Big Blue Bus

Big Blue Bus (stylized, big blue bus) is a municipal bus service serving the city of Santa Monica and the greater Westside region of Los Angeles County. The service, operated by the city of Santa Monica, was founded on April 14, 1928 and throughout its existence has used a blue color scheme for its buses, leading to the Big Blue Bus nickname that would later become the official name of the agency. In 2021, the system had a ridership of 5,500,200, or about 22,500 per weekday as of the second quarter of 2022. Big Blue Bus receives funding from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and offers connections to its Metro Bus and Metro Rail systems, but is operated independent from Metro.

Big Blue Bus
SMBBB Logo.svg
Big Blue Bus at UCLA Hilgard Terminal
ParentCity of Santa Monica
HeadquartersSanta Monica, California
LocaleSanta Monica, Westwood, and Venice, California
Service areaUnited States
Service typeTransit Bus
Daily ridership22,500 (weekdays, Q2 2022)[2]
Annual ridership5,500,200 (2021)[3]
Fuel typeCNG, LNG
OperatorCity of Santa Monica
Chief executiveEdward F. King


The agency was founded on April 14, 1928 as the Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines and the agency picked a unique blue color scheme for its buses, later leading to the Big Blue Bus nickname.[4] It holds the distinction of being the second oldest public transit bus system still operating in Los Angeles County, only the neighboring Culver CityBus (founded March 4, 1928) is older.[5]

Santa Monica established the bus line in response to a fare increase on the Pacific Electric interurban trains between Santa Monica and Los Angeles.[6]

While independent from other agencies in the Los Angeles area, the Big Blue Bus has always offered connections to the other systems, most notably near the intersections of Pico and Rimpau Boulevards in the Mid-City section of Los Angeles. The historic transfer point was established by Santa Monica, the Los Angeles Railway and Pacific Electric Railway and is known today as the Pico/Rimpau Transit Center and is used the Big Blue Bus and Metro Bus.[6]

In 1978, Santa Monica became the first transit operator in California to operate a bus with a wheelchair lift, the Grumman-Flxible Model 870. It was the third agency to order the bus after Atlanta's MARTA, and Connecticut's CT Transit. The Big Blue Bus was one of the last transit agencies using the iconic GMC New Look "fishbowl" bus, the last of which was retired in 2005.

The Big Blue Bus has been honored with the American Public Transportation Association’s Outstanding Transportation System award in 1987, 1992, 1997, 2000 and 2011.[7]


Big Blue Bus operates 19 bus lines: 14 local routes, four Rapid routes and one express route.

