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One of the new Big Blue Bus stops on Main Street. Officials say they will modify elements of its new bus stops to improve seating capacity and functionality.
Courtesy photo
One of the new Big Blue Bus stops on Main Street. Officials say they will modify elements of its new bus stops to improve seating capacity and functionality.

News, Opinion, Big Blue Bus, Santa Monica

Letter To The Editor: Big Blue Bus Stops Biggest Mistake Santa Monica Has Ever Made

Posted Jul. 14, 2014, 9:17 am

Letter To The Editor

Dear Editor,

I am recently back from college and looking at the city with fresh eyes, I was astonished at the new bus benches. In fact, I’m pretty sure I doubled over with laughter when I laid my eyes on my first one. Yep, you guessed it, this is yet another Letter to the Editor about possibly the biggest mistake carbon footprint-conscious Santa Monica has ever made…ever.

Let me preface this by saying that I appreciate the attempt made to sprinkle sleek style and a Design Within Reach-like essence onto the streets of our beach-side town but this reach exceeds its grasp. Why? Keep reading.

1. Absolutely no coverage from the elements is provided. If it’s raining, good luck. Hope you brought an umbrella, pal. If it’s a scorcher you’re on your own and you better hope you’re prepared with SPF 50 because if not, you may develop a skin cancer before the bus even gets there.

2. Two is company. Three’s a crowd. And usually there are more than two people waiting for the bus at a time. Hello? Rush hour. And if you want to sit down, you are basically required to get on very intimate terms with a complete stranger. Plus, if you are disabled or elderly, the seats are low to the ground and difficult to get up from considering they lack handles and other supports. Not to mention, the seats are incredibly small. I mean let’s face it, you have to be a rail to sit down.

3. On that same end, the seats are backless. If you are coming off a long day of work and you’ve been on your feet all day, you’d probably like to rest your overworked, overtired back. Sorry. You’re out of luck.

The whole idea of amping up the bus stop is to encourage people to ditch the car and take public transport. But with these new bus benches it’s not getting any easier being green, or in this case, blue. The whole design is almost like a punishment for riding the bus, not an incentive. And I fear that this new bus stop is just making more people want to put a down payment on a car, fast.

A recent article in the Santa Monica Mirror entitled “Big Blue Bus to modify new bus stops,” assures avid bus riders that adjustments are to be made to the new configuration, but the modifications don’t sound all that promising. With “changes” on the way, it is not unnatural to ask how much this whole project is going to cost us when all is said and done. So? How much? We want answers!

Another question worth asking is why the designers behind the project did not first test out one or two new bus stops and then get riders to weigh in on their bus-waiting experience. It’s tragic that so many complaints have been made after so much money has been spent and so many hours of labor have gone into these bus benches only for them to have to undergo modification.

But no matter how much was spent and how much energy was exerted, one thing is for sure, something needs to be done to make the twelve-minute wait for the bus easier. After all, the riders aren’t waiting for Godot, they’re just waiting for the Big Blue.

Chelsea Brandwein

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Jul. 14, 2014, 9:51:42 am

Brad said...

With the mayor eating everything in sight and a bunch of money hungry city councilors selling our city out to the highest bidder, it's no wonder this kind of junk happens. We need a regime change. Vote every last one of them out next election!!

Jul. 14, 2014, 9:34:47 am

Roger Brandy said...

Great letter. Telling it like it is.

Jul. 14, 2014, 10:02:07 am

john b. said...

so if you're taking the bus and you need to wait bring sunscreen, an umbrella, and a folding chair

Jul. 14, 2014, 10:36:35 am

P said...

I could not agree with this more. I've been somewhere between laughing and being angry as I see these. Yes, we do get rain here. Yes, we do have scorching hot days. And yes, there ore often more than two people waiting for the bus whose backs might be hurting. What genius made the design and the decision about this???

Jul. 14, 2014, 10:37:33 am

Concerned Citizen said...

I have to agree. I also have to agree with the commenter who said that SM is selling out to the highest bidder. It is a shame what you corporate wh%$es are doing to this once great city.

Jul. 14, 2014, 10:41:48 am

Concerned Citizen said...

PS, While those bus stops are an insult, pure and simple, they are not the biggest mistake SM has ever made. SM has been rolling out the red carpet for developers for a long time now. THAT is the biggest mistake this city ever made.

