Tag: Big Blue Bus

Public Hearings For Big Blue Bus Service Changes

April 16, 2024 ·

Service changes could be coming for the Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica. Photo by Michael Gordon/Shutterstock.

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica will host two public hearings in April to discuss proposed service changes to Big Blue Bus set to be implemented over the next five years. According to a press release from the city of Santa Monica from April 11, Brither Blue is BBB’s strategic service planning initiative wants to adapt to rider needs and travel behavior post-pandemic. The goal is to advance the city’s strategic priority of a Sustainable & Connected community.

Changes proposed under Brighter Blue reflect themes identified through stakeholder focus groups, surveys, and written feedback where riders have consistently emphasized the importance of improved frequency, expanded service hours, and greater connectivity to essential destinations. The Big Blue Bus team is asking the community for input on the following enhancements aimed to make transportation more accessible, convenient, and efficient:

-Increase frequency to 15 minutes or better on a network of key Big Blue Bus routes on major corridors

-Expand service hours to allow for all-day travel on weekdays (5 a.m. – 11 p.m.) and weekends (6 a.m. – 10 p.m.)

-Broaden travel opportunities by introducing weekend service on select weekday-only routes

-Ensure direct access to current and planned Metro Rail D Line, C Line, and K Line stations, and the future LAX People Mover

“We are advancing our engagement process to ensure that future Big Blue Bus service aligns with community needs, promotes greater access to high-quality bus and rail service in our region and attracts new riders to our system,” said Director of Transportation Anuj Gupta. “I am looking forward to implementing what we have heard in order to continue to improve our service to the community.”

Online Public Hearing

-Tuesday, April 16 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

In-Person Public Hearing

-Saturday, April 20 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Virginia Avenue Park, Thelma Terry Building 2200 Virginia Avenue

Community members should review the draft service changes an provide feedback at two public hearings. Each hearing will begin with a brief presentation of the proposed changes followed by a public comment period.

To attend a public hearing, register at brigherbluebbb.com. Anyone not able to attend can provide input via an online survey at https://sur-vey.typeform.com/to/N9oGdT41.

Written comments can be mailed to Big Blue Bus, 1660 7th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401, Attn: Alfredo Torales, Transit Planning and Performance, or by email to brighterblue@santamonica.gov.

Written comments will be accepted between April 15 and May 24. All comments will be carefully reviewed by the Big Blue Bus team, and adjustments may be made to the proposed service changes based on the feedback received.

To arrive at the in-person meeting take Big Blue Bus Route 7 which servces Virginia Avenue Park. For those driving, parking is available in the lot on Pico Boulevard and 23rd Street.

For more details about the proposed service changes and Brighter Blue, visit brigherbluebbb.com.

By Trevor

Transit Safety Officer Program Introduced By Big Blue Bus

February 29, 2024 ·

Photo courtesy of Ant Rozetsky via Unsplash.

SANTA MONICA—On Wednesday, February 28, the city of Santa Monica announced on its website that it is reinforcing safety and security on the Big Blue Bus by deploying transit safety officers across its system next month to ensure a comfortable and welcoming environment for customers and staff.

This initiative is aimed as part of a broader customer service plan aimed to enhance Big Blue Bus safety, convenience, and to ensure there is a Clean & Safe Santa Monica.

According to a press release, the new partnership is in collaboration with the Good Guard Security, which is a national leader in security guard services. Starting March 10, Big Blue Bus will station transit safety officers on high-traffic routes and at select bus stops, where they are needed. The specially trained unarmed officers will make passengers feel comfortable and confident riding Big Blue Bus, and will help:

-Assist riders with navigating the regional bus and rail network

-Provide guidance on Big Blue Bus fares and payment methods

-Address safety and maintenance concerns reported by passengers

-Offer support and resource materials to passengers in need

-Educate riders about Big Blue Bus’s Code of Conduct and ensure adherence

“Big Blue Bus has long maintained an exceptionally clean, safe, and secure system,” said Anuj Gupta, director of Santa Monica Department of Transportation. “We are introducing transit safety officers as another component of our multilayered approach to safety and customer experience, and to provide greater support to our dedicated riders and employees.”

Passengers are asked to report suspicious or inappropriate behavior to a transit safety officer or Big Blue Bus operator, or use Santa Monica 311. In case of emergencies, dialing or texting 911 is recommended.

For more details about Big Blue Bus visit bigbluebus.com.

By Trevor

Big Blue Bus Asking For Community Input To Improve Customer Service

February 28, 2024 ·

Photo courtesy of the city of Santa Monica website.

SANTA MONICA—On February 21, the city of Santa Monica announced in a press release it is reimagining Big Blue Bus, working with community partners to expand access to quicker, more frequent, and reliable transportation in the city and west Los Angeles.

