Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By David Ganezer
Observer Staff Writer 

Big Blue Bus Won't Accept Money As Payment For Rides

Bus companies have since started taking fares again, in another sign that pandemic restrictions are ending in LA County.

 

Mary Leipziger

A bus driver wearing a mask in this 2020 file photo.

Bus riders will no longer be able to pay for their rides in cash.

Starting Monday July 12, the Big Blue Bus Co. has announced that it will no longer accept cash from riders. Customers must pay with TAP cards purchased from machines at train stations, or they will have to buy mobile tickets online. The idea is to make payment "contactless," seemingly a holdover from the pandemic.

During the pandemic, both MTA and BBB buses were free to all. Both companies have since started taking fares again, in another sign that pandemic restrictions are ending in LA County.

In the woke republic that is Santa Monica, the Big Blue Buses are admittedly a really good deal. Those over 55 can get to downtown LA for 50 cents, that's 12 miles from Santa Monica. Starting anywhere in Santa Monica, you can get pretty much anywhere on the Westside, also for 50 cents. Though you do have to wait a full 5 minutes if some guy with a wheelchair wants on. The driver stops and raises him to the bus platform on an specially designed electric lift. And everyone feels great about it, no matter what kind of hurry they may be in, right?

I should mention that BBB and the MTA buses will take riders younger than 55 for $1.50. The MTA fare for those over 55 is 35 cents. Express bus number 720 stops only once every mile or so, and is a very good transportation buy since it doesn't charge extra to take you the 12 miles to downtown LA

The press release from the BBB follows.

SANTA MONICA, CA – Big Blue Bus (BBB) will transition to contactless only fare payments starting on Monday, July 12 as part of a systemwide pilot program.

During the pilot period, cash and tokens will no longer be accepted on board. Instead, customers will be asked to pay for their trip using a TAP card or mobile ticket.

The pilot program will study the effectiveness of contactless payments, including making buses safer for both customers and Motor Coach Operators, faster boarding times, and offering more convenient and economical ways for customers to pay their fare.

TAP eliminates the burden of carrying exact change, by offering a reusable card that works as a transit pass. TAP cards are smart and secure and can be loaded with a BBB pass or Stored Value (valid on any of the 26 TAP-participating transit agencies) for seamless travel throughout the Westside and LA County.

Mobile tickets can be conveniently purchased through Transit (BBB's official app), Token Transit, and other third-party apps, which are available for iOS and Android smartphones. BBB Single Rides and passes can be purchased in the Transit app for immediate use or stored for future trips.

In response to the start of the pilot program, Blue: The Transit Store has increased its operating hours, and is now open Monday through Thursday from 8:30am to 5:00pm and every other Friday from 12:00pm to 4:00pm. The Transit Store is located at 1444 4th St. in Downtown Santa Monica. To help customers decide which contactless option works best for them, BBB encourages scheduling in-person appointments with Transit Store staff at santamonica.gov/appointment, or by calling (310) 451-5444.

Mary Leipziger

A bus driver waiting for the bus in this redundant file photo.

To encourage contactless payments, BBB is offering a free 30 Day pass and discounted Single Rides to customers who pay their fare with a TAP card or mobile ticket. Customers may redeem one (1) free BBB 30 Day pass during the promotional period, from now through Thursday, July 22. BBB will also maintain its Single Ride discounts for TAP and mobile ticket users during the pilot. Regular customers only pay $1 per trip and Senior/Disabled/Medicare customers pay $0.40 per trip.

To access the free 30 Day Pass and for more details, visit bigbluebus.com/quitcash.

About Big Blue Bus

Big Blue Bus operates a fleet of 189 vehicles transporting passengers daily across a 58-square mile service area. Nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to a cleaner environment, the agency added its first zero-emission bus in 2019. The rest of the fleet operates on other alternative fuels, including renewable natural gas (RNG), a form of liquefied and compressed natural gas (LNG/CNG), which helps cut emissions by up to 90 percent. Serving Santa Monica and the Los Angeles area since 1928, Big Blue Bus has won numerous awards for its marketing, customer service, safety, and efficiency.

 

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