April 27, 2023 8:19 AM
SANTA MONICA, Calif. – The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) announced that
Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus (BBB) will receive a $22.9 million grant to
purchase 5 battery electric buses (BEBs) and develop infrastructure to support
on-site charging for more than 100 buses. BBB is one of 28 transit agencies in
California to be awarded grant funding through CalSTA’s Transit and
Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP), as part of a multiyear investment to
upgrade the state’s transit system to support transportation equity, improve
service and mobility options, and reduce overdependence on driving.
Specifically, the funding will help BBB complete
Phases 2 through 4 of its Fleet Electrification Master Plan, which outlines the
agency’s fleet transition from renewable natural gas to zero-emission by 2030.
The award will support electric utility and charging equipment upgrades at
BBB’s depot, including construction of a large canopy with overhead reel
charging dispensers. The grant will also allow BBB to create green jobs,
provide over 1,100 hours of advanced, high-voltage safety training for its
staff in partnership with the California Transit Training Consortium, and
improve transportation outcomes for marginalized communities disproportionately
burdened by climate change.
Further, BBB will use TIRCP funds to enhance the customer
experience, by purchasing and deploying 5 BEBs on Route 3 and Rapid 3, as part
of a comprehensive plan to reimagine service along the Lincoln Boulevard
corridor, between Downtown Santa Monica and Los Angeles International Airport
(LAX). Route 3 and Rapid 3 will be rerouted to connect to both the Metro Rail K
Line and the LAX People Mover, when the new LAX/Metro Transit Center is
completed in 2024. Moreover, one additional mile of bus lanes will be
implemented on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice during peak hours, and BBB will add
11,500 service hours annually on Route 3 and Rapid 3, to increase
frequency to every 10 minutes most of the day.
“This is a landmark moment for Big Blue Bus and the
City of Santa Monica in our collective efforts to realize carbon emission
reduction goals; provide frequent, sustainable, and equitable transit service
to low-income and disadvantaged communities; and strengthen the region’s
transportation network,” said Ed King, Director of Santa Monica’s Department of
Transportation. “The funds will be used to make substantial investments in
climate and workforce resilience, as well as capital improvement projects that
increase ridership and improve the customer experience on our system.”
During Phase 1 of its Fleet Electrification Master
Plan, BBB installed 20 standalone chargers at its depot and purchased 19 BEBs.
In February 2023, the Santa Monica City Council approved BBB’s request to
purchase 15 additional BEBs. The funds received from CalSTA’s
TIRCP will elevate the agency’s number of zero-emission buses to 39, and support the construction of infrastructure capable
of charging up to 104 buses at its depot.
TIRCP provides grants from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, to fund transformative capital improvements that modernize California’s transportation systems and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, vehicle miles traveled, and congestion.
Community Engagement Administrator