A Big Blue Bus sits at the corner of Fourth Street and Arizona Avenue on Tuesday. (photo by Daniel Archuleta)

CITYWIDE — If you ride the Big Blue Bus regularly, be prepared Sunday for changes to some of the public transit agency’s most popular lines.

Changes will be made to routes 1, 2, 6, 7, Rapid 7, 10, 11 and 12, and a new “Downtown Ride” will be added to move people from the Civic Center Parking Structure to Santa Monica Boulevard.

Previews of new maps and schedules, including a downloadable “service changes” booklet, can be found at www.bigbluebus.com.

The changes are the result of ridership research the BBB conducted over the past year, said Linda Gamberg, marketing and public information coordinator for the Big Blue Bus.

Upcoming changes will increase seating capacity, decrease travel times along high volume streets and alter existing services that are repetitious, she said.

One of the changes that is taking place is to decrease local service on route 7 and increase Rapid 7 service, Gamberg said.

The decrease should only reduce service between 1 and 4 minutes, depending on the time of day, she said.

“It’s one of those things that aren’t necessarily visible to the rider, but can make a big change for us over the year’s budget,” Gamberg said.

Changes will also be made to expand Rapid service on route 10 and decrease local service.

Some groups are worried that decreases in local service could impact frequent riders.

“We believe that local service should not be on the chopping block when trying to provide Rapid service,” said Espiranza Martinez, lead organizer at the Bus Riders Union, a Los Angeles group that advocates for bus riders.

In fall of 2010, the group filed a complaint with the Federal Transit Authority concerning cuts made by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to local service on existing lines.

“It provides bus service for a lot of elders, people with disabilities, mothers with children, students,” Martinez said of local service.

Gamberg defended the changes to route 7 by stating that over 60 percent of riders already use Rapid stops to board the bus.

The BBB has also tried to make the changes with as much feedback from the community as possible, Gamberg said

Representatives from the BBB reached out to senior centers and to residents with disabilities to customize the proposed routes, said Stacy Rowe with the Santa Monica Senior Center.

Planned changes to routes 1 and 2 were altered after public feedback, Gamberg said.

Originally, route 1 would have been the only BBB route to Venice, and route 2 would have stopped at Pico Boulevard.

“When we took that proposal out to the community last March and April, there were some resident south of Pico who were concerned about the walk to Pico,” Gamberg said.

The BBB’s final proposal compromised to accommodate the senior housing on Fourth Street and run route 2 as far as Hill Street to make sure riders maintained easy access, Gamberg said.

“We thought we were addressing everyone’s concerns, but feedback came back with an alternative proposal,” she said.

Further changes are being considered by the BBB for routes 5, 12 and the Super 12.

The changes will be made to accommodate the upcoming Expo Light Rail system, Gamberg said.

Route 5 will be changed to connect with the Expo station, and route 12 will be changed to help transport riders from the Expo station to Westwood and UCLA, Gamberg said.

“Expo riders can utilize the BBB for their intermodal commutes when it takes more than one transit per rider,” she added.

The proposals for those routes will be presented to the public on the BBB website and in a series of public meetings occurring:

• Saturday, Aug. 27 from 2 p.m. — 4 p.m. at the Main Library, multi-purpose room;

• Tuesday, Aug. 30 from 12 p.m. — 2 p.m. at UCLA, Ackerman Union, Room AU 240;

• Wednesday, Aug. 31 from 6 p.m. — 8 p.m. at the Ken Edwards Center, Room 100A, and;

• Tuesday, Sept. 6 from 6 p.m. — 8 p.m. at the Main Library, multi-purpose room.

The BBB encourages the public to give input on the proposed changes, Gamberg said.

“Feedback is really valuable and helps us maintain more riders,” she said.


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