File photo

File photo

CITY HALL— Big Blue Bus is looking to eliminate transfers, introduce smartcards, and remove one route in 2014.

The City Council on Tuesday approved recommendations to hear public comment about the suggested changes.

Currently, local transfers cost 50 cents, half the price of a regular fare. If Big Blue Bus eliminates the transfer, riders will have to pay the regular fare of $1 to change buses.

Last fiscal year, 661,000 transfers were issued but the elimination will impact only 3.8 percent of BBB riders, said Transit Services Director Ed King.

BBB projects an annual increased revenue of $325,000, which they plan to invest in new service. It costs nearly $90,000 just to print the local transfer tickets every year, King said.

The changes will not impact senior or disabled rates, King said. He hopes it will encourage riders to by multi-use passes, like the $4 day pass.

During the public portion of the meeting, Santa Monica resident Kevin Smith urged BBB not to remove transfers.

“I’ve been riding buses for 30 years,” he said. “I’m here to tell you that if you ride the bus just a couple of weeks you’ll see a lot of people who are hard pressed. Eliminating transfers, and making it difficult for those folks, would be wrong.”

Brandy Jennings, of Sherman Oaks, Calif., who was waiting for the Route 3 bus at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Fourth Street with recently purchased Nike and Brandy Melville goods on Thursday afternoon, said she would visit the city less if transfers are removed.

Jennings regularly takes the bus to Santa Monica to shop. Once in the city, she uses the Big Blue Bus to get around.

“It’s basically doubling my prices,” she said. “And if you go every weekend it adds up.”

Jennings said she transfers two to three times every time she visits.

Laurel Gord, of Venice, was also waiting for the Route 3 bus at Santa Monica Boulevard and Fourth Street after attending a class at Emeritus College.

“I’m actually new to the bus because we’re trying out being a one-car family, but we’re right on a Big Blue Bus line. So far I haven’t had to use a transfer,” she said.

BBB is also proposing the removal of Route 11, which runs four times on weekdays between the Santa Monica College and UCLA campuses. There are numerous alternative BBB and Metro routes between the colleges, King said.

On Thursday, The Daily Press went out to the Route 11 bus stop at Pico Boulevard and 16th Street. Many of the students waiting for other bus lines had never heard of the 11, and when the bus pulled up, empty, no one boarded.

A truncated version of Route 44, known as the Sunset Ride, has also been proposed due to the closure of SMC’s Academy of Entertainment and Technology campus for renovations.

Both recommendations passed unanimously with little comment from council.

 

dave@smdp.com