The Santa Monica Big Blue Bus opened its new eco-friendly transit store and customer service center to the public Monday, November 12th.

Customer service hours for the new transit store are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.

The concept store, called “Blue: The Transit Store,” is in the center of downtown Santa Monica, at 223 Broadway, adjacent to the Third Street Promenade.

The store serves as the new home for the Big Blue Bus customer service team and will offer trip planning, maps, schedules, day-passes, Little Blue Cards, EZ Transit passes, student punch cards and Metro EZ Passes.

The transit store will also carry a selection of earth-friendly apparel and transit-oriented items, including organic cotton T-shirts, paper products made of seeds that grow gardens, beach towels and jewelry items made from antique bus tokens and Santa Monica-branded merchandise. The highlight of the store’s merchandise is special limited edition antique token jewelry handcrafted by local Santa Monica artisans, according to Big Blue Bus.

A high profile location for the new transit store was important to Big Blue Bus officials, who say they wanted to make transit more accessible and appealing to both veteran and potential new riders. The store is in the center of the “transit mall” in downtown Santa Monica and within two blocks of nearly every Big Blue Bus line.

“The Third Street Promenade is a busy place, and we hope that people will be curious about the store and come in to see what we have to offer,” said Big Blue Bus customer relations manager Dan Dawson.

“One of our main goals is to draw as much attention as possible to the benefits of using public transit, so we’re hoping that the customer-friendly location, all the different fare choices and the eco-friendly products will inspire people to give transit a try.”

The new 900-square-foot store was designed by Santa Monica architect Warren Wagner of W3 Architects. Wagner, who specializes in creating environmentally-friendly designs, incorporated many cutting-edge sustainable materials, energy-efficient fixtures and other eco-features into the new facility, according to Big Blue Bus.

The features include floors made of recycled rubber tires, counters made of recycled paper, walls made of renewable strawboard, window designs that allow the store to be lit by natural daylight, and solar panels to provide additional power.

A grand opening event with city officials, local environmental groups and other VIP guests is planned for 11 a.m. Wednesday, December 5th, on the Third Street Promenade at Broadway.

Information, Dan Dawson, (310) 458-1975 ext. 5831 or dan.dawson@smgov.com, or Francine Pares, (949) 481-7559 or fpares@intelibrand.com.

Additional information about the Big Blue Bus is available at www.bigbluebus.com/.

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