There’s nothing that instills admiration for your local bus company then when the bus you’ve been waiting for for 20 minutes passes your stop.

I had taken my aging TR-6 into European Exclusives for servicing last Tuesday. My mechanic Juda needed the car for the day, so I headed up to the Big Blue Bus stop at Lincoln Boulevard and Ashland Avenue a little before 8 a.m. to wait for the No. 3 bus to take me to Montana Avenue.

After about 15 minutes the “local” No. 3 (that goes all the way to UCLA, not the No. 3 that terminates at Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue) approaches. “Odd,” I thought. “Why is his front sign flashing “not in service,” when passengers are aboard.

I wave my arms, but bus 4046 rolls by leaving me and an elderly gentleman standing in the chill, damp morning air. So, wait another 15 or 20 minutes? What if that bus also doesn’t stop? It could take an hour to get a bus to Montana Avenue. Sheesh!

Instead of waiting for another bus that also might not stop, I walked home and called Big Blue Bus’ customer service. A nice lady on the phone listened to my story and sympathized with me. I gave her my phone number and asked her to call back and let me know why 4046 didn’t stop. She said she would, but I haven’t heard from her or anyone else at Big Blue.

Granted, No. 3 busses are often packed at that time of the morning — loaded with kids going to Santa Monica High School. I’m sure that someone from BBB will claim 4046 was at capacity and couldn’t take on passengers. However, I watched 4046 roll up Lincoln and stop at Ocean Park Boulevard where it did board passengers.

Leaving patrons at a stop is inexcusable and unacceptable. But, it’s not the first time that I’ve been stranded. If busses are that full, then Big Blue needs to add more busses. It’s bad enough when service on a major line like the No. 3 only runs every 15 minutes during rush hour, once per half-hour, mid-day.

Big Blue is not making any friends or wooing new riders with crappy service. Rather, they’re ticking off and losing existing patrons.

The next time my TR is in for repair, I won’t be waiting for a No. 3. I’ve made other arrangements, because I can no longer rely on Big Blue to pick me up and deliver me in a timely manner.

New Walgreens has neighbors ‘up in arms’

The Santa Monica Police Department has concerns about a new Walgreens proposed for the southeast corner of Pico and Lincoln boulevards.

Sgt. Jay Trisler, the department’s Public Information Officer said, “The Santa Monica Police Department has not taken an official policy on the issue.” But, confirmed to me that permits to sell alcoholic beverages at the location would be a cause for concern.

Retail outlets that desire to sell alcohol including beer and wine and hard liquor (spirits) must obtain a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) from City Hall as well as a California Alcoholic Beverage Control license.

This area is already awash with liquor licenses. A 7-Eleven, a mini-mart, several liquor stores and a bar are all selling alcohol in the immediate area. Additionally, the neighborhood is home to several rehabilitation clinics, a youth center, sober living centers and a high school. Unfortunately, because of the ready availability of alcohol, the area is already frequented by a high number of drunkards and persons involved with illegal drugs and other criminal activity.

The police department provides input on CUPs especially when alcohol or other factors affecting law enforcement are concerned. In the case of alcohol permits, questions about how alcohol sales will contribute to crime and quality of life issues in and around the applicant’s business must be addressed.

In addition to alcohol sales, the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is expected to find that the proposed Walgreens store will cause significant, immitigable impacts on nearby intersections and generate increased traffic on nearby residential streets.

Neighbors are not happy with this project. Raul Saenz e-mailed me that residents are organizing “Walgreens Concerned Citizens” and working with other neighborhood groups to substantially reduce expected traffic increases in the area and prevent or severely restrict alcohol sales.

The Santa Monica Planning Commission is expected to review Walgreens’ proposal next month. Reducing neighborhood traffic impacts and eliminating alcohol sales are proper and necessary conditions for Walgreens’ CUP.

The ‘Taj Mahal’ of libraries?

Tomorrow night, City Council will be reviewing plans for a new 8,300-square-foot branch library in Virginia Avenue Park. Cost: $12.8 million. Cost per square foot: $1,542! Estimated operating costs? $922,359 annually. Umm-umm. That’s going to be some fancy library!

According to Reed Construction Data (through an architect friend), $1,542 sq-ft is more than 10 times the national average cost for building a library. Why so expensive? Inquiring minds want to know.

Bill can be reached at

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