Big Blue Bus

A medical marijuana ordinance will be the main discussion during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. Before the councilmembers discuss pot, however, they have to get through the consent calendar. This week it includes everything from palm trees to leaky roofs at the airport, as well as some changes coming to the Big Blue Bus.


BBB urges TAP card discount

Big Blue Bus is looking to tweak consumer behavior by restructuring some of their fares. The BBB proposes changing the TAP stored value for a single ride from $1.25 to $1.10 to discourage the use of cash on the bus. “The shift would reduce the time-consuming process of cash boarding, reduce dwell time, and speed up bus service,” promises a staff report on the matter.

Staff wants to reduce cash transactions from 44 percent of trips to just fifteen percent. It takes a rider 23 seconds to pay for the bus in cash versus just four seconds to swipe a tap card. The BBB argues faster buses are also cheaper – reducing the operating cost by about 55 cents per customer per ride. Customer surveys show the excessive time it takes to travel by bus is the number one complaint about the BBB.

The restructure would also include the introduction of a $500 unlimited ride pass. BBB will market the pass to employers who subsidize public transit costs for their workers. The pass will also be available to the general public. If the Council approves, new fares would be effective Nov. 25 this year.

Staff predicts the fare changes would reduce short term revenue by about $697,000, according to the staff report. However, the BBB hopes increased ridership will offset at least a portion of the cost. Staff promises to monitor the effects of the changes and report back to Council in 12 months.


Palisades Park Palms

Some of Santa Monica’s most iconic palm trees have come under threat during the last decade – in fact one in four of the Canary Island date palms in the colonnade along the cliff has died from a contagious fungal disease. In its heyday the colonnade had nearly 200 Canary palms. The disease is untreatable and nearly always fatal once a plant is infected. The City says better pruning methods have slowed the spread of the disease in recent years.

In order to bolster the population, the City plans to plant up to 56 new palms from a variety of species that are resistant to vascular wilt disease. The new palms will be about ten feet tall when planted and include Date palms, California fan palms and Washingtonia hybrid. B&B Nurseries has bid to supply the trees for $221,297.


Roof Repair at the Airport

Whiles residents grabbed umbrellas tenants at the Santa Monica Airport apparently grabbed buckets, as last January’s heavy rains revealed leaky roofs across the City’s 600,000 square feet of space. A staff report estimates 75 percent of the hangars and office space at SMO are affected by leaking roofs that still haven’t been fixed. The City will either apply elastomeric acrylic coating or completely replace the existing roofs. Staff is asking the Council to approve about $2 million for the repair work. The bid will go to Best Contracting Services, Inc, which is providing a 20 year warranty for materials and labor.

The money will come from the Airport Fund which has seen increasing revenue in the past two years, going from $5.8 million in annual rent revenue to more than $13 million.



Kate Cagle

Senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press