Students to Get Free Ride
By Lookout Staff
April 18 -- Starting in the fall, Santa Monica College
students and employees will get a free ride on any Big Blue Bus
anytime, anywhere, under a program approved by the College Board
College officials hailed the unanimous vote to approve the “Any
Line, Any Time” program as an historic move designed to improve
access to the college and to reduce traffic, noise and air pollution.
The program will go into effect in late August when the fall semester
“This is an extraordinary commitment on the part of the Board
of Trustees and the Associated Students to support my vision of
creating a reliable way for students and employees to get to campus
without having to pay the high price of gas, battle traffic and
waste time looking for parking spaces,” said SMC President
Dr. Chui L. Tsang.
“Only a very few public colleges in California have attempted
to provide no-charge transit passes,” Tsang said.
The program -- which bus officials estimate will result in more
than 5,000 new boardings system-wide -- expands the college’s
2007 transportation initiative launched in partnership with the
Big Blue Bus, which offers free access to three bus routes, two
of them new.
They include number 6 “SMC Commuter” from the Mar Vista
and Palms neighborhoods to the Bundy and Main campuses; the Mini
Blue Crosstown Ride from Santa Monica or from West Hollywood and
Beverly Hills and the “mini-blue” Sunset Ride connecting
all three campuses with the Olympic Park and ride lot at the corner
The Sunset Ride “immediately became an instant success”
carrying an average of 50 passengers an hour, 95 percent of them
students, making it the fourth most productive line in the system,
The ride is in such high demand – ridership grew 133 percent
since it hit the road in 2004 – the hours have been expanded
and buses now come every 15 minutes, instead of every 20, Negriff
“We are incredibly impressed with the initiative of the SMC
student body and administration towards advocating public transit
use,” said Stephanie Negriff, Big Blue Bus Director of Transit
Services. “We are confident that this partnership will significantly
reduce the number of cars on local streets.
In an effort to address regional traffic issues, Blue Bus officials
plan to add the Super 7 line to the Red Line terminal, which “would
capture 1,000 Santa Monica students more,” Negriff said.
Because the line would go into a “reserved service area,”
Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) approval is required, Negriff
said. “It creates improved regional mobility,” she said,
noting that students currently have to transfer two or three times
to get to campus from the Red Line terminal.
The new line would supplement the most productive route in the
15-line system -- the number 7 along Pico Boulevard, which has a
high ridership among students who flock to the bus stop on the Main
Campus when classes let out.
The proposed new route, which is expected to be approved and launched
by the beginning of the fall semester, would also be free for SMC
students and employees.
The new program will require an SMC financial commitment of $1.2
million in 2008-09, of which approximately one-third will come from
the SMC Associated Students, one-third from the SMC general fund,
and the remainder from new revenues generated by increased parking
and Associated Students fees.
Big Blue Bus officials have estimated that the new and expanded
transit services implemented in 2007 have reduced vehicle trips
to campus by 6,000 a day.