Route Terminals Via Days of Operation# Notes
UCLA Venice
Windward Circle
Santa Monica Bl, Main St Daily
UCLA Santa Monica
Civic Auditorium
Wilshire Bl Daily
Santa Monica
Arizona Av & 5th St
Aviation/LAX station
Lincoln Bl Daily
Rapid 3
Santa Monica
Arizona Av & 5th St
Aviation/LAX station
Lincoln Bl Weekdays, peak hours
  • Operates alongside Line 3
  • Serves LAX City Bus Center
  • See also: Metro Rapid
Santa Monica
Civic Auditorium
Palms station
Colorado Av, Olympic Bl, Motor Av Weekdays
Santa Monica
7th St & Olympic Bl
Wilshire/Western station
Pico Bl Daily
  • Operates alongside Rapid 7 & Express 7
  • Three trips westbound in the morning and three trips eastbound in the afternoon deviate from Pico Bl to serve Beverlywood.
Rapid 7
Santa Monica
7th St & Olympic Bl
Wilshire/Western station
Pico Bl Weekdays
  • Operates alongside Line 7 & Express 7
  • See also: Metro Rapid
Express 7
Santa Monica
7th St & Olympic Bl
Wilshire/Western station
Pico Bl Weekdays
Santa Monica
7th St & Olympic Bl
UCLA Ocean Park Bl, National Bl, Westwood Bl Daily
Pacific Palisades
Sunset Bl & Marquez Av
Santa Monica
Civic Auditorium
Sunset Bl, Chatauqua Bl, 4th St Daily
Rapid 10
Santa Monica
2nd St & Colorado Av
Downtown Los Angeles
Main St & Alameda St
In Santa Monica: Santa Monica Bl, Bundy Dr
Express Portion: Santa Monica Freeway
In Downtown LA: Grand Av/Olive St, Figueroa St/Flower St, Temple St
Weekday, peak hours
  • See also: Metro Rapid
  • Operates into Downtown LA in the AM rush and into Downtown Santa Monica in the PM rush
Rapid 12
Gateway Plaza
Culver City
Overland Av & Venice Bl
Westwood Bl, Overland Av Daily
Bringham Av & Gorham Av
Playa Vista
Artisans Wy & Centinela Av
Bundy Dr, Centinela Av Daily
Barrington Pl & Chayote St
West Los Angeles
Expo/Bundy station
Barrington Av Weekdays
Marina del Rey
Lincoln Bl & Mindanao Wy
West Los Angeles
Saltair Ave & Wilshire Bl
Walgrove Av, 23rd St, 20th St Weekdays
Macgowan Hall Terminal
Culver City
Culver City station
Sawtelle Bl, Palms Bl Daily
Gateway Plaza
Marina Del Rey
Via Marina & Admiralty Wy
Montana Av, 4th St Daily
41 Santa Monica
14th St & Pico Bl
14th St, 20th St Daily
  • Service operates in a clockwise loop and terminates at 14th St & Pico Bl
  • Operates opposite of Line 42
Santa Monica
Santa Monica College (16th St & Pico Bl)
20th St, 14th St Weekdays
  • Service operates in a counterclockwise loop and terminates at Santa Monica College (16th St & Pico Bl)
  • Operates opposite of Line 41
Santa Monica
Santa Monica College (16th St & Pico Bl)
Santa Monica
San Vicente Bl & 14th St
26th St, San Vicente Bl Weekdays, peak hours
  • Select eastbound trips serve Paul Revere Middle School.
44 Santa Monica
17th Street/Santa Monica College station

West Los Angeles
Santa Monica College Bundy Campus

Bundy Dr, Ocean Park Bl, 14th St, 17th St School days
  • Service connects the 17th Street/Santa Monica College station, the Santa Monica College Main Campus, and the Santa Monica College Bundy Campus.
  • Limited service when Santa Monica College is not in session.
Routes 1, 2, and 8 terminate at the UCLA Hilgard Terminal (Hilgard Av at Strathmore Dr) weekdays between 7am and 8pm, all other trips terminate at the UCLA CEY/P2 Hub (Charles E Young Dr at Parking Structure 2).[8]



Manufacturer Model Length Image Order Year Fleet Series (Quantity) Fuel Notes
New Flyer L40LF 40-foot   2004–05 4048, 4051, 4053, 4059, 4063, 4070, 4086–4089 (10) LNG
  • As of June 2019 only 10 remain in service
40-foot   2006 4090–4099 (10)
  • Last New Flyer L40LF buses ever built
NABI 60-BRT 60-foot   2010/2012 5300–5320 (21) CNG
  • Used primarily on Rapid services
  • 5300–5315 are 2010 models
  • 5316–5320 are 2012 models
40-LFW 40-foot   2011 3868–3876 (9)
ElDorado National E-Z Rider II BRT 32-foot   2010/2012 2900–2914 (15)
  • 2900–2904 are 2010 models delivered as gasoline-electric hybrids and later converted to CNG
  • 2905–2915 are 2012 models
New Flyer XN60 60-foot   2015 1560–1566 (7)[9][10]
  • Used primarily on Rapid services
Gillig BRT 40-foot   2012–2014 1300–1357 (58)
2015 1500–1510 (11)[11]
2017 1701–1725 (25)
2018 1808–1826 (19)
29-foot   2016 1600–1603 (4)
2018 1801–1807 (7)


On November 20, 2012, a Big Blue Bus turned left in front of an oncoming motorcyclist, which resulted in the 25-year-old man's death. The accident occurred at approximately 10:33 a.m. at the triangular intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Marquez in the Pacific Palisades. Only buses are allowed to make the left turn, a maneuver that has been determined to be too dangerous for other vehicles.