Jul. 14, 2014, 10:59:16 am

Nancy K said...

Aside from the silly design, I would like to comment on the overtime wages paid while installing these. At least along Ocean Park, the workers were not seen during regular business hours, but often past 6:00 pm working!

Jul. 14, 2014, 11:58:21 am

Doug said...

I have a good life in Santa Monica and I dont hate the Mayor and City Council. But the bus stop changes are incredibly stupid and I dont believe the claim that rider input was sought beforehand.

Jul. 14, 2014, 12:53:55 pm

Bernd said...

The bust stop issue reminds me of the problem with the new super trains that were built in some European country, very recently: after having built the whole lot, they did not fit into the stations. The designers had failed to test them on the existing rails. (Billions were involved.)

Jul. 14, 2014, 1:22:21 pm

Cindy said...

Agree wholeheartedly with Chelsea. There is no protection from the elements and the seats are a joke. Really? Whomever designed those clearly never takes public transportation. Too bad the city didn't see fit to take some kind of survey from the people who depend on the buses. Oh wait, we are talking about the City of Santa Monica.......

Jul. 14, 2014, 3:07:12 pm

Jill said...

" Form follows function" I thought was design 101. But then again we have the Soviet inspired Condo's and Apt. building that have blighted our landscape. The poor Tongva people who have a concrete park named after them Santa Monica is just deplete of Architects and Designers??.

Jul. 14, 2014, 5:10:32 pm

D'Lynn said...

Follow the money- who made the decision and who profited from it. Certainly neither the public nor common sense was involved. But they did provide a solution to the seat backs problem. By having the two little round seats face different directions, people can rest against each other. Anyone with limited strength in their legs will land with a thud (hopefully on the seat and not the sidewalk) and then never be able to get up again from where ever they did land.

Jul. 14, 2014, 7:06:56 pm

rosario perry said...

Don't you get it? These are bureaucrats spending other people's money. They don't care about serviceability; and they will not be help accountable. Complaining about the City and its mistakes, is like yelling into the wind. We are only guests in this City.

Jul. 14, 2014, 10:12:24 pm

Jill said...

A friend and I took the number 8 bus down to Santa Monica last Saturday. Finding the bus stop for our return journey was a challenge. Our next challenge was stepping off the bus which was a scene from " Annie Hall". Pulling up to the curb was not a Blue Bus thing. We both understood we being dropped off feet into the road and we hoped God was on our side. No elderly Santa Monica person could ride the B.B.B.

Jul. 14, 2014, 10:40:26 pm

L said...

Seems like Doug is a paid troll for the city.

Jul. 15, 2014, 7:28:55 am

Norm said...

wait to see what happens when they close the airport - we will get a wall of condos, hotels, costco, affordable apts, homeless shelter and a little park. Then we will get a tax increase to pay for the park.

Jul. 15, 2014, 10:46:42 am

ted said...

I'd be curious as to how many decision-makers on this project actually ride the bus on a regular basis. Just like I'd like to know how city council people are affected by the gridlocked traffic.

Jul. 15, 2014, 11:04:23 am

Molly Elkin said...

I encourage all disgruntled residents to attend city council meetings and tell these greedy a-holes to their faces! They are raking in the dough while building their empires on the beach. Let's make a change!!!

Jul. 15, 2014, 2:24:44 pm

E T said...

Chelsea ! You so totally nailed it ! We think exactly the same thing and say it each time we see one of the toy bus stops... To not try only one out to get feedback was so insane !Obviously, nobody involved in this decision takes the bus ! thank you for finally saying it !!! This is absurd !

Jul. 15, 2014, 3:10:18 pm

Peter S. said...

Great letter and I hope the politicians and BBB read it. It's time for change in SM, from planning comission to city council. God, what a waste of $$! I say Chelsea run for council.

Jul. 15, 2014, 3:28:56 pm

Mr.K said...

I agree wholeheartedly with most of the comments below. It smells of 'inside trading' and kick backs. Also the designer of these so called bus stops is architect Lorcan O'Herlihy, a pedestrian designer at best. WHO!!! I ask, decided on this design firm in the first place..

Jul. 21, 2014, 3:54:49 pm

Chelsea Brandwein said...

Thank you so much for all the support following the publication of this article! It seems as if we have come to a consensus, the new bus benches leave riders feeling big and blue! :)

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