CITYWIDE —You’re going to need some more quarters if your commute includes a transfer from one Big Blue Bus to another.

Big Blue Bus is eliminating transfers from one bus to another. Transfers to Culver City or Metro buses will still be sold. (File photo)

Big Blue Bus is eliminating transfers from one bus to another. Transfers to Culver City or Metro buses will still be sold. (File photo)

Starting Jan. 1, the local transfer rate of 50 cents disappears. All rides will cost a buck (50 cents for the senior, disabled, and Medicare fares). Interagency transfers, like those to and from Metro, are unaffected by the change.

Less than 5 percent of all annual rides are transfers, BBB spokesperson Suja Lowenthal said, but the total projected annual revenue increase is $325,000.

It cost $90,000 just to print the paper transfer tickets, Transit Director Ed King said earlier this year.

Of the 12 people waiting for buses with whom the Daily Press spoke, two were concerned with the eliminated discount.

“It sucks,” said Nadine McGregor, who was waiting for Line 7 on Lincoln and Pico boulevards. “I buy a transfer everytime I ride the bus, which is everyday.”

She needs to ride the bus, she said, so she’ll probably just pay the difference.

Chailen August and Mikhail Brown, sophomores at Santa Monica High School, said the change wouldn’t impact them.

“I live in Inglewood so I transfer from the Metro bus everyday,” he said. “It’s not a big deal. I do know people who transfer coming from Venice. They’ll probably just pay the fees.”

Ripta Pasay, who was waiting for a bus on Santa Monica Boulevard, lives and works in Santa Monica and takes four buses a day. He’s got a monthly pass, for which he pays $60. It encourages him to ride the bus more frequently, he said.

One woman said the only time she transfers is when she’s going to LAX. The transfer increase will mean a couple extra bucks a year and the base rate is very reasonable, she said.

BBB officials have gotten a couple complaints since they started publicizing the fare change more heavily over the past few weeks.

“It’s a very personal thing,” Lowenthal said. “To the person who is using the local transfers, if they are only making one round trip a day, that’s an impact of a dollar round trip. For that person, it’s a big deal. Again we know percentage-wise it’s not a large percentage of the ridership that it impacts.”

For the commuter making one local transfer to and from work, it’s an annual increase of about $250.

BBB hopes that riders will start buying the $4 day pass. Day passes can be purchased on the bus.

The discounted day pass costs only $1.50, so the transfer fare increase (from 25 to 50 cents) has no impact on round-trip fares. Only 12 percent of all transfers are made by riders eligible for discounted fares, Lowenthal said.

Some riders will likely make changes to their routes, she said, finding ways to avoid making transfers.

All the extra cash will be put into boosting service on other lines, she said. Line 7, Line 3, and routes to Santa Monica College are at the top of the list for improved service.

BBB service is highly subsidized. Finding the balance between affordable and quality service is the challenge, Lowenthal said.

“We want to maintain the dollar fare right now,” she said. “It becomes difficult to do when it’s heavily subsidized in that way, when we have state-of-the-art vehicles that are required to have state-of-the-art fuel efficiency capabilities and all those things end up making it more and more difficult to continue to give services away.”

 

dave@smdp.com

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