Community members are invited to share feedback on Big Blue Bus service improvements during two public workshops in March as part of the city’s Brighter Blue service planning initiative.

Through Brighter Blue, Big Blue Bus will establish a roadmap for applying system enhancements over the next five years, taking into consideration the following factors:

-Impacts of COVID-19 on current travel patterns and service conditions

-Changes in the region and operating environment

-Big Blue Bus’s ongoing transition to a zero-emission fleet

“It has been nearly 10 years since Big Blue Bus last conducted a planning effort of this scale, and our riders’ needs have shifted drastically during this period,” said Anuj Gupta, director of the Santa Monica Department of Transportation. “We encourage current and future riders to take part in this process as we seek to better align our system with post-pandemic travel behavior, promote greater connectivity with built and planned regional transportation projects, enhance first-last mile connections, and improve bus frequency and travel speeds.”

Community members are invited to provide input at two public workshops:

Virtual Workshop

Wednesday, March 6

6-8 p.m.

In-Person Workshop

Thursday, March 7

5:30-7:30 p.m.

Santa Monica Main Library – Multipurpose Room located at 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

To attend a workshop, register at brigherbluebbb.com. Those unable to attend a workshop can provide input via an online survey at sur-vey.typeform.com/brighterblue.

To get to the in-person workshop individuals can take the Big Blue Bus Routes 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 18, Rapid 7, and Rapid 10 that serve the Santa Monica Main Library. Parking is available in the library garage (enter on 7th Street, just north of Santa Monica Boulevard).

The Santa Monica Main Library is ADA-accessible. Disability and translation accommodation requests should be made at least three days prior to the meeting by calling (310) 458-1975, ext. 2386. All written materials are available in alternate formats upon request.

For more details about Brighter Blue please visit: brighterbluebbb.com.

By Trevor

Former Big Blue Bus Director Stephanie Negriff Dies

September 27, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica announced on its website on Monday, September 25, that Stephanie Negriff, former director of Big Blue Bus, died earlier this month at the age of 67.

Negriff became the Big Blue Bus director in August 2002, previously served in various capacities, including assistant director of operations, manager of transit development and intergovernmental relations and senior administrative analyst. She retired from Big Blue Bus in 2011, after 25 years of service. Before joining Big Blue Bus, she held roles with transit agencies in the states of Texas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

“Stephanie was a visionary leader who helped establish a bedrock of enduring programs and services that continue to support our community’s transportation needs,” said Anuj Gupta, Interim Director of Santa Monica’s Department of Transportation. “She led with care and compassion for Big Blue Bus staff and customers, and embodied the agency’s values of teamwork, community service, integrity, innovation, and continuous improvement. She will be greatly missed.”

As the director of Big Blue Bus, Negriff’s responsibilities included the creation of Downtown Santa Monica’s Transit Mall, the implementation of two bus rapid transit lines, and the completion of the Big Blue Bus campus expansion project. She oversaw development of an award-winning, state-of-the-art bus maintenance facility, and the implementation of student and regional fare programs through innovative partnerships with Santa Monica College, UCLA, and LA Metro.

She helped guide Big Blue Bus’s transition to a clean energy fleet, which included gas/electric hybrid, biodiesel, and compressed natural gas vehicles. She helped in negotiating funding policies for the distribution of Prop C, Measure R and other regional transportation formula programs, to ensure economic sustainability for Big Blue Bus and other municipal transit systems in Los Angeles County.

The Big Blue Bus won the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award in 2011 while Stephanie was the director and she was named APTA Outstanding Public Transit Manager. Her funeral will be held on Friday, September 30 at 10 a.m. at Chapel of the Gardens, Mountain View Mortuary, 2300 N. Marengo Avenue in Altadena. Her family is requesting donations be made in Negriff’s name to the Westside Family Health Center, where she served on the Board of Directors until her passing. She is survived by her husband, Larry, stepchildren Sonya and Liza, and one grandchild.

By Trevor

City Tests The Use Of AI To Detect Parking Violations

July 17, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—Santa Monica is the latest city to test the use of artificial intelligence camera technology to enforce parking laws. The city’s latest innovation is allowing buses themselves to write tickets instantly for parked cars in the way of bus lanes.

Santa Monica’s Big Blue Buses has worked with Hayden AI on a 45-day pilot program that utilized cameras to detect and identify vehicles that were parked illegally. During the pilot program, the AI system identified more than 500 potential violations.

While buses are on their routes, these cameras capture license plates of cars that are illegally parked or stopped in a designated bus lane.

