The City of Santa Monica Big Blue Bus began offering a rapid bus service called Rapid Blue on Lincoln Boulevard between Santa Monica and the Aviation Metro Green Line light rail station last week.

Santa Monica Big Blue officials say the Lincoln Boulevard bus route is one of the “most heavily traveled and popular routes.”

The Rapid Blue service includes newly designed upscale buses and bus stations.

Buses travel along a densely populated ten-mile stretch of Lincoln Boulevard from Santa Monica to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and the Metro Green Line Aviation Station.

The first Rapid Blue route — called Rapid 3 — is from the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Fourth Street in Santa Monica to the Metro Green Line Aviation Station near LAX.

Rapid 3 makes only 26 stops on a round trip, saving passengers approximately ten minutes of travel time each way.

Rapid 3 serves Santa Monica, Venice, Playa Vista, Marina del Rey, Westchester and the LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) Transit Center and operates Monday through Friday during the morning and afternoon peak hours, 6 to 10 a.m. and 2 to 7 p.m.

Buses run approximately every 15 minutes.

The regular Big Blue Bus Line 3 carried more than 800 passengers a day to and from the Metro Green Line Aviation Station.

The Rapid 3 schedule has been designed for maximum integration with the Metro Green Line station light rail schedule.

The Rapid 3 line connects with the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Rapid Line 720 Wilshire Boulevard line that goes to downtown Los Angeles and continues to Whittier, and it serves the LAX Transit Center, the Westchester Recreation Center, and the Third Street Promenade.

The Rapid Blue buses sport a new color scheme of dark metallic blue with yellow/gold lettering to differentiate the Rapid 3 buses from the regular Big Blue Buses, and to afford maximize visibility.

Big Blue Bus officials say the new buses offer state-of-the-art design elements such as luggage racks, reading lights, low floors for faster boarding, and traffic