Last week, an article mentioned that the City Council “honed in on freebies given to those that live outside of Santa Monica” in an attempt to deal with a potential $29 million deficit (“City Hall considers targeting non-residents to close budget gap,” Jan. 24).
I’m wondering whether one of the freebies being looked at is the huge freebie given to Santa Monica College students, namely unlimited free rides on the Big Blue Bus. The vast majority of SMC students live outside the city of Santa Monica, and the subsidy is enormous.
A document on SMC’s website summarizing student demographics includes the following:
“7,500 students use the Big Blue Bus every day. That’s half of our daily population!”
Since a BBB round trip costs the rest of us at least $2 ($3 if the trip involves a transfer, and even more if the trip involves the Rapid 10 line), let’s do the math: 7,500 students, times five days per week, times 40 (perhaps more than 40) weeks of classes per year, means that the residents of Santa Monica are subsidizing these students to the tune of at least $3 million per year, maybe more.
With a large deficit looming, why is our city handing out several million bucks worth of free bus rides every year?
[Editor’s note: The “any line, any time” program costs SMC a fixed annual amount of $1,219,480, according to a city staff report from June of last year when the contract was renewed.]