Big Blue Bus

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For other bus operators known as Blue Bus, see Blue Bus (disambiguation).
Big Blue Bus
SMBBB Logo.svg
SMBBB3876.jpg
Big Blue Bus at UCLA Hilgard Terminal
Slogan Ride Blue. Go Green.
Parent City of Santa Monica
Founded 1928
Headquarters Santa Monica, California
Locale Santa Monica, Westwood, and Venice, California
Service area United States
Service type Transit Bus
Routes 20[1]
Fleet 196
Daily ridership 65,600 (weekdays, Q1 2016)[2]
Fuel type CNG, LNG
Operator City of Santa Monica
Chief executive Edward F. King
Website www.bigbluebus.com

The Santa Monica Big Blue Bus is a municipal bus operator in the Westside region of Los Angeles County, that provides 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 its first route. Choosing a blue livery, it was called Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines. It kept its base fare at 10 cents for a long time.Template:Howlong 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 connected 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, 2000 and 2011. 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[3] except for the EZ Pass, and unlike other EZ Pass agencies, Metrolink fare media are not accepted. 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 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. It was also the first transit agency in the State of California to use the Grumman-Flxible Model 870 advanced design transit buses equipped with Lift-U wheelchair lifts beginning in 1978, and the third customer after Atlanta's MARTA, and the Connecticut's Department of Transportation's CT Transit's order of these buses. These buses never experienced the same chronic structural problems that plagued these early vehicles that were also sold to other transit agencies. These were also the very first production buses built with wheelchair lifts before ADA effectively became law of the land in 1990

For 20 years until December 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.[4]

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.

Incidents[edit]

On November 20, 2012, a Big Blue Bus turned left in front of an oncoming motorcyclist, which resulted in the 25-year-old man's death. The accident occurred at approximately 10:33 a.m. at the triangular intersection of Sunset Boulevard 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.

On June 7, 2013, Bus 4057 of Big Blue Bus was among several vehicles fired at during a thirteen-minute killing spree that left six people dead, including the gunman, and four others wounded. Three women suffered minor injuries aboard the bus, one from shrapnel-type injuries and the other two from injuries unrelated to the gunfire.[5] Approximately two dozen people were inside the bus at the time of the shooting. The attack on Bus 4057 marked the first time a Big Blue Bus came under attack by a gunman in its 85-year service.[6]

Some popular destinations[edit]

A Big Blue Bus in Westwood.

Big Blue Bus provides service to the following popular destinations:

Routes[edit]

Big Blue Bus operates 14 local routes, 3 Rapid routes, and 1 express route in Los Angeles County.[7]

Route Terminals Via Days of Operation# Notes
3
Santa Monica
Arizona Avenue and 5th Street
Westchester, Los Angeles

Aviation/LAX station

Lincoln Boulevard Daily service
  • Operates alongside the Rapid 3
  • Serves LAX City Bus Center
Rapid 3
Santa Monica
Arizona Avenue and 5th Street
Westchester, Los Angeles

Aviation/LAX station

Lincoln Boulevard Daily service
  • Operates alongside Line 3
  • Serves LAX City Bus Center
  • See also: Metro Rapid
5
Santa Monica
4th Street and Arizona Avenue
Century City

Westfield Century City

Broadway, Olympic Boulevard Daily service
Palms, Los Angeles (weekday peak hours)
Palms station
Broadway, Olympic Boulevard, Motor Avenue, Manning Avenue Weekdays only during peak hours
  • Weekday peak hour trips continue to Palms station after reaching Century City.
7
Santa Monica
7th Street and Olympic Boulevard
Mid-City,

Los Angeles
Rimpau Transit Center (Pico Boulevard and Rimpau Boulevard)

Pico Boulevard Daily service
  • Operates alongside the Rapid 7
  • Three trips westbound in the morning and three trips eastbound in the afternoon deviate from Pico Blvd. to serve Beverlywood.
Rapid 7
Santa Monica
7th Street and Olympic Boulevard
Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles

Wilshire/Western station

Pico Boulevard Daily
8
Santa Monica
7th Street and Olympic Boulevard
UCLA Ocean Park Boulevard, National Boulevard, Westwood Boulevard Daily service
9
Pacific Palisades
Sunset Boulevard and Marquez Avenue
Santa Monica
Civic Center
Sunset Boulevard, Chatauqua Boulevard, 4th Street Daily service
10
Venice Circle
Windward Ave and Main St
Mid-Wilshire
Wilshire/Western station
Main St, Santa Monica Boulevard, Vermont Av Daily service
Rapid 12
UCLA

