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What We Learned from Santa Monica Big Blue Bus’ First Reddit AMA

Big Blue Bus officials answer customer questions during the transit agency's first-ever Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session.
Big Blue Bus officials answer customer questions during the transit agency’s first-ever Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session.

Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus officials gathered in a small conference room Tuesday at noon for the transit agency’s first ever Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session and they invited Santa Monica Next to join them.

With the Big Blue Bus planning to roll out its new TAP (Transit Access Pass) card payment system in March, the online Q&A session gave Big Blue Bus customers a chance to ask officials directly about how the new system will work, among other issues like when the transit agency plans on getting realtime arrival information. (Answer: Summer 2015)

You can see the whole AMA here — there are about 76 comments — but we wanted to highlight some of the more pressing questions and answers below. The usernames below link to the original threads in which they asked the questions.

On TAP Fares

LosAngelesBikes: “For those of us who are primarily riders of Metro and occasional riders of BBB, will money loaded onto a TAP card at a Metro Purple Line station (for example) be accepted on BBB, or will that TAP credit only be usable for Metro fares?”

smbigbluebus: You can ride any TAP enabled system using stored value on the card -the TAP card will automatically know how much to deduct, based on the cash fares for each system.

On Using TAP Cards for Transfers

Note: This one is a little complicated. BBB and Metro websites both have more detailed information on this topic here and here.

kk3: “Will there be any kind of transfer that works between bus and metro?”

smbigbluebus: “Yes – there have already been interagency transfers (IAT) between BBB and Metro. Right now you can’t use your TAP card and you must pay at the farebox and get a paper transfer. When BBB is TAP enabled, you can buy a tranfer [sic] on Metro using your tap card and BBB will accept the transfer. Please note, if customers start their trip on BBB, they will have to pay cash in the farebox and get a paper transfer (just like now).”

On Future Bus Service to Playa Vista

llewyrr: “Are you planning on expanding any routes into Playa Vista? Also, I know there’s been some discussion on altering the 12. However, the rapid 12 already cuts off the Sepulveda leg, which includes a boatload of UCLA housing. Do you know if there’s still talk of altering this route?”

smbigbluebus: “Yes, BBB is planning service to Playa Vista, subject to City Council Approval. Please see more on our Expo planning page at: http://bigbluebus.com/Newsroom/News/Expo-Integration-Plan-December-11,-2014-Update.aspx Our proposal calls for extending Route 14 into Playa Vista – serving Campus Center Drive. Currently Route 14 ends at Centinella and Culver. We’ll get into more detail if time permits.”

smbigbluebus: “On the Route 12 issue, the current proposed plan is still the same (as previously proposed) with no service along Sepulveda. Might we suggest that you check with the Culver City Bus about any plans they have for future service.”

On TAP Integration with Bike Share

odog4life: “3 questions. The city is on track to get a brand new high tech bike share system (see todays Daily Press Cover) this summer. The bike share bikes come equipped to handle tap card technology. Are you aware of any plans to integrate tap with bike share? Will we get to buy some cool big blue bus themed TAP cards? I am hoping to see the return of the very psychedelic big blue bus cards designs circa 2003.”

smbigbluebus: “Wouldn’t that be great – but not quite yet on the shared TAP and bikeshare. We’ll make sure to mention that to our partners at the city. Yes, super great BBB themed Commemorative TAP cards will be available soon. Thanks for asking!”

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