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Big Blue Bus Begins Expo Integration Service Overhaul this Month

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).

“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.

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:

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