Big Blue Bus: Wikis


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Slogan Ride Blue. Go Green
Founded 1928
Headquarters Santa Monica, California
Locale Santa Monica, Westwood, and Venice, California
Service area  United States
Service type Transit Bus, Bus Rapid Transit
Routes 18
Fleet 240
Daily ridership 56,283 (2005)[1]
Fuel type Diesel, LNG
Operator City of Santa Monica, California
Web site
For other bus operators known as Blue Bus, see Blue Bus (Disambiguation)

The Big Blue Bus is a municipal bus operator in the Westside region of Los Angeles, providing both local and bus rapid transit service in Santa Monica and adjacent neighborhoods of Los Angeles (including LAX). Express service is also provided to Downtown Los Angeles and Union Station.



In 1928, the City of Santa Monica launched their first route. Choosing a blue livery, it was originally called Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines. It kept their base fare at 10 cents for an extensive period of time. The impetus for the creation was a fare increase on the Pacific Electric interurban trains between Santa Monica and Los Angeles. The Santa Monica bus would connect with the Los Angeles Railway streetcars at Pico and Rimpau Boulevards in the Mid-City section of Los Angeles. That historic terminus point has become an important transit center in Los Angeles simply because it is the point where thousands of bus riders along Pico Boulevard must transfer to continue their trips eastward to Downtown Los Angeles or westward to the Westside.

The Big Blue Bus is considered one of the best bus services in the Los Angeles area. The system won the American Public Transportation Association’s Outstanding Transportation System award in 1987, 1992, 1997 and 2000. The Big Blue Bus did not raise its regular fare above 50 cents until 2002, when it became 75 cents. In contrast, most public bus lines in California were charging fares of a dollar or more well before 2000. On the other hand, there is no monthly pass except for the EZ Pass and unlike all other EZ Pass agencies, Metrolink tickets are not accepted. Schedules for the buses are also less frequent when compared to some Metro lines (especially the Rapids). However, allowing for the inevitability of traffic delays on weekday afternoons, the Big Blue Bus system provides frequent and convenient service to most neighborhoods in its service area. Its usefulness to UCLA students is outstanding, as so many of its routes terminate there.

The Big Blue Bus was one of the last transit agencies using the GMC New Look buses; they were retired in 2005. The only remaining new look in the fleet is #5180, which was the last bus built by GM.

The system was started by former Brentwood resident Ruldolph F. Brunner, who later sold the system thinking it wouldn't amount to any more than a few dollars a week.

Some Popular Destinations

Big Blue Bus provides service to the following popular destinations:

  • Century City
  • Downtown Los Angeles
  • Downtown Santa Monica
  • Los Angeles Convention Center
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Metro Green Line Aviation Station
  • Rimpau Transit Center
  • Santa Monica Civic Center
  • Santa Monica College
  • UCLA
  • Union Station
  • Venice Beach
  • Will Rogers State Beach


The Rapid 3 and Rapid 7 are listed in the Metro Rapid article, as they are part of the Metro Rapid network.

Route Terminals via Notes
UCLA Transit Center (weekdays)
Windward Avenue and Main Street
Santa Monica Boulevard
  • Daily service (5a-Midnight)
Ackerman Terminal (evenings and weekends)
UCLA Transit Center (weekdays)
Venice Boulevard and Walgrove Avenue
Wilshire Boulevard
  • Daily service (6a-11p)
Ackerman Terminal (evenings and weekends)
UCLA Transit Center (weekdays)
Aviation Green Line station Montana Avenue, Lincoln Boulevard
  • Daily service (5a-Midnight)
  • Operates alongside the Rapid 3
Ackerman Terminal (evenings and weekends)
Santa Monica
Santa Monica City Hall
West LA
Westside Pavilion
San Vicente Boulevard, Carlye Avenue
  • Daily service (6a-6p)
Santa Monica
Arizona Avenue and Fifth Street
Pico Boulevard and Rimpau Boulevard
Olympic Boulevard
  • Daily service (5:30a-10p)
SMC Commuter
Santa Monica College
Main Campus
Venice Boulevard and Culver Boulevard
Bundy Drive, Centinela Avenue, Palms Boulevard
  • Operates weekdays only in the peak direction (8:15a-10:05a to SMC; 1:36p-7:40p from SMC)
  • Operates only when classes are in session
Santa Monica
Santa Monica Place
Pico Boulevard and Rimpau Boulevard
Pico Boulevard
  • Daily service (4:45a-11:45p)
  • Operates alongside the Rapid 7
Santa Monica
Santa Monica Place
UCLA Transit Center (weekdays)
Ocean Park Boulevard, National Boulevard, Westwood Boulevard
  • Daily service (6a-10:30p)
Ackerman Terminal (evenings and weekends)
Pacific Palisades
Sunset Boulevard and Marquez Avenue
Santa Monica
Colorado Avenue and Second-Fourth Streets
Sunset Boulevard, Entrada Drive
  • Daily service (6a-10p)
Santa Monica
Second Street and Colorado Avenue (daily)
Downtown LA
Cesar E. Chavez Avenue and Vignes Street
In Santa Monica: Santa Monica Boulevard
Express Portion: Santa Monica Freeway
In Downtown LA: Grand & Olive Streets
  • Daily service (5a-10p)
Ocean Park
Main Street and Marine Street (rush hours)
UCLA Transit Center (weekdays)
Culver City
Olympic Bolevard and LaCienega Boulevard
Westwood Boulevard, Palms Boulevard
  • Daily service (6a-11p)
  • Operates alongside the Super 12
Ackerman Terminal (evenings and weekends)
Super 12
UCLA Commuter
Ackerman Terminal
Venice Boulevard and National Boulevard
Westwood Boulevard, Palms Boulevard
  • Operates rush hours only (6a-10a to UCLA; 2p-6p from UCLA)
  • Operates alongside Line 12
West LA
Westside Pavilion
Pico Boulevard and Rimpau Boulevard
Pico Boulevard, Motor Avenue
  • Operates weekdays and Saturdays (6a-9a to Mid-City; 2p-5p to West LA)
Sepulveda Boulevard and Moraga Drive
Culver City
Culver Boulevard and Centinela Avenue
Bundy Drive, Centinela Avenue
  • Daily service (6a-10p)
VA Commuter
Veterans Administration Medical Center
Building 66
Pico Boulevard and Rimpau Boulevard
Sawtelle Boulevard, Olympic & Pico Boulevards
  • Operates weekdays only (5:54a-7:03a to VA Medical Center; 3:36p-7:07p to Mid-City)
Mini Blue
Crosstown Ride
Santa Monica
20th Street and Montana Avenue
Ocean Park
14th Street and Pearl Street
14th &20th Streets (service operates in a loop)
  • Operates weekdays only (6:59-10:10p)
Mini Blue
Sunset Ride
Santa Monica
Colorado Avenue and 20th Street
Santa Monica Airport
Bundy Drive and Airport Avenue
Ocean Park Boulevard
  • Operates weekdays only (7a-6p)
Mini Blue
Tide Ride
Santa Monica
Santa Monica Boulevard and Seventh Street
Marine Street and Neilson Way
Fourth Street, Main Street, Bernard Way (service operates in a loop)
  • Daily service (Su-Th: Noon-8p; Fr/Sa: Noon-10:02p)

