To keep up with the incoming Expo light-rail line, Big Blue Bus wants to boost its service hours by 11 percent.

The augmented service will necessitate a fare hike starting in January, BBB officials said in a report to City Council this week. Regular fares would jump a quarter, from $1 to $1.25. Fares for seniors and riders with disabilities wouldn’t be impacted.

“BBB’s new proposed cash fare, $1.25, is still one of the lowest in the County as most Municipal Operators are at $1.35 – $1.50, and much lower than Metro’s cash fare of $1.75,” BBB officials told council. “Senior and Disabled fares would be unchanged at $.50 and BBB passes would be increased incrementally.”

BBB is projecting a 4-percent increase in passenger revenue with the coming of Expo.

Plans for the fare increase and route changes were scheduled to be presented to council on Tuesday, but city officials are asking council to push it back to April 28 becaues a significant item pertaining to the future of the Santa Monica Airport is scheduled for that night.

Last year, BBB eliminated discounted transfer fares and integrated with Los Angeles County’s TAP card system, which allows riders to keep their fare money on a card rather than trying to jam rumpled dollar bills into a finicky cash accepter while fellow riders wait to board with rolling eyes.

Previously, transfers cost 50 cents.

BBB’s grand plan will create more north-south service to complement the east-west light rail. They’re eliminating redundant routes and stops covered by other transit systems. First- and last-mile connectivity will become a focus.

Additionally, BBB promised to keep local passengers in mind — a concern that some council members shared at a meeting about BBB changes in December.

Many of the plans are similar to those proposed in December. Initially, the fare increase was proposed for July 2016, but that has moved up to January in the recent report because the jump in annual revenue service hours was proposed at 9 percent and is now proposed at 11 percent.

“Based on feedback from the Council, staff adjusted the plan by revising three of the routes presented to Council in the December 2014 presentation,” BBB officials said. “In addition, one other route was adjusted based on stakeholder comments received after the December 16th presentation.”

Route 16 is now proposed to extend in order to connect with Route 3 on Lincoln Boulevard.

Route 18 was altered slightly and could add service until 9:30 p.m.

Route 43 will have expanded afternoon and evening hours.

Route 44 will run every 15 minutes during the school year, rather than the previously proposed 20 minutes, thanks to feedback from Santa Monica College. It’ll run every half hour in the summers.

Services changes would go into effect in August or September — though that could be pushed back if the item is heard later in the year — and BBB would finish a follow-up study at the end of 2017.

dave@www.smdp.com

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