How We’re Making MODE Successful and Sustainable

April 29, 2019
by Ed King

How We’re Making MODE Successful and Sustainable

Since Big Blue Bus (BBB) launched the MODE (Mobility On-Demand Every Day) program in July 2018, members have taken nearly 30,000 trips to medical appointments, shopping destinations, social events, and more. In fact, MODE is carrying more than twice as many riders per day than the former Dial-a-Ride (DAR) program, while operating under the same budget.

When BBB decided to re-envision the dial-a-ride program, we wanted to ensure that we could serve as many customers as possible all within a fixed budget. Our partnership with Lyft allows us to significantly lower trip costs (from $22.45 in 2018 to $12.06 per trip so far in 2019), have an unlimited pool of cars during hours of operation, and reduce the number of service refusals which were all too common with dial-a-ride. It also introduces new technology and more convenient forms of payment.

In order to ensure that the program remains sustainable and accessible to all eligible members of the community, BBB is proposing changes to MODE. We recently went out to the community with a proposal on program modifications to fares, monthly trip caps (from 40 to 36), and minimum age requirements.

Here’s what you need to know about what is proposed:

  1. Offers lower fares to those most in need by using an income verification process that would also help qualify customers for discounts or free rides on bus and rail. Approximately 70% of all current MODE customers would qualify for low-income fares. The low-income fare proposed for this year would increase the fare by $0.25.
  2. Regular riders could see a fare increase of $1.50, to $2 that would go into effect September 2019 through December 2020.
  3. Monthly trip caps would range from 40 to 36. Based on current travel patterns, 98% of members would be unaffected by this small change.
  4. A personal care attendant or companion would ride for free with a member. Members currently pay an additional $0.25 cents to bring along a personal care attendant or companion.
  5. Raise the minimum age requirement from 60 to 62 to align with regional age standards for reduced senior fares. Current members would receive an exemption from the new requirement and would continue to enjoy their membership benefits.

The transition to MODE from dial-a-ride has dramatically expanded transportation options for older adults and persons with disabilities with 100 new participants signing on each month. Many customers have shared that our revamped program has been truly life changing and has enabled them to move with ease. With those residents in mind, we are working to preserve and enhance the program for years to come.

We encourage members to share their feedback by visiting, writing a letter (Attn: MODE Program Manager, 1660 7th St., Santa Monica, 90401) or contacting the MODE Call Center at (310) 458-6633. Please note, based on the initial feedback we are receiving from members the proposed fare structure may be modified prior to our City Council meeting in June.

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