The cameras are installed on the windshield that capture anything occurring ahead in the bus lane. Information the cameras capture is sent to a computer box inside the bus which allows AI to assess what’s happening in the photos. The cameras are accurate within 10 centimeters, and they can determine if a car is moving or stopped. The system can flag cars that make violations can issues tickets in real time.

In 2022, the bus system provided 7.7. million trips but many were delayed due to cars parked improperly or cars stopped in bus lanes.

There are a growing number of cities who are exploring the use of AI cameras to find parking violations and issue tickets immediately to the offender. Buses in New York City are already equipped with these AI cameras. Officials plan on installing them in Washington DC soon.

Santa Monica hasn’t determined if they will officially implement the technology.

By Christianne

Big Blue Buses To See Upgrades Throughout 2023

July 17, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The City of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus is upgrading communications and GPS technology to provide “more reliable and efficient” rides, according to an announcement by the bus service made on July 12.

By 2024, a new communication system on all Big Blue Buses will allow dispatchers to track buses and communicate with operators through voice and text messages should any disruptions occur en route. 

GPS location data on Big Blue Buses will also be updated to reflect more accurate bus arrival times on electronic bus stop signs and in apps like Transit and Google Maps. GPS location data updates every 45 seconds with the current technology, but with the upgrades it will update every 10 seconds. 

Monitors on Big Blue Buses will also reflect more accurate information regarding upcoming stops and arrival times as well as destination, detours, and weather information. 

In the meantime, riders can expect incorrect or missing display information on buses and signage while the upgrades continue to roll out.

On July 13, a pilot of the new upgrades was employed through a small fleet of buses equipped with the new communications system as part of a four-week testing period. These buses will provide service on Routes 3, 7, 8, 9 & 41, and Rapids 7 & 12.

According to Big Blue Bus, while testing is being conducted, riders may experience:

  • onboard audio announcements that are mistimed or include incorrect and/or mispronounced bus stops and destinations 
  • Incorrect route or destination information displayed on electronic bus signs
  • Missing or inaccurate real-time bus arrival predictions for select stops 

Questions or comments about the communications system upgrade can be directed to the City of Santa Monica at  santamonica.gov/311

By Paige Strickland

Big Blue Bus Receives $22.9 Million State Grant

May 2, 2023 ·

SANTA MONICA—The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) announced that Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus (BBB) will receive a $22.9 million grant to purchase 5 battery electric buses (BEBs) and develop infrastructure to support on-site charging for more than 100 buses.

The city of Santa Monica indicated in a press release from April 27 that the BBB is one of 28 transit agencies in the state to be awarded grant funding through CalSTA’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP). It is part of a multiyear investment to improve the state’s transit system to support transportation equity, improve service and mobility options, and reduce overdependence on driving.

Funding will help BBB complete Phases 2 through 4 of its Fleet Electrification Master Plan, which outlines the agency’s fleet transition from renewable natural gas to zero-emission by 2030. It will support electric utility and charging equipment upgrades at BBB’s depot, including construction of a large canopy with overhead reel charging dispensers. The grant will allow BBB to create green jobs, provide over 1,100 hours of advanced, high-voltage safety training for its staff in partnership with the California Transit Training Consortium, and improve transportation outcomes for marginalized communities impacted by climate change.

The Big Blue Bus will use TIRCP funds to enhance the customer experience, by purchasing and deploying 5 BEBs on Route 3 and Rapid 3, as part of a comprehensive plan to reimagine service along the Lincoln Boulevard corridor, between Downtown Santa Monica and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Route 3 and Rapid 3 will be rerouted to connect to both the Metro Rail K Line and the LAX People Mover, when the new LAX/Metro Transit Center is completed in 2024.

An additional mile of bus lanes will be implemented on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice during peak hours, and BBB will add 11,500 service hours annually on Route 3 and Rapid 3, to increase frequency to every 10 minutes during the day.

“This is a landmark moment for Big Blue Bus and the City of Santa Monica in our collective efforts to realize carbon emission reduction goals; provide frequent, sustainable, and equitable transit service to low-income and disadvantaged communities; and strengthen the region’s transportation network,” said Ed King, Director of Santa Monica’s Department of Transportation. “The funds will be used to make substantial investments in climate and workforce resilience, as well as capital improvement projects that increase ridership and improve the customer experience on our system.”

As part of Phase 1 of the Fleet Electrification Master Plan, BBB installed 20 standalone chargers at its depot and purchased 19 BEBs. In February 2023, the Santa Monica City Council approved BBB’s request to purchase 15 additional BEBs. Funds received from CalSTA’s TIRCP will elevate the agency’s number of zero-emission buses to 39, and support the construction of infrastructure capable of charging up to 104 buses at its depot.

TIRCP provides grants from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, to fund transformative capital improvements that modernize California’s transportation systems and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, vehicle miles traveled, and congestion.

By Casey