On June 7, 2013, Bus 4057 of Big Blue Bus was among several vehicles fired at during a thirteen-minute killing spree that left six people dead, including the gunman, and four others wounded. Three women suffered minor injuries aboard the bus, one from shrapnel-type injuries and the other two from injuries unrelated to the gunfire.[12] Approximately two dozen people were inside the bus at the time of the shooting. The attack on Bus 4057 marked the first time a Big Blue Bus came under attack by a gunman in its 85-year service.[13]

In popular cultureEdit


Two humorous slogans Santa Monica Bank used on Big Blue Buses appeared in the film Speed.[14] The bus operator in the movie is called the Santa Monica Intercity Bus Lines, a fictionalized version of the Big Blue Bus's official name, the Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines.

Raymond ChandlerEdit

In Raymond Chandler's novel Farewell, My Lovely, first published in 1940, he writes as protagonist Philip Marlowe, describing a scene in Bay City (Chandler's version of the City of Santa Monica):

"Outside the narrow street fumed, the sidewalks swarmed with fat stomachs. Across the street a bingo parlor was going full blast and beside it a couple of sailors with girls were coming out of a photographer's shop where they had probably been having their photos taken riding on camels. The voice of the hot dog merchant split the dusk like an axe. A big blue bus blared down the street to the little circle where the street car used to turn on a turntable. I walked that way."

Curb Your EnthusiasmEdit

In the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode ”Namaste" (season 9, episode 7), Larry David is forced to catch a bus, an activity he is not accustomed to. The eandevor ends with Larry being kicked off the bus. The bus station is the Montana/San-Vincente station in Brentwood which serves lines 14 and 18.[15]

The DoorsEdit

The lyric from The Doors song “The End” “The blue bus is calling us” is sometimes said to refer to the Big Blue Buses but according Ray Manzarek this is apocryphal.[16]


  1. ^ "Routes and Schedules". Big Blue Bus. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  2. ^ "Transit Ridership Report Second Quarter 2022" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. August 29, 2022. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  3. ^ "Transit Ridership Report Fourth Quarter 2021" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. March 10, 2022. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  4. ^ "Our History – Big Blue Bus". Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  5. ^ "Public Transit Ridership, Los Angeles County, California". Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Hobbs, Charles P. (September 6, 2011). "Big Blue Bus Breakthrough | More Than Red Cars – The Obscure, Offbeat and Half-Forgotten Transportation History of Southern California". Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  7. ^ "2011 APTA Awards Program" (PDF). October 4, 2011. pp. 25–26.
  8. ^ "BruinGo! Transit". UCLA Transportation. Archived from the original on March 1, 2012. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 25, 2017. Retrieved August 18, 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Welcome to New Flyer!". Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  11. ^ "Purchase Eleven (11) 40-foot Compressed Natural Gas Buses – City of Santa Monica". Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  12. ^ "Injured victims of Santa Monica shooting". Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  13. ^ ""City of Santa Monica: July 7th, 2013 Shooting Incident After-Action Report"" (PDF). Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  14. ^ Pool, Bob (December 1, 1999). "Bus Line's One-Liners to Stop". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  15. ^ Surrey, Miles (November 13, 2017). "Who Won 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Week 7?". The Ringer. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  16. ^ "SongFacts: "The End" by The Doors".

Further readingEdit

Ayer, Bob. History of Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus. Santa Monica, CA: City of Santa Monica, 1992.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Big Blue Bus at Wikimedia Commons