I have to say something about the poor service that has become the Big Blue Bus. I have been a public transit supporter since I was a kid. I started riding streetcars and buses in 1950. There was a time when motormen, conductors and bus drivers were courteous to all the passengers who rode the cars and buses. I know that times have changed. But there is something wrong with the way the Big Blue Bus system is managed.

I ride the No. 5 line at least once a week. It used to have 15-minute service; it now has 30-minute service. Two times in the last three months, the bus that departs the Expo line terminal was a no-show. Both times it was the same schedule that I was waiting for, the 2:10 departure for Santa Monica.

The first time a few months ago, on a very hot afternoon, the 2:10 bus was a no-show. All the while, several passengers (one with a small baby) and myself waited for the bus to show up. We watched as several No. 12 line buses came and went. After about 45 minutes, I knocked on the door of one of the No. 12 buses laying over; the driver sitting in the air-conditioned bus would not even acknowledge my presence. I went to the bus behind him and went out to the street, knocked on the driver’s window asking if he could call the dispatcher and find out what was going on. The driver opened the window and said, “I don’t know nothing about that,” and slammed the window closed. Finally, about 10 minutes to 3 p.m., the No. 5 bus pulled up and we were finally on our way.

This exact same thing happened March 24. Three No. 12 buses departed, two more dead-heading not-in-service buses also left the terminal – and no No. 5 bus. Again, finally, at about 2:53 p.m., the 2:50 No. 5 bus pulled up to the stop. The driver gets out, goes across the street to Del Taco for 6 or 7 minutes, comes back and finally we departed at 3:02. I asked the driver what happened to her leader, but she just ignored me and did not say a thing. She could not be bothered – so typical of many (but not all) Big Blue Bus drivers.

All the buses have phones on board. There is no reason that a bus should be missing out of the rotation on a line with 30-minute service. If a No. 7 bus brakes down, no problem — another comes along in just a few minutes. But on a line with 30-minute service, a no-show means some passengers are almost an hour. If a transit system cannot provide the traveling public with decent service, then there is something very wrong and there needs to be a change somewhere.

Ralph Cantos
Los Angeles

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