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City Council Report

 

City Council Meeting: September 24, 2013

Agenda Item: 9-B

 

To:               Mayor and City Council 

From:           Edward F. King, Director of Transit Services

Subject:        Big Blue Bus Service Change Recommendations Public Hearing

 

 

Recommended Action

 

1.     Hold a public hearing in accordance with Federal Transportation Administration Circular 9030.1D and receive public comments regarding the recommendation to:

a.     Approve the elimination of Route 11 in February 2014, and

b.    Approve the temporary truncation of Route 44, the Sunset Ride, by eliminating service to Santa Monica College’s Academy of Entertainment and Technology (AET) Campus.

 

Executive Summary

 

The FTA Circular 9030.1D requires that transit operators conduct a public hearing when proposing to eliminate entirely or reduce service by 25 percent of daily transit revenue miles or hours.  Although regional funding for public transportation has stabilized in the last year, it is still necessary to ensure that BBB services are operating as efficiently as possible. The Big Blue Bus (BBB) continually studies the performance of its routes and schedules to ensure efficiencies and to assure that limited resources are applied strategically. As a result of findings from this process and adapting to known external conditions affecting BBB service demand, staff proposes the following changes to take effect as part of the February 2014 service change:

·      Eliminate Route 11 due to duplication of service

·      Detour Route 44 due to construction at SMC Academy of Entertainment and Technology (AET) Campus

In addition to FTA guidelines, transit agencies must adhere to Title VI. Title VI is a Federal statute and provides that no person shall, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal funds. A Title VI evaluation was performed on the changes proposed in this staff report and there was no discovery of significant disparate impact on low income or minority populations as a result of these changes.

 

Background

 

Route 11, known as the Campus Connector, predominantly offers service for students, wishing to travel between Santa Monica College (SMC) and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). This route, which provides four trips daily between the two campuses, duplicates other BBB and Metro routes utilizing the same corridors. Passengers travelling between SMC and UCLA have the choice of also riding Route 1, Route 2 or Route 8 and changing to the Crosstown Route.

 

Route 44, known as the Sunset Ride, travels between the Santa Monica Airport and Colorado and 20th Street. Route 44 serviced SMC’s Academy of Entertainment and Technology (AET) Campus. In May 2013, SMC began construction at AET closing down the campus in addition to the adjacent parking lot. SMC has projected a construction time of approximately two years.

 

Discussion

 

As a result of continually studying the performance of its routes and schedules, BBB implemented schedule modifications responsive to the needs identified through the June 2013 and August 2013 service planning processes. Staff rerouted certain route segments, which is a cost-neutral action and added frequency of service and additional one-way trips to reduce overcrowding. The following summarizes service improvements by route with the June and August 2013 service changes:

 

June 2013 Service Improvements

 

Route 3

·       Added one vehicle 10 hours per day on weekends to improve on time performance for summer only.

·       Added evening southbound summer trip operating Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.

 

Rapid 3

·       Made Lincoln at Mindanao a Rapid stop in both directions.

 

Route 4

·       More direct weekday routing in the downtown area to improve on time performance.

·       More direct outbound routing on San Vicente at Montana to improve on time performance.  

 

Route 7

·       Improved weekday schedule of every 12 minutes all day instead of every 10 minutes AM peak, every 15 minutes 9am to noon, and every 12 minutes noon to end of PM peak. 

·       Created memory schedule with departures timed to alternate with the Rapid 7 departures.

Rapid 7

·       Improved weekday schedule of every 12 minutes all day instead of every 15 minutes.

·       Created memory schedule with departures timed to alternate with local Route 7 departures. 

 

Route 9

·       More direct weekday routing in the downtown area to improve on time performance.

 

August 2013 Service Improvements

 

Route 3

·       Improved Route 3 service weekday and weekend schedule for better on time performance and to assist with overloading.

Rapid 3

·       Mid-day service has been added on this route to help alleviate overloading on Route 3. 

 

In addition to the service improvements that have already been implemented, the route performance analysis offers opportunities to examine underperforming trips and consider how best to reallocate those resources to service with higher passenger demand. By trimming underperforming trips, BBB would solve long standing challenges such as overloading on certain routes. 

