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Director's Year-End Letter
December 20, 2018

Dear Big Blue Bus Customers:

In 1928, the Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines got its start operating eight vehicles in our signature blue and white colors along Pico Boulevard. Since then, Big Blue Bus has flourished into a 200-vehicle mobility provider connecting our community, residents, and visitors with mobility and opportunity.

This year marks our 90thbirthday, and we could not have achieved this milestone without you, our loyal customers. Thank you for your continued patronage and support of Big Blue Bus.

We also credit our enduring success to the many current and former employees who have made this organization a leader in the provision of public transportation services to the City of Santa Monica and the Westside of Los Angeles.

As we welcome 2019 with excitement, let us reflect on some highlights from 2018:

We deployed state-of-the-art buses.

  • Purchased and placed into service seven (7) 30-foot and nineteen (19) 40-foot near-zero emission buses allowing us to retire 25 of our oldest LNG buses, and reduce the average age of our bus fleet to 4.7 years.
  • Received over $9 million in grant and local funding for new bus purchases.

We adopted a zero-emissions policy with Santa Monica City Council support.

  • Initiated the zero-emissions program by purchasing our first electric bus to be delivered in Spring 2019. Work has already started on purchasing the next 13 to 15 electric buses and charging units.

We introduced new technology.

  • Upgraded our operations and planning software, helping to deliver better service to our customers.
  • Upgraded our mobile fare payment service, Token Transit, and continue to evaluate future enhancements that improve the customer experience.

We engaged our customers.

  • Hosted public meetings and conducted an online survey to receive public feedback on proposals on how best to deliver future service. Community input has informed our proposals and strategy for March 2019 service changes.
  • Conducted four customer focus groups to gain critical first-hand customer insights about service needs and priorities.
  • Distributed over 10,000 free TAP cards to our customers and community.
  • Surveyed customers to better understand where to deploy 200 real-time signs with solar lights in early 2019.

We launched new mobility-focused programs.

  • Initiated Blue to Business, a discounted employer pass program that provides unlimited rides to participating employers.
  • Launched Mobility On-Demand Every Day (MODE), a re-branded Dial-A-Ride service, to provide seniors and disabled residents in Santa Monica on-demand service through the Lyft app or wheelchair accessible vans. Ridership has increased by over 100% and MODE is providing over 4,000 trips monthly to members, many of whom live at or below the poverty line.

We celebrated safety.

  • Received the 2017 APTA Gold Safety Award for outstanding accident prevention and for reducing our preventable accidents and passenger incidents. 
  • Recognized 343 Motor Coach Operators (MCOs) and Maintenance staff who accumulated more than 2,101 years of safe driving and 535 years of safe workplace practices. We thank and acknowledge William Alvarenga, Greg Jones, Darryl Banks, Norman Mays, and Earl Collins who all had over 25 years of safe driving, and Bill Figueroa with 33 years of workplace safety.

We prepared a new workforce.

  • Trained and graduated 41 new operators while 12 new staff joined the BBB team.
  • Getty Modica, Transit Maintenance Manager, was honored with the inaugural Transit Maintenance Director of the Year by Metro Magazine.

As we close out this year of celebration, I encourage you to watch our 90th Anniversary video, which celebrates our rich history, our employees, and most of all our customers.

Thank you for being an integral part of the Big Blue Bus family.


Edward F. King

Director of Transit Services