Charles E Young/P2 Hub

Palms/Culver City

Overland Avenue and Venice Boulevard

Westwood Boulevard, Overland Avenue Daily service
14
Brentwood
San Vicente Boulevard and Gorham Avenue
Playa Vista
Artisans Way and Centinela Avenue
Bundy Drive, Centinela Avenue Daily service
  • Select trips continue to Paul Revere Middle School after reaching Brentwood.
15
Brentwood
Barrington Place and Chayote Street
West Los Angeles
Expo/Bundy station
Barrington Avenue Daily service
  • Service runs every 30 min on Weekdays and Saturday and hourly on Sunday.
16
Marina del Rey
Lincoln Boulevard and Mindanao Way
West Los Angeles

Saltair Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard

Walgrove Avenue/23rd Street, 20th Street Weekdays only
17
UCLA (weekdays) Culver City

Culver City Station

Sawtelle Boulevard, Palms Boulevard Daily service
West Los Angeles (weekends)

VA West Los Angeles Medical Center

18
UCLA (weekdays/Saturday) Venice
Windward Circle
Montana Avenue, 4th Street/Avenue Daily service
Brentwood (Sunday)San Vicente Boulevard & Bringham Avenue
41
Santa Monica
17th Street/Santa Monica College station
14th/20th Streets Daily service
  • Service operates in a clockwise loop and terminates at 17th Street/SMC Expo Line Station
  • Operates in the opposite direction of Line 42
42
Santa Monica
17th Street/Santa Monica College station
20th/14th Streets Daily service
  • Service operates in a counterclockwise loop and terminates at 17th Street/SMC Expo Line Station
  • Operates in the opposite direction of Line 41
43
Santa Monica
Stewart Street and Pennsylvania Avenue
Santa Monica
San Vicente Boulevard and 14th Street
26th Street and San Vicente Boulevard Weekdays only during peak hours
  • Select eastbound trips to San Vicente Boulevard and 14th Street deviate to serve Paul Revere Middle School.
44
Santa Monica

17th Street/Santa Monica College station

Santa Monica

Santa Monica College Bundy Campus

Ocean Park Boulevard Weekdays only
  • Service connects the 17th Street/Santa Monica College station, the Santa Monica College Main Campus and the Santa Monica College Bundy Campus.
  • On the non-rapid routes, weekday trips between 7am and 8pm serve UCLA Transit Center / Hilgard Terminal; weekday trips from 8p-7a and all weekend trips serve Charles E Young/P2 Hub (Charles E. Young Dr. between Westholme Ave. and Manning Ave.). Rapid 12 always serves Charles E Young/P2 Hub.[8]

Fares[edit]

Fare Type Adult Student‡S Senior(62+)/Disabled/Medicare
Local $1.25 $0.50
Express $2.50 $1.00
Interagency Transfer $0.50 $0.25
Day Pass $4.00 $1.50
13 Ride Pass $14.00 $6.00
Local 30 Day Pass $50.00 $28.00 $24.00
Express 30 Day Pass $89.00 $40.00
Rolling 7-Day Pass $14.00 N/A
  • † 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.[9]
  • The BBB ended intra-agency transfers on January 1, 2014.

UCLA students 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.[8]

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 Image Model Length
(ft.)
Fleet Series
(Quantity)
Powertrain
(Engine/Transmission)
Fuel Propulsion Notes
2002 NABI Big Blue Bus 4036.JPGBig Blue Bus 4011.jpg 40-LFW 40 4001-4037
(37)

As of December 2015

[4001,4008,

4013,4015,

4017,4021,

4022,4028,

4029, 4030,

4031,4033

,4036]

(13)

  • Detroit Diesel Series 50G
    • Allison WB-400R
LNG
  • Santa Monica's very first buses to run on Natural Gas.[10]
  • Soon to be retired
  • 4001,4008,4013,4015,4017,4021,4022,4028,4029,4030,4031,4033,4036 (still remain in weekday service)~4002, 4003, 4004, 4005,4006,4007,4009,4010,4011,4012,4014,4016,4018,4019,4020,4023,4024,4025,4026,4027,4032,4034,4035, and 4037 are retired and not used in active service anymore.[citation needed]

[11]

