Increased fares to ride Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus are set to take effect later this month.

Beginning Sunday, Aug. 29, cash fares will rise by 25 cents in most cases. The new cash rate for regular passengers and students using Local service will go from 75 cents to $1, while Express service will increase from $1.75 to $2.

For senior, disabled and Medicare passengers who pay cash when boarding, the cost per trip will rise from 25 cents to 50 cents. Big Blue Bus officials note that this is the first increase to the senior/disabled/Medicare fare in 25 years, and only the second increase to the base fares for students and regular riders in the last quarter of a century.

Dan Dawson, Big Blue Bus customer relations manager, noted that the new fare restructure is one of several strategies the agency is implementing to maintain its current high level of service.

“Providing the best service possible is always one of our key goals,” he said.

Dawson emphasized that due to budget struggles, the transit agency is continuing to identify ways to increase local revenue sources, and to help reduce costs through operating efficiencies.

The new fare structure includes new transfer prices along with the introduction of two new types of value-added passes. In addition, a new online store was launched Aug. 17, giving customers the ability to purchase transit passes online.

The two new value-added passes include the 13 Rides Pass and the 30 Day Pass, which both came about as a result of discussions held earlier this year at community meetings.

The 30 Day Pass is a pre-purchased card that can be activated at any time and is available as a local pass for riders who only ride the Local service, or as an express pass, which includes entry to all Local lines and the Line 10 Express bus connecting downtown Santa Monica with downtown Los Angles.

The new 13 Rides Pass gives passengers 13 rides for the price of 12, and is designed for people who travel less frequently but want to use a pass instead of searching for exact change. Both the 30 Day Pass and 13 Rides Pass require advance purchase before boarding.

The Big Blue Bus will also continue offering its popular Day Pass, which allows for unlimited rides on both Local and Express lines for one price.

“Using passes really helps to streamline the entire fare collection process, which keeps the buses running on time,” said Dawson.

As part of the fare restructure, Little Blue Cards, Student Punch Cards and certain types of Day Passes (Student and Express) are no longer being sold.

Information, www.bigbluebus.com/.

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