A Rapid 7 crosses the Expo tracks by the Big Blue Bus facility at Colorado and 6th Street as a test train approaches. (Photo by Jason Islas/Santa Monica Next)
A Rapid 7 crosses the Expo tracks by the Big Blue Bus facility at Colorado and 6th Street as a test train approaches. (Photo by Jason Islas/Santa Monica Next)

Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus this month will begin the first phase of one of the municipal transit agency’s largest service changes in its 77-year history.

The coming changes, which will occur in three phases over the next 12 months, are designed to better integrate Big Blue Bus routes with the Expo line, which is expected to begin passenger service in the first half of next year.

“Big Blue Bus is embarking on its first of three major service changes to implement its Expo Integration Plan called Evolution of Blue,” said Suja Lowenthal, manager of Government and Community Relations for the Big Blue Bus.

Following an extensive community outreach effort, the Expo integration plan has undergone some revisions since it was first proposed last summer. Once all three phases of the “Evolution of Blue” plan are fully implemented, we will some exciting stuff, like an “Uber-like” on-demand service on the evenings to help get people home from Expo stations and the addition of several new routes.

The first phase of the service realignment begins on August 23, so riders should expect some big — and some not so big — changes, including new weekend service on the Rapid 3 (DTSM to LAX via Lincoln Boulevard) and the Rapid 7 (DTSM to the Wilshire/Western Purple Line station via Pico), extension of Route 14 (Bundy Drive) to Playa Vista; and the addition of a new line, Route 15 (Brentwood to the future Bundy Expo line station via Barrington).

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“We are also investing seven new articulated buses on the rapid routes to ease over-crowding. In addition there will be new weekend service on Rapid 7 as well as improved frequency on weekdays on this route,” said Lowenthal. She added that the Route 14 extension to Playa Vista is “of particular note”because the service will be of great use to residents and visitors of the growing new residential and economic development hot spot.”

Since Big Blue Bus is working with limited resources, the new service will require eliminating some of the agency’s redundant and underperforming routes.

Along with Route 6 (SMC Commuter), the Rapid 20 (DTSM to Expo Culver City station) and Route 13 (Westside Pavilion to Pico Rimpau Station via Cheviot Hills) will also be eliminated. If a line runs through Downtown Santa Monica, it will likely see its route adjusted slightly.

Other routes will be affected by the upcoming August 23 changes, though much less dramatically. For more details about the changes, click on each route number.

  • Route 1 (UCLA to Venice via Santa Monica Blvd. and Main St.) will see some minor schedule adjustments and the elimination of a couple of stops.
  • Route 2 (Santa Monica Civic Center to UCLA via Wilshire Blvd.) will also see its schedule tweaked and the addition of a couple stops to replace existing stops slated for removal.
  • Route 3 (local service to LAX via Lincoln Blvd.) will begin running every 20 minutes most of the day and every 30 minutes during late-night and early-morning service. The Rapid 3 serves much of the same route and is usually much faster.
  • Route 3M (DTSM to UCLA via Montana Ave.) only has a few schedule adjustments and will be losing a couple stops.
  • Route 4 (DTSM to Westside Pavilion via San Vincente Blvd. and Carlyle Ave.) will no longer run on the weekends, but you can check out alternatives by clicking on the route numbers.
  • Route 5 (DTSM to Expo Culver City station via Olympic Blvd.) will see some major changes. It will no longer travel east of Century City. Instead, it will terminate at the future Expo Century City/Palms station. As a result, there is a whole slew of new stops. Plus, there will be morning and afternoon limited-stop service.
  • Route 7 (DTSM to Pico Rimpau station via Pico Blvd.) will run every 20 minutes and every 30 minutes during off-peak hours. For faster trips and much shorter wait times, ride the Rapid 7.
  • Route 8 (DTSM to UCLA via Ocean Park Blvd.) will see some minor changes, including the addition of new stops and the removal of some existing stops.
  • Route 9 (Santa Monica to Pacific Palisades) will get some schedule changes and some new stops to replace the existing stops that will be removed.
  • Rapid 10 (Express to Downtown L.A.) will see some minor schedule changes.
  • Route 12 (Expo Culver City station to UCLA via Westwood Blvd.) will lose a couple stops while Rapid 12 will lose one late morning northbound trip.
  • Route 41 (Crosstown Ride) is getting a name change. It is also losing a couple trips and a stop.
  • Route 44 (SMC Campus Connector) will also get a few changes to its schedule.

Big Blue Bus Director Ed King was recently on CityTV to talk about the forthcoming changes. You can watch what he has to say here: