Big Blue Bus spares SMC students from fee increase

With the current economic slump, cities are doing what they can to keep afloat. Among problems local governments are facing, transportation costs are increasing and less money is readily available. Cities across the nation are raising transportation costs, and Santa Monica is no exception. Big Blue Bus plans on raising fares but has, for the time, elected to exempt Santa Monica College students from price increases.

For the past several semesters, taking the Big Blue Bus has been easily accessible for SMC students and faculty. The "Any line, any time" program, established in 2007, allows students to ride free, provided they show their student ID card with the current AS sticker in place.

The BBB will raise its fare by 25 cents in the fall of 2010 in order to maintain their services, keeping the same amount of busses running and ensuring a short period of wait time between busses.

Even though the prices will be raised, there is some indication from a recent community meeting that riders are fine with paying more to keep the same level of service.

Big Blue Bus customer manager, Dan Dawson, said that most transit services in the LA area stop running relatively early, but explained that the Big Blue Bus runs later, some lines going until 10 p.m. "It feels like a valuable service to have buses running longer than average busses," said Dawson.

BBB works with SMC to estimate the number of student and faculty riders per year. With this estimated number, the school pays BBB $1.2 million annually to allow students to ride without charge.

The price increase, which was to be implemented August 29 of this year, was temporarily postponed, according to Dawson.

According to the American Public Transportation Association, more than 80 transportation systems across the country are being forced to raise fares due to both local and state budget cuts.