Big Blue Bus

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For other bus operators known as Blue Bus, see Blue Bus (disambiguation).
Big Blue Bus logo.png
SMBBB3876.jpg
Big Blue Bus at UCLA Hilgard Terminal
Slogan Ride Blue. Go Green
Founded 1928
Headquarters Santa Monica, California
Locale Santa Monica, Westwood, and Venice, California
Service area United States
Service type Transit Bus, Bus Rapid Transit
Routes 20
Fleet 240
Daily ridership 56,283 (2005)[1]
Fuel type Diesel, LNG, CNG
Operator City of Santa Monica, California
Website bigbluebus.com

Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines, more commonly known as the Big Blue Bus, is a municipal bus operator in the Westside region of Los Angeles, providing both local and bus rapid transit service in Santa Monica and adjacent neighborhoods of Los Angeles (including LAX). Express service is also provided to Downtown Los Angeles and Union Station.

History[edit]

In 1928, the City of Santa Monica launched their first route. Choosing a blue livery, it was originally called Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines. It kept their base fare at 10 cents for an extensive period of time. The impetus for the creation was a fare increase on the Pacific Electric interurban trains between Santa Monica and Los Angeles. The Santa Monica bus would connect with the Los Angeles Railway streetcars at Pico and Rimpau Boulevards in the Mid-City section of Los Angeles. That historic terminus point has become an important transit center in Los Angeles simply because it is the point where thousands of bus riders along Pico Boulevard must transfer to continue their trips eastward to Downtown Los Angeles or westward to the Westside.

The Big Blue Bus is considered one of the best bus services in the Los Angeles area. The system won the American Public Transportation Association’s Outstanding Transportation System award in 1987, 1992, 1997 and 2000. The Big Blue Bus did not raise its regular fare above 50 cents until 2002, when it became 75 cents. In contrast, most public bus lines in California were charging fares of a dollar or more well before 2000. There was no monthly pass until August 2010[2] except for the EZ Pass, and unlike other EZ Pass agencies, Metrolink fare media are not accepted. Schedules for the buses are also less frequent when compared to some Metro lines (especially the Rapids). However, allowing for the inevitability of traffic delays on weekday afternoons, the Big Blue Bus system provides frequent and convenient service to most neighborhoods in its service area. Many routes serve UCLA.

The Big Blue Bus was one of the last transit agencies using the GMC New Look buses; they were retired in 2005. Big Blue Bus received the last New Looks ever built. The last one ever built, #5180, was driven off the property in May 2013 after being donated to the Museum of Bus Transportation in Hershey, Pennsylvania, which preserves the bus.

For 20 years until Dec. 1999 Santa Monica Bank ran a series of humorous ads on the back of the buses. Examples include "Old and wrinkled is beautiful. Especially in large denominations", "Go invest, young man", "Was it his eyes? His lips? His jumbo CD?" and (the final one) "After 20 years on the bus, we've reached our stop". The campaign ended as the bank was absorbed by U.S. Bank.[3]

The system was started by former Brentwood resident Ruldolph F. Brunner, who later sold the system thinking it wouldn't amount to any more than a few dollars a week.

On November 20, 2012 a Big Blue Bus turned left in front of an oncoming motorcyclist, which resulted in the 25 yr old man's death. The accident occurred at approximately 10:33 am at the triangular intersection of Sunset Blvd and Marquez in the Pacific Palisades. Only buses are allowed to make the left turn - a maneuver that has been determined to be too dangerous for other vehicles.

Some popular destinations[edit]

A Big Blue Bus in Westwood.

Big Blue Bus provides service to the following popular destinations:

  • Century City
  • Downtown Los Angeles
  • Downtown Santa Monica
  • Los Angeles Convention Center
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Metro Expo Line Culver City Station
  • Metro Green Line Aviation Station
  • Metro Purple Line Wilshire/Western Station
  • Rimpau Transit Center
  • Santa Monica Civic Center
  • Santa Monica College
  • Santa Monica Pier/ Pacfic Park
  • UCLA
  • Union Station
  • Venice Beach
  • Will Rogers State Beach

Routes[edit]

As of February 2014, Big Blue Bus operates 17 local routes, 2 Mini Blue routes, and 5 Rapid routes, which includes Rapid 10, a freeway-express route, in Los Angeles County.[4] Among its 17 local routes, Big Blue Bus operates 5 Rapid routes. During its February 2014 service change, the Big Blue Bus discontinued its Line 11 because it was redundant service.

