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Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus Hires New Chief Operations Officer  

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By Lookout Staff

February 3, 2017 -- Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus (BBB) has hired a Long Beach transit executive to serve as the agency's Chief Operations Officer, BBB officials announced Thursday.

Rolando Cruz -- who served as Executive Director and Vice President of Maintenance and Facilities at Long Beach Transit -- will oversee business operations.

Cruz brings two decades of experience in transit and is a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Texas, BBB officials said.

BBB Director of Transit Services Ed King said Cruz comes on board at a crossroads for the agency, which operates a fleet of 200 vehicles and serves more than 54,000 passengers daily.

"He is entering the agency at a time when we face many new challenges," King said, "but it is also a time of defining moments in our organization’s history where we will establish new standards that raise the bar for service delivery to the Westside of Los Angeles and the City of Santa Monica.”

The City's bus system has lost ridership over the past six years, with the number of passengers dropping to about 16.5 million at the end of the 2015-2016 fiscal year from about 18.7 million riders the previous year, an almost 12 percent decrease ("Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus Continues Losing Riders," November 8, 2016).

Agency officials hope the arrival of the Expo Light rail line in Santa Monica last May will reverse the trend and has expanded staffing and service ("All Aboard Santa Monica’s New Light Rail Line," May 20, 2016).

Last year, BBB hired a record 54 new staff members including Motor Coach Operators, Maintenance Technicians, Operations and Maintenance Supervisors and managers.

It also added six new routes, 56,000 new revenue service hours, ten more buses in peak service and 225 new bus stops to its system, officials said.

"Initial counts after the opening of the Expo extension show 15 percent of all BBB passengers now making rail connections, more than double the number of passengers connecting to BBB from rail prior to the Expo extension," agency officials said.

Cruz is a board member and former chair of the Southern California Regional Transit Training Consortium and serves as co-chair of the California Transit Association Maintenance Committee.

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