Route 11 carried 34.75 riders per revenue hour in fiscal year 2013. The system average for the same fiscal year was 37.39.  However, over 80% of Route 11 riders board/alight on Santa Monica Boulevard, where Route 1 and Metro Routes 20 and 720 operate duplicative service. Eliminating this duplication, would divert these passengers to use these other services.  Additionally, route 11 operates very inefficiently due to the low number of daily trips (eight trips each weekday).  The BBB system average for the percent of time a bus is in service rather than driving back and forth to the garage is 95.5% for all hours that the bus is out of the garage.  However, because Route 11 runs so few trips, it is only in service 80.3% of the time it is out of the garage.  The remaining 19.7% of the hours spent on the road, the bus is running empty back and forth to its start and end points. Elimination of this route will help BBB reach higher levels of overall efficiency and allow BBB to redirect these resources to routes suffering overloaded conditions.

 

In addition, Route 11 is duplicative of existing BBB and Metro service. Passengers wishing to travel between SMC and UCLA campuses can continue to do so using Route 1, 2 or 8 and changing to the Crosstown Route. Metro Routes 20 and 720 also overlap with Route 11 (Attachment – Route 11 Duplication of Service). The availability of these alternatives ensures minimal impact to customers.

 

In the case of the Sunset Ride, staff recommends a temporary truncation in response to SMC’s construction schedule. BBB staff detoured the Sunset Ride with the August 2013 service change in response to notification from SMC that it will close its AET Campus due to a two-year construction project and shift classes to the Bundy Campus in the interim. Given that this is a two-year construction schedule, it is necessary to incorporate the change in service into BBB’s schedule. Under the proposed change, the Sunset Ride would now travel only between SMC’s Bundy Campus and Main Campus for the next two years. The new route would be as follows:

 

·       Buses will travel regular route from SMC Bundy Campus to Ocean Park Blvd. at 17th St., then right on 17th St., left on Pearl, right on 16th St., right on Pico Blvd., right on 20th St., left on Ocean Park Blvd. and then buses will resume regular route back to the SMC Bundy Campus.

 

The bar chart below details the Sunset Ride’s Monday through Thursday cumulative passenger activity by bus stop. The section of the bar chart that represents the portion of the route being eliminated is shown in the middle of the chart from 20th at Pico to Stewart at Exposition. The ridership in this section was fairly low prior to closure of the AET Campus, representing only 15% of the total route ridership. Route 44 carried approximately 268,000 passengers in the 2012 calendar year, of which only 40,200 were on the portion of the route being eliminated.  The highest boarding and alighting stop on this route segment is in front of SMC’s remote parking lot on Stewart at Exposition. This lot is also closed in addition to the AET Campus.

 

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Public Outreach

Upon notification of the AET Campus closure, BBB staff conducted outreach through BBB email alerts, website updates and direct outreach to SMC riders informing them of the detour eliminating the AET Campus portion of Route 44 pending City Council approval. In addition, BBB staff conducted a community meeting on August 21, 2013 from 6 to 8 pm at the Santa Monica Main Library. Approximately 45 people attended the meeting. During this meeting, staff presented the duplication of service data for Route 11 and the details of SMC’s construction plans impacting service along Route 44. Staff also highlighted new service additions and service increases along routes with the heaviest ridership and challenges with on-time performance. There were no specific comments regarding the proposed elimination of Route 11 or temporary truncation of Route 44.  One attendee expressed that while BBB offered good regional coverage, it needs to offer more community service directly in the neighborhoods.

 

A Title VI evaluation was performed on the changes proposed in this staff report and there was no discovery of significant disparate impact on low income or minority populations as a result of these changes.

 

Next Steps

After the public hearing, if the elimination of Route 11 and the temporary truncation of the Sunset Ride are approved, staff would conduct outreach and education to communicate the policy decisions and what riders can expect going forward. The elimination of Route 11 and temporary truncation of the Sunset Ride, if approved, would take effect with the February 2014 service change.

 

Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

 

There is no immediate financial impact or budget action necessary as a result of the recommended action.   The revenue impact of the recommended action is negligible. A majority of the riders are SMC riders using prepaid passes. The ridership from Route 11 and the Sunset Ride would transfer to other services and any resources saved would be redirected to those routes experiencing overloads.

 

Prepared by: Suja Lowenthal, Transit Government and Community Relations Manager

 

Approved:

 

Forwarded to Council:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edward F. King

Director of Transit Services

 

Rod Gould

City Manager

 

Attachment:   Route 11 - Duplication of Service