The public transportation debacle caused by the powers that be at the Big Blue Bus during the late afternoon and early evening hours of last Saturday’s GLOW event cannot go unremarked and uncriticized.
In pursuing its sustainable and paperless objectives, Big Blue Bus officials provided no advanced printed announcements, advisories or guidance of any kind on its buses regarding its intention to redirect and truncate its routes away from the Downtown Santa Monica grid and away from certain neighborhoods. Further, the Big Blue Bus generally failed to provide printed notification on its Downtown sign posts.
If Big Blue Bus officials wrote “The Wizard of Oz,” the Scarecrow would be lamenting, “If only I had sustainability,” because in Santa Monica paper is unarguably valued more than brains. Anyone with brains at the Big Blue Bus, anyone at all with a modicum of practical judgment, would have recognized the vast potential for not just inconveniencing its ridership, but for stranding its residents, visitors and tourists. Abandoned Big Blue Bus riders could only access police officers with transit questions since they were the most conspicuous representatives of Santa Monica. Unfortunately, Big Blue Bus officials neglected to disclose public transit changes to the police, not even paperlessly, so the SMPD was as uniformed as the public.
No matter how noble going green is as a concept, when going green conflicts with well-disseminated information, disseminate the information even if, horror of horrors, it means using paper and lots of it. That applies to events like GLOW and to the simple availability of printed bus schedules. Printed bus schedules are so rare now I’m sure someone is setting up a business on eBay to sell them.
People still rely on printed information on paper as Kevin Herrera and the staff of the Santa Monica Daily Press can affirm. There is no way of tallying the number of people who were stranded in the Downtown grid and for how long, but the lunacy of sustainable, not-printed information policies probably stranded hundreds, including seniors on canes and walkers, severely disabled people, parents with toddlers in strollers, children and teens out on their own, UCLA students not necessarily familiar with Santa Monica, tourists pressed to get back to LAX and people who shopped Downtown stuck with packages and bags they thought they could carry home on the bus.
Finally, in the name of sustainability, Big Blue Bus officials are trying to pursue a backdoor fare increase by eliminating paper transfers (“Big Blue Bus considers eliminating transfers, introducing smartcards,” Sept. 26). I want to pass along this bit of wisdom: Sustainability might very well prevent damage to the environment, but when sustainability is not tempered with the way people realistically go about their lives, the fanatical pursuit of sustainability damages people’s lives. Just be forthright. Say you want a fare increase. Don’t use sustainability as a cover.