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State Gives BBB Nearly $23 Million to Electrify Fleet

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By Lookout Staff

April 28, 2023 -- Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus (BBB) has received a $22.9 million State grant to purchase 5 battery electric buses (BEBs) and develop infrastructure to charge up to 104 buses, City officials announced Thursday.

The Grant from the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) will boost the number of zero-emission buses in BBB's fleet to 39, transportation agency officials said.

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The funds also will "support electric utility and charging equipment upgrades at BBB’s depot, including construction of a large canopy with overhead reel charging dispensers," officials said.

“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,” said Ed King, director of the City's Transportation Department.

“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,” King said.

The grant comes two months after the City Council approved an $18 million contract to add as many as 15 battery electric buses, helping transition the fleet to zero emissions buses by 2030 ("Santa Monica to Add 15 Electric Buses," February 23, 2023).

The new buses will replace 15 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses purchased in 2010 and 2011 that are currently due for replacement, bringing the total number of battery electric buses to 34 since the first one was added in 2019.

In addition, the grant will "allow BBB to create green jobs" and "provide over 1,100 hours of advanced, high-voltage safety training for its staff," transit officials said.

The new buses will be deployed on Route 3 and Rapid 3 "as part of a comprehensive plan to reimagine service" on Lincoln Boulevard between Downtown Santa Monica and LAX, officials said.

"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," transit officials said.

In addition, one mile of bus lanes will be implemented on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice during peak hours.

In all, 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."

BBB is one of 28 transit agencies 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," officials said.

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