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|Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus Cancels Charter Service|
By Lookout Staff
June 26, 2012 -- Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus will shut down its charter services as operating costs get more expensive and federal regulations get tougher, transit officials said.
After June 30, the BBB will stop renting out the 18 buses on the 11-year-old diesel fleet for private charter trips, including the monthly “Getaways” excursions that take residents to local points of interest on weekends on the soon-to-be-defunct charter fleet.
BBB charter buses will also no longer offer special event shuttles, school field trips, the Hollywood Bowl Park-and-Ride, private party charters and charters for other City departments.
“The return on investment from operating charters is no longer adequate to sustain or justify charter operations,” said City staff.
In Financial Year 2011-2012, BBB estimated that its charter service would generate $150,000. With the end of the financial year less than a week away, the service has only generated $69,000 -- less than half of what officials hoped for.
“Charter service was once a profitable endeavor for the BBB,” staff said, “since a large share of the business came from local and private schools that hired the BBB for their transportation needs.”
When drivers take charter work, it leads to overtime or it requires that their regular shifts be covered by off-duty drivers, driving up the expense, transit officials said.
The high cost of operating the charter service means that it has to be subsidized at a rate of $20 an operating hour.
Though BBB could address this issue by raising charter prices, staff said it would not be able to compete with private operator rates.
“Although some customers might be willing to pay a higher price because of their familiarity and satisfaction with BBB, it is unlikely that there will be enough to make the effort worthwhile,” staff said.
As a result, the company will sell or auction off the buses on the fleet.
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