CITYWIDE — Those who ride the Big Blue Bus Line 2 south of Pico Boulevard will no longer be able to do so come Aug. 26.

The City Council on Tuesday voted to shorten the route and eliminate other underutilized and duplicated services to save approximately $275,000 annually at a time when the public bus company is trying to close a projected $5 million structural deficit.

In addition to truncating Route 2, the council also voted in favor of eliminating six Rapid 10 trips that operate between Main and Marine streets and Second Street and Colorado Avenue.

The Downtown Ride, which ferried people from the Civic Center Parking Structure to Downtown and back, was previously eliminated and will make its last runs Sunday for a savings of $210,000 a year.

“In challenging times some difficult decisions have to be made,” said Ed King, director of transit services for City Hall.

The decision to cut Line 2 wasn’t all that difficult given that the section from Pico Boulevard to Hill Street was one of the lowest performing sections of the BBB system with an average of three passengers per bus.

Subdsizing that portion was also becoming expensive, according to the BBB. The subsidy for that short trip was $4.25 per passenger compared to a system-wide subsidy of $1.98.

Residents living on or near Hill Street also complained about the noise the buses created and the danger of having large buses on narrow residential streets.

“If the ridership numbers … were substantial, then we would accept the current route as necessary, but it isn’t and we don’t,” said Hill Street resident Scott Smith. “[I]t seems that buses are traveling faster through our neighborhood because they are empty and drivers don’t have to be cognizant of people standing on the bus … . I think it’s becoming more dangerous.”

The council had considered cutting the route off at Santa Monica High School in May of last year, but after hearing input from some community members about the difficulty of accessing other lines if Route 2 were truncated, the council decided on a compromise and allowed service to continue on to Hill. The council wanted to get an update though to see if that was going to work.

Data showed it isn’t. King said the area south of Pico is already served by Lines 1 and 8, Dial-A-Ride service and paratransit service. Seniors and those with disabilities would be able to access those options to get around town.

“I’m very comfortable with the services we have there,” King said.

Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis said she never likes to cut services and would like to see some expanded to serve more neighborhoods, but with looming budget deficits it made sense to do away with services that were too costly and could take away from other lines.

She said she did not want to be forced to raise fares.

“Last time we did that it was horrific,” she said. “It’s very difficult for us because, of course, we don’t encourage people to ride the bus by raising fares.”

The council vote was unanimous. Councilmembers Bobby Shriver and Pam O’Connor, who serves on the Los Angeles County Metro board, were not present for the vote.

kevinh@smdp.com

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