An out-of-service bus leaves the Big Blue Bus yard on Monday. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@www.smdp.com)

Prices are going up for the Big Blue Bus and officials are holding a public meeting on Sept. 10 to preview changes and hear public feedback.

BBB will host a meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Main Library (601 Santa Monica Blvd.) to update customers on its proposed fare updates and service changes.

According to staff, BBB will be adding 11 percent more service over the next 12 months as part of the Evolution of Blue campaign to provide connections to the upcoming Expo Light Rail Line.

To offset costs and bring some if its products inline with regional averages, the base fare will increase by $0.25 to $1.25 per ride. Express fares increase to $2.50 (50 cent increase), seniors/disabled fares will be unchanged, tokens will increase to $1.25 (25 cent increase), day passes are unchanged, the 13-ride ticket increases to $14 ($2 increase), a 30-day pass goes to $50 ($10 decrease), a youth 30-day pass drops to $38 ($2 decrease), an express 30-day increases to $89 ($9 increase). A new rolling 7-day pass will be available for $14.

According to the staff report, the goal is to incentivize prepaid media and limit the amount of cash transactions as a means of increasing efficiency. Currently, cash customers take an average of 23 seconds to board while prepaid customers take less than 4 seconds.

“Currently, 2 percent of customers use 30-day passes, 2 percent use 13-ride passes, 3 percent use day passes, and 1 percent use tokens,” said the staff report. “These low percentages of current prepaid fare media use are directly attributable to the minimal level of discount currently being offered on most products. The fare restructure presented, herein, will encourage greater use of prepaid fare media through discounting and is expected to contribute to the reduction of cash payment customers to less than 35 percent of all customers.”

According to BBB, the new fare structure will increase prepaid usage, minimize ridership loss by providing pricing options, reduce fare handling, increase boarding time, leave senior/disabled fares unchanged and increase revenue to offset costs related to Expo Plan improvements.

City Council approved the service changes in April of this year. Council adopted their biennial budget in June that included the BBB’s revenue projections and council is expected to hear the item for a third time as part of their consent calendar on October 27. New fares will be implemented on January 10 of 2016.

BBB Government and Community Relations manager Suja Lowenthal said the Sept. 10 event is an opportunity for the public to hear a presentation about the fee structure. She said director of Transit Services, Edward King, will speak about the changes and there will be an opportunity to ask questions about the fare increases toward the end of the meeting. She said residents will also be able to provide written feedback or give input via other methods.

“We’re also looking for folks to provide us input via email, letters, social media … however they wish to communicate, we’d like to hear from them,” she said.

She said current bus riders might have more hands-on experience with the system but everyone is welcome to attend and give feedback.

Residents can find more information about the fare proposal at http://bigbluebus.com.

editor@www.smdp.com

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