapid 10. Public hearings are currently being held.
For more information on the route changes, and to learn more about the BBB, go www.bigbluebus.com