Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus system has cut some bus routes in an effort to balance its budget and improve service on remaining routes as part of its September service update.

The total reduction in service is small, equating to about a 2 percent decline in total revenue service hours system-wide. Trips with fewer than nine people per revenue hour of service were on the chopping block including routes R3, R10, 5, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 41, 42, and 43. Resources were reinvested in some high-ridership times along some routes (R3, R12, 2, 7, 8, 9, and 15).

According to BBB, two changes are significant for riders including a change in service on the R10.

“Since 2016, Rapid 10 has lost 71% of its pre-Expo Line daily ridership due to the opening of the light rail line, and many trips now operate with less than 10 passengers. These planned Rapid 10 changes will not impact Santa Monica-based commuters,” said the report to council.

“The second change of note is the deviation of Routes 41 and 42 to the Santa Monica College (SMC) Performing Arts Campus on days when SMC is in session. With this detour, SMC will eliminate their shuttle bus running between SMC Main Campus and the Performing Arts Campus, and transfer 200-300 riders per day from the SMC Shuttle onto BBB Routes 41 and 42, thereby increasing sustainability for those routes.”

Routes 41 and 42 are also part of a new pilot program scheduled for 2019 that will eliminate weekend service along the routes (along with routes 5 and 15) and replace bus service with subsidized car service using Lyft. Customers using the service along the routes between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. will pay $2 ($1 for senior/disabled/medicare) for up to $10 in ride value. Rides will be booked via the Lyft app or customers can call BBB in advance if they need a wheelchair accessible van.

The R10 route will also change again in 2019. BBB is considering eliminating all weekday trips on R10 except three downtown LA-bound morning trips at 6:17 a.m., 6:37 a.m., and 6:57 a.m. Three Santa Monica-bound evening trips would be added at 4:55 p.m., 5:25 p.m., and 5:55 p.m.

“Staff also conducted a service equity analysis to ensure that these proposed changes did not result in a disproportionate burden on low-income people, or a disparate impact based on race, color or national origin,” said the report. “The analysis did not show any inequity for the September service change.”

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...

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