  • 4024 is retired and off the yard. Is waiting to be auctioned at Ken Porter auctions.
  • Some are used during mid day, but most are used during peak hours
  • Used on lines 1,2,3,R3,3M,4,5,7,8,9,12,14
  • Some are retired; only 24 buses remain active as of September 2014.[12]
  • 14 Remain in service as of October 31, 2015[citation needed]
MCI D4500 45 5501-5504
(4)
Diesel
  • Used exclusively for Charter service. Sold off in 2012 when the city terminated the charter program on July 1 of that year.
2004-05 NFI Big Blue Bus 4057.JPG 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 Big Blue Bus 4080.JPG 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 Big Blue Bus 2900-1.jpg E-Z Rider II BRT 32 2900–2915
(16)
Hybrid
&
CNG
  • All buses have big blue bus livery except 2900-2904 which remains with mini blue livery
  • 2900-2904 are 2010 models & have been converted to CNG (2903,2904 still are in the yard and have not been converted yet)
  • 2905-2915 are 2012 models powered by CNG
  • Weekdays: used on lines 4, 5, 9, 15, 16, 18, 41, 44 (routes are not exclusively 30 foot buses; 40 foot buses run them too)
  • Weekends: used on lines 2, 5, 8, 9, 14, 15, 18, 41 (routes are not exclusively 30 foot buses; 40 foot buses run them too)
2010/2012 NABI Big Blue Bus 5307.jpg 60-BRT 60 5300-5320(21)
  • Cummins Westport ISL-G
    • Allison WB-500R
CNG
  • Used exclusively on Rapid 3, Local 3, Rapid 7, and Rapid 10 service.
  • 5300-5315 are 2010 series & 5316-5320 are 2012 series models
2011 NABI Big Blue Bus 3871.JPG 40-LFW 40 3868-3876
(9)
  • Cummins Westport ISL-G engine
  • 44' turning radius
    • Allison WB-400R Generation IV
CNG
  • Replaced 1997-98 New Flyer D40LF's and some 1995 Novabus Classic's
  • these were an option of 58 units but was canceled after 9 units were delivered
2012 Gillig BRT 40 1300(1)
  • Cummins Westport ISL-G
    • Voith D864.5
CNG
  • Delivered
  • Replaced 1997-98 New Flyer D40LFs
2013 Gillig BRT 40 1301-1344(44)
  • Cummins Westport ISL-G
    • Voith D864.5
CNG
  • Delivered
  • Replaced 1997-98 New Flyer D40LFs
2014 Gillig Big Blue Bus 1355.JPG BRT 40 1345-1357(13)
  • Cummins Westport ISL-G
    • Voith D864.5
CNG
  • Delivered
  • Replaced some 2002 NABI-40 LNG LFWs
2015 NFI Big Blue Bus 1560.JPG XN60 60 1560-1566(7)[13][14]
  • Cummins Westport ISL-G
    • Allison
CNG
  • Replaced some 2002 NABI-40 LNG LFWs
  • Used exclusively on Rapid 3, Local 3, Rapid 7, and Rapid 10 service.
2015 Gillig Big Blue Bus 1501.JPG BRT 40 1500-1510

[15]

  • Cummins Westport ISL-G
    • Voith D864.5
CNG
  • Delivered
  • Replaced some 2002 NABI-40 LNG LFWs
2016 Gillig 2016gilligBIGBLUEBUS.tiff BRT 29 1600-1603
  • Cummins Westport ISL-G
    • Voith D864.5
CNG
  • Replaced some 2002 NABI-40 LNG LFWs
  • All seats on board do not face forward except those in the very back
  • Run on same routes as the El Dorado E-Z Rider II BRTs
  • The buses were purchased to run on new lines introduced in 2016 such as 16, 18, 42 and 43.

Retired[edit]

Make/
Model
Thumbnail Year Numbers
(Quantity Ordered)
Engine/
Transmission
Fuel Propulsion Retired Notes
General Motors Diesel Division T8H-5307A 1982 5101-5122 Diesel 1997 Some sold to Brampton Transit Barrie Transit and STCUQ and refurbishing Companies.
General Motors Diesel Division T8H-5307A 1985-1986 5123-5180 Diesel 2002 2005 some sold to Brampton Transit STCUQ and Private owners and more. 5180 remained on BBB property as a historical bus until 2013. Last order of GM New looks.
  • 5162 is now owned by a private party. (BBB 5162 Website)
  • 5180 Sold to the Museum of Bus Transportation in Hershey, PA (July 2013).
MCI
TC40-102A Classic
1988-1991 5181-5210, 4951-4960
(40 buses)
Diesel 2005/2006 Many are still used in secondhand service by Canadian bus operators.
Nova Bus
TC40-102A Classic
1995 4801-4821
(21 buses)
Diesel September 2011 Last high floor buses to be Retired.
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 1997-1998 3801-3867
(67 buses)
Diesel 2014
  • The first low floor buses purchased
  • Replaced 1982 GM T8H-5307A 5101-5122 buses.
  • 3804 & 3855 remain in yard

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 bus has to keep its speed over 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]

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]