Bus Fleet

UCLA bus terminal on Hilgard Avenue
Route 10 express in Los Angeles


Model Length (feet) Year Bus Numbers Fleet total Fuel Type Notes
MCI TC40102A Classic 40' 1988-1990 5181-5210 30 Diesel 1
NovaBus TC40102A Classic 40' 1995 4801-4821 19 Diesel
New Flyer D40LF 40' 1997-1998 3801-3867 67 Diesel 2
Thomas Built Buses SLF 230 30' 2001 2606-2615 10 Biofuel 3
NABI 40-LFW 40' 2002 4001-4037 37 LNG 4
MCI D4500 45' 2002 5501-5504 4 Diesel 5
New Flyer L40LF 40' 2004-2005 4038-4089 61 LNG 6,7
New Flyer L40LF 40' 2007 4090-4099 10 LNG 7


  1. Many retired, including 4951-4960. Some retired have been used on services other than Big Blue Bus
  2. Some of these buses are powered by biofuel
  3. These buses run on biofuel and are painted in special metallic blue paint with "mini blue" text for the mini blue lines.
  4. Originally ordered to be 40C-LFWs, but order changed to standard 40-LFWs.
  5. Used for charter services.
  6. 4069-4072,4078-4089,4091-4099 are in the Rapid Blue service and signal priority transceivers for use on the Rapid 3 and Rapid 7 bus lines.
  7. Some were converted into the Rapid Blue service.

Big Blue Buses in popular culture


The most famous Big Blue Bus is probably the one rigged with a bomb in 1994's hit movie Speed. Driving through Los Angeles at rush hour, the driver cannot slow down below 50 mph (80 km/h) or the bomb on the bus will detonate.

The bus operator in the movie is called the Santa Monica Intercity Bus Lines, a barely fictionalized version of the Big Blue Bus's official name, the Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines. Even more tellingly, the bus in the film is a General Motors "New Look" bus, introduced in 1959 but kept in prominent and active service by Santa Monica until early 2005, long after most other American cities had retired the retro-looking bus.

In another effort to differentiate the movie's bus from any real-world bus, the headsigns on the Speed bus display:

33 Downtown L.A.
via Freeway

However, number 33 buses are operated by Metro, not Big Blue, and run on Venice Boulevard, not the Santa Monica Freeway. The closest thing to the movie bus's routing is Santa Monica's number 10 express route.

The bus number was 2525, not within any equipment number range operated by the real company at that time.

It should also be noted that at the time the movie was released, Santa Monica's GM New Look fleet were the Canadian-built versions with wheelchair lifts; the US-built version were retired in 1990 to make room for the Classics.

Jimmy Kimmel Live!

In an episode that originally aired on May 15, 2007, the ABC late-night show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, was filmed on a New Flyer L40LF model LNG bus. In this episode, titled Jimmy Kimmel Live on a Bus, Kimmel sat behind the desk, which was rigged to fit in a bus. This particular Santa Monica Big Blue Bus that was used in the episode was driven by veteran bus driver Erskins Robinson, who picked up unsuspecting passengers along his route. The celebrity guests who appeared in the Jimmy Kimmel Live on a Bus episode were Paula Abdul, Flavor Flav, and musical guest Feist.

The Doors

A Big Blue Bus is referred to twice in The Doors's classic 1967 song "The End", when singer Jim Morrison says "The blue bus is calling us", and "Meet me at the back of the blue bus".

External links


  1. ^ According to the Big Blue Bus Facts webpage, there were a total of 20,543,294 fixed route bus passengers in 2005. Dividing that number by 365, gives an average of 56,283 passengers per day.


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