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Santa Monica to Start $7 Million Bus Stop Makeover

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By Jason Islas
Lookout reporter

March 31, 2014 -- Santa Monica’s bus stops will get a long-anticipated overhaul starting Monday when Big Blue Bus begins its $7 million federally-funded project to bring the system into the 21st century.

Over the next two years, Big Blue Bus will overhaul 300 bus stops -- in groups of six to 10 at a time -- to include lighting, route and real-time bus schedule information, seating, canopies for shade and recycling and trash containers.

“Just giving a decent place to wait for a bus is very important,” said former Lookout columnist Frank Gruber, an avid rider of Santa Monica’s transit system.

When Gruber ran for City Council in 2012, he made modernizing Santa Monica’s bus stops part of his platform.

Most stops have little more than a sign indicating that one of Santa Monica’s buses stops there. Often times, there isn’t even a bench.

“When you’re waiting for a bus, you’re completely exposed,” he said. You’re out on the curb. Cars are whizzing by. The sidewalk is sometimes full of litter.

“We want people to ride the bus,” he said. “It was incredible that we didn’t have decent places to wait for our bus riding heroes.”

On Monday, Big Blue Bus will begin construction on the first six stops. Stops in both directions at Lincoln Boulevard and Ashland Avenue will be closed. The stops at Main Street and Hollister and Main Street and Marine will also be closed.

Riders should expect those stops to be closed for the next three to four weeks, officials said. To find alternative boarding information, visit Riders can also sign up to get project updated by email or at

As construction starts on other stops around town, riders can expect notices to appear.

“Ten to 14 days prior to the start of construction, we will install a temporary sign that tells you when your stop is closing and reopening, and alternative locations to board the bus,” officials said. “Construction of a stop will always begin on a Monday.”

But officials said the upgrades will happen on no more than 10 stops at a time.

“We thought through how many stops we could improve simultaneously before the impacts of construction became too inconvenient,” staff said.

For Gruber, who has been riding the bus for years, the changes are welcome.

“It’s about time,” Gruber said. “They’ve been working on this for about a decade.”

Most importantly, he said, major stops will be equipped with real-time information, telling riders when the next bus is due to arrive.

“The real-time stuff is crucial,” he said, because it allows riders to make more efficient transit decisions.

He also hopes the upgrades will encourage more people to ride the bus.

Upgrading the system says “to the people who ride the bus, ‘You are valued,’” he said.

“These people who ride the bus are our heroes. By riding the bus, they are not driving a car and there are fewer cars on the street and we should treat them well,” Gruber said.

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