Local & Express[edit]


Route Terminals Via Days of Operation# Notes
1
UCLA Venice
Venice Boulevard and Walgrove Avenue (weekdays)
Santa Monica Boulevard Daily service
(5a-Midnight)
Venice
California Avenue and Frederick Street (weekends)
2
UCLA Santa Monica
Santa Monica City Hall
Wilshire Boulevard Daily service
(6a-11p)
3
UCLA
(Weekdays and Saturdays)
Aviation Station Montana Avenue, Lincoln Boulevard Daily service
(5a-Midnight)
  • Operates alongside the Rapid 3
  • Also serves LAX
Santa Monica
5th and Arizona
Brentwood
San Vicente and Gorham (Sundays and Holidays)
Rapid 3
Santa Monica
4th Street and Wilshire Boulevard
Aviation Station Lincoln Boulevard Weekdays only
(6:10a-8:40p)
4
Santa Monica
Santa Monica City Hall
West LA
Westside Pavilion
San Vicente Boulevard, Carlye Avenue Daily service
(6a-6p)
5
Santa Monica
Arizona Avenue and 5th Street
Expo Culver City Station Broadway, Olympic Boulevard, Robertson Boulevard Daily service
(5:30a-10p)
6
SMC Commuter
Santa Monica College
Main Campus
Palms
Venice Boulevard and Culver Boulevard
Bundy Drive, Centinela Avenue, Palms Boulevard Schooldays peak periods only
(7a-8a,1p-6p to SMC; 1p-5p from SMC)
7
Santa Monica
Santa Monica Place
Mid-City
Pico Boulevard and Rimpau Boulevard
Pico Boulevard Daily service
(4:45a-11:45p)
  • Operates alongside the Rapid 7
Rapid 7
Santa Monica
Broadway and 5th Street
Wilshire/Western Station Pico Boulevard Weekdays only
(5:35a-11:10p)
8
Santa Monica
Santa Monica Place
UCLA Ocean Park Boulevard, National Boulevard, Westwood Boulevard Daily service
(6a-10:30p)
9
Pacific Palisades
Sunset Boulevard and Marquez Avenue
Santa Monica
Colorado Avenue and 2nd-4th Streets
Sunset Boulevard, Entrada Drive Daily service
(6a-10p)
Santa Monica
Santa Monica City Hall
Rapid 10
Freeway Express
Santa Monica
2nd Street and Colorado Avenue
Downtown LA
Cesar E. Chavez Avenue and Vignes Street
In Santa Monica: Santa Monica Boulevard
Express Portion: Santa Monica Freeway
In Downtown LA: Grand & Olive Streets
Daily service
(5a-10p)
  • Charges an express upgrade upon boarding.
12
UCLA Expo Culver City Station Westwood Boulevard, Palms Boulevard Daily service
(6a-11p)
  • Operates alongside the Rapid 12
Rapid 12
UCLA Commuter
UCLA
Ackerman Terminal
Expo Culver City Station Westwood Boulevard, Palms Boulevard Weekdays peak periods only
(6a-10a to UCLA; 2p-6p from UCLA)
  • Operates alongside Line 12
13
West LA
Westside Pavilion
Mid-City
Pico Boulevard and Rimpau Boulevard
Pico Boulevard, Motor Avenue Weekdays peak periods only
(6a-9a to Mid-City; 2p-5p to West LA)
14
Brentwood
Sepulveda Boulevard and Moraga Drive
Culver City
Culver Boulevard and Centinela Avenue
Bundy Drive, Centinela Avenue Daily service
(6a-10p)
Rapid 20
Santa Monica
Broadway and 6th Street
Expo Culver City Station Santa Monica Freeway Weekdays
(5-7a,11a-4p to Expo;12-9p from Expo),
and Saturdays
(6a-7a to Expo;7p-9p from Expo)

Mini Blue[edit]

Route Operation Boundaries Via Days of Operation Notes
Crosstown Ride 41
Santa Monica
20th Street and Montana Avenue
Ocean Park
14th Street and Pearl Street
14th & 20th Streets Weekdays only (6:59-10:10p)
  • Service operates in a clockwise loops terminate on 17th Street and Pearl Street
Sunset Ride 44
Santa Monica
Colorado Avenue and 20th Street
Santa Monica Airport
Bundy Drive and Airport Avenue
Ocean Park Boulevard Weekdays only (7a-6p)
  • Service operates in a loops terminate at Santa Monica College Bundy Campus

Fares[edit]

Fare Type Adult Student‡S Senior(62+)/Disabled/Medicare
Local & Mini Blue $1.00 $0.50
Express Upgrade $1.00 $0.50
Interagency Transfer $0.50 $0.25
Day Pass $4.00 $1.50
13 Ride Pass $12.00 $6.00
Local 30 Day Pass $60.00 $40.00 $24.00
Express 30 Day Pass $80.00 $40.00
  • † Children five years of age and under may ride free (maximum 2 children with accompanying adult).
  • ‡ Proper identification must be presented to obtain the reduced Student and Senior/Disabled/Medicare fare.
  • S Santa Monica College students and staff may ride free with college I.D. and valid semester sticker.[6]
  • The BBB ended intra-agency transfers on January 1, 2014.

UCLA Student and staff[edit]

Santa Monica Big Blue Bus and Culver CityBus participate in BruinGo program, in which UCLA students and staff can swipe their BruinCard (university I.D.) on the farebox, so that the university pays a part of the fare.[5]

Type Fare
One-way (not available during summer quarter) US$0.50
BruinGo! Flash Pass US$33.00 per quarter

Fleet[edit]

Current[edit]

Order Year Manufacturer Model Length
(ft.)
Fleet Series
(Quantity)
Powertrain
(Engine/Transmission)
Fuel Propulsion Notes
2002 NABI 40-LFW 40 4001-4037
(37)
  • Detroit Diesel Series 50G
    • Allison WB-400R
LNG
  • Santa Monica's very first buses to run on Natural Gas.[7]
    *Some are retired.
MCI D4500 45 5501-5504
(4)
Diesel
  • Used exclusively for Charter service
2004-05 NFI L40LF 40 4038-4089
(51)
LNG
  • 4070-4072, 4078, and 4080-4089 are in big blue bus livery but retain the rapid blue paint.
  • Soon to be retired
2006 L40LF 40 4090-4099
(10)
LNG
  • 4091-4099 are in big blue bus livery but retain the rapid blue paint
  • Last New Flyer L40LF buses ever built
  • Soon to be retired
2010/2012 ElDorado National E-Z Rider II BRT 32 2901–2915
(15)
Hybrid
&
CNG
  • All buses have big blue bus livery except 2901-2904 which remains with mini blue livery
  • 2901-2904 are 2010 models & have been converted to CNG
  • 2905-2915 are 2012 models powered by CNG
  • Mini Blue, selected Line 2, 4, 13, and weekend service on Line 9
2010/2012 NABI 60-BRT 60 5300-5320(21)
  • Cummins Westport ISL-G
    • Allison WB-500R
CNG
  • Used exclusively on Rapid 7, Rapid 10, and Rapid 3 service on weekdays. Used on Line 3 Lincoln Blvd on weekends.
  • 5300-5315 are 2010 series & 5316-5320 are 2012 series models
2011 NABI 40-LFW 40 3868-3876
(9)
  • Cummins Westport ISL-G engine
    • Allison WB-400R Generation IV
CNG
2012 Gillig BRT 40 1300(1)
  • Cummins Westport ISL-G
    • Voith D864.5
CNG
  • Delivered
  • Replacing 1997-98 New Flyer D40LFs
2013 Gillig BRT 40 1301-1344(44)
  • Cummins Westport ISL-G
    • Voith D864.5
CNG
  • Delivered
  • Replacing 1997-98 New Flyer D40LFs
2014 Gillig BRT 40 1345-1357(13)
  • Cummins Westport ISL-G
    • Voith D864.5
CNG
  • Delivered
  • Replacing some 2002 NABI-40 LFWs

Retired[edit]

Make/
Model
Picture Year Numbers
(Quantity Ordered)
Engine/
Transmission
Fuel Propulsion Retired Notes
MCI
TC40-102A Classic
1988-1991 5181-5210, 4951-4960
(40 buses)
Diesel 2005 Many are still used in secondhand service by Canadian bus operators.
Nova Bus
TC40-102A Classic
1995 4801-4821
(21 buses)
Diesel September 2011
Thomas Built Buses SLF 230 2000 2606-2615
(10 buses)
  • Cummins B5.9
  • Allison AT-545
Diesel July 2010
  • Formerly used for Mini Blue service
New Flyer D40LF 1997-98 3801-3867
(67 buses)
Diesel 2014
  • The first low floor buses purchased
  • Some are used second hand in other transit agencies.
  • 3804 & 3855 remain in yard

Big Blue Buses in popular culture[edit]

Speed[edit]

Main article: Speed (1994 film)

The most famous Big Blue Bus is probably the one rigged with a bomb in 1994's hit movie Speed. Driving through Los Angeles at rush hour, the driver cannot slow down below 50 mph (80 km/h) or the bomb on the bus will detonate.

The bus operator in the movie is called the Santa Monica Intercity Bus Lines, a barely fictionalized version of the Big Blue Bus's official name, the Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines. Even more tellingly, the bus in the film is a General Motors "New Look" bus, introduced in 1959 but kept in prominent and active service by Santa Monica until early 2005, long after most other American cities had retired the retro-looking bus.

In another effort to differentiate the movie's bus from any real-world bus, the headsigns on the Speed bus display:

33 DOWNTOWN | VIA FREEWAY

However, number 33 buses are operated by Metro, not Big Blue, and run on Venice Boulevard, not the Santa Monica Freeway. The closest thing to the movie bus's routing is Santa Monica's number 10 express route.

The bus number was 2525, not within any equipment number range operated by the real company at that time.

It should also be noted that at the time the movie was released, Santa Monica's GM New Look fleet were the Canadian-built versions with wheelchair lifts; the US-built version were retired in 1990 to make room for the Classics.

Jimmy Kimmel Live![edit]

In an episode that originally aired on May 15, 2007, the ABC late-night show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, was filmed on a New Flyer L40LF model LNG bus. In this episode, titled Jimmy Kimmel Live on a Bus, Kimmel sat behind the desk, which was rigged to fit in a bus. This particular Santa Monica Big Blue Bus that was used in the episode was driven by veteran bus driver Erskins Robinson, who picked up unsuspecting passengers along his route. The celebrity guests who appeared in the Jimmy Kimmel Live on a Bus episode were Paula Abdul, Flavor Flav, and musical guest Feist.

The Doors[edit]

A Blue Bus is referred to twice in The Doors's classic 1967 song "The End", when singer Jim Morrison says "The blue bus is calling us", and "Meet me at the back of the blue bus".

Raymond Chandler[edit]

In Raymond Chandler's novel "Farewell, My Lovely", first published in 1940, he writes as protagonist Philip Marlowe, describing a scene in Bay City (Chandler's version of the City of Santa Monica):

"Outside the narrow street fumed, the sidewalks swarmed with fat stomachs. Across the street a bingo parlor was going full blast and beside it a couple of sailors with girls were coming out of a photographer’s shop where they had probably been having their photos taken riding on camels. The voice of the hot dog merchant split the dusk like an axe. A big blue bus blared down the street to the little circle where the street car used to turn on a turntable. I walked that way."

References[edit]

  1. ^ According to the Big Blue Bus Facts webpage, there were a total of 20,543,294 fixed route bus passengers in 2005. Dividing that number by 365, gives an average of 56,283 passengers per day.
  2. ^ Big Blue Bus to Increase Fares as of August 29th
  3. ^ Bus Line's One-Liners to StopLos Angeles Times Dec. 1, 1999
  4. ^ "Routes & Schedules". Big Blue Bus. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "BruinGo! Transit". UCLA Transportation. Retrieved 19 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "SMC - Any Time". Big Blue Bus. Retrieved 19 January 2012. 
  7. ^ http://www.bigbluebus.com/aboutus/index.asp

Further reading[edit]

Ayer, Bob. History of Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus. Santa Monica, CA: City of Santa Monica, 1992.

External links[edit]