February 2 – In a continuing effort to tackle Santa Monica’s traffic and parking woes, the City Council last week revisited bus routes, considered improvements to two streets and carved out yet another preferential parking zone.
In a move to reduce some of the Big Blue Bus’ less traveled routes and boost service on some of the busier lines, the council next week will consider curbing the TIDE Ride’s schedule to weekends and reconfiguring the route.
The focus of the line would shift from Downtown to the Annenberg Community Beach House at 415 PCH. The proposed route forms a loop traveling along Ocean Park Boulevard, 14th Street, the area near the city’s northern edge and Ocean Avenue.
“The TIDE Ride, connecting downtown with the south beach parking lots and Main Street, has experienced a decline in ridership in recent years and has the lowest productivity of all BBB services on weekdays with only 12 passengers per vehicle service hour,” City staff said.
The new TIDE Ride -- which would add two special Mini Blue vehicles small enough to operate in the Beach House parking lot use -- would operate on weekends between 9:45 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., with later hours added for summer, according to staff.
The council on Tuesday approved changes to the following routes:
- Line 1, connecting Main Street and UCLA via Santa Monica Boulevard, will add one bus and driver every afternoon to re-establish reliability when the streets are congested.
- Line 3 and Rapid 3, the most overcrowded lines in the system, will add 508 annual service hours.
- Line 4, operating on San Vicente and Sawtelle Boulevards, the least productive service on weekends in the entire system, will operate hourly, instead of every half hour, and cut the last hour of service, trimming 3,379 service hours a year.
- Line 5, serving Colorado Avenue and Century City, will eliminate the last eastbound and westbound trips in the evening and add a bus in the afternoon when the streets are congested.
- Line 6, the Santa Monica College Commuter, will be modified to avoid picking up passengers on Pearl Street after residents complained about students gathered to wait for the bus. The new configuration will add 115 annual service hours.
- Rapid 7 on Pico Boulevard will add one round trip in the late morning when the college is in session, adding 450 annual service hours.
- Line 9, the service to Pacific Palisades, will cut one round trip every evening, resulting in an annual decrease of 254 service hours.
- Line 10, the Downtown Los Angeles Freeway Express, will eliminate the first morning trip servicing Union Station and one trip in the early evening every Sunday, trimming 261 service hours.
- The Sunset Ride connecting the Arboretum, Water Gardens, Pico and Sunset Park Neighborhoods and Airport Park with SMC campuses will operate every 30 minutes after 4:30 p.m. due to fewer riders, resulting in 508 fewer service hours.
The changes were made to “better meet customer travel demand and to operate reliably through increased traffic congestion,” Blue Bus officials said.
In other actions last Tuesday, the council considered proposed concepts for streetscape improvements on 20th Street and for Cloverfield Boulevard, but pushed back a decision to address concerns that the proposed concepts do not enhance bicycle and pedestrian safety.
In addition, the council considered two design concepts for the Ocean Park Boulevard Streetscape, favoring the option that emphasizes wider sidewalks over medians.
The council also asked staff to re-consider separated bike lanes and crosswalks at 2nd and 5th streets and to explore ways to reduce waiting time at the intersection of Lincoln and Ocean Park Boulevard.
Last week, the council also approved an amendment to the preferential parking zone to restrict street parking 24 hours a day to residents only on the blocks of Longfellow, Navy and Ozone Streets near Lincoln Boulevard in the Borderline Neighborhood.
Residents, who live in older homes on small parcels, complained that restaurant patrons park on the residential streets at night, even though metered parking is available on Lincoln Boulevard.