Big Blue Bus will see big changes as soon as this spring

The City of Santa Monica plans to redevelop its existing Big Blue Bus (BBB) transit line. The $6.9 million project budget provided by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) along with stimulus funds will include several upgrades to the current 360 bus stops beginning this spring. Newly renovated bus stops will feature a BBB service map, time-tables displaying busses stopping and a map showing local attractions within walking distance. Canopies will be added to stops and plans also include implementation of a new system for riders to track bus arrival times via the use of an ID number on their cell phone.

In addition, the plan includes the construction of one high-volume stop with 1,000 daily stops and the renovation of four existing shelters where only signage will be changed to match the new stations.

BBB Costumer Relations Manager Dan Dawson noted that bus drivers have been monitoring the number of student riders. When you show your student ID to board the bus, the driver records that a student has boarded "via a special tally key."

After combining the counts from each bus, the BBB is able to accurately estimate the volume of students riding the bus. This method allowed them to allocate appropriate attention and funds efficiently when planning the redevelopment of SMC stops.

Francine Pares, a representative for the BBB, confirmed that SMC will receive high volume stops at the Pico & 16th Street, Pico & 20th Street and Bundy Campus stops and another high-volume stop at the Stewart Street & Exposition Blvd. parking lot. Two more high volume stops will be built at the Madison Campus stop on Santa Monica Blvd. & 11th Street and at the SMC Academy of Entertainment & Technology.

The addition of one high-volume stop will be added on Pico & 18th. Pico & 17th will receive a medium volume stop and Pico & 16th will remain a low volume stop.

High volume stations, including the No. 7 for SMC, will receive extra amenities including extra seating in proportion to the expected higher volume of riders. In compliance with Santa Monica's clean environment initiative, high volume stations will also feature recycling containers and LED lighting powered by solar panels.

Lorcan O´Herlihy Architects (LOHA) was chosen to head the renovations. Individuals from LOHA inspected all 360 Santa Monica bus stops evaluating the volume of traffic at each in order to appropriate the proper allocation of funds to each.

Santa Monica's goals for the newly designed BBB stops are an affirmation of the city's position at the forefront of environmental consciousness. Locally recycled materials will be used for the redevelopment.

The new stops are expected to reduce air pollution and congestion through the utilization of alternate energy and by providing more information for riders. This, in turn allows for higher efficiency and less empty seats. The purpose of the modern designs at the stops is to increase the ambiance of Santa Monica by creating a more inviting stop, encouraging "would be" commuters to use the transit system.