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Transportation Director Ed King to Retire

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By Jorge Casuso

June 9, 2023 -- Ed King -- who rose through the transportation ranks from traffic checker to bus driver to eventually heading Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus (BBB) -- is retiring after 46 years of service, City officials announced Friday.

In addition to running the bus system for the past 12 years, King most recently was named Transportation Director, which put him in charge of maintaining and operating 5,600 on-street parking meters and 46 parking facilities.

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“In his distinguished tenure, Ed has made tremendous improvements to Santa Monica’s transportation network,” said City Manager David White.

“He adopted sustainable solutions for our transit fleet, restored services through our economic recovery efforts, and led the Department of Transportation through the challenges of COVID-19.

"I thank Ed for his steadfast leadership and years of service to our community,” White said.

Under King's watch, the BBB became one of the nation's first transit systems to transition its entire fleet from diesel to renewable natural gas (RNG)in 2015.

Four years later, it introduced Santa Monica's first battery-electric bus, establishing a Fleet Electrification Master Plan to reach a 100 percent zero-emissions fleet by 2030.

In addition, BBB completed an award-winning transit system redesign in 2016 that resulted in "six new bus routes" and "53,000 additional annual revenue service hours," City officials said.

The redesign also resulted in the construction of more 230 Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible bus stops and first-last mile improvements through integration with seven E Line (Expo) stations.

But during his 12-year tenure, BBB also hit some humps -- King's efforts to transition to an entirely cashless system was reversed by the Council -- and the system encountered major obstacles it continues to navigate.

For the past dozen years, BBB saw ridership decline every year -- plummeting from more than 22.3 million riders in 2010 to 6.3 million last year.

During the pandemic, with the loss of student riders and 46 motorcoach operators, BBB saw passenger miles traveled drop from 45.5 million in 2019 to 22.3 million in the last fiscal year.

While running BBB, King also oversaw in his role as Transportation Director the expansion of Santa Monica’s bikeway network to more than 120 miles and the implementation of pedestrian access and safety improvements along high-traffic corridors.

In addition, the City partnered with rideshare company Lyft to launch Santa Monica’s Mobility On-Demand Every Day (MODE) Program, which has provided nearly 200,000 sedan and wheelchair van rides to eligible residents since its inception in 2018.

“I started my career in transportation as a traffic checker, then bus operator at the Regional Transportation Authority in Chicago, and am grateful to have worked alongside many remarkable, innovative, and resilient colleagues along the way,” King said in a statement.

“I have been driven by the meaningful work of keeping communities connected to essential services and opportunities that improve social and economic well-being, and expanding access to safe, sustainable, affordable, and equitable integrated transportation options.”

King’s last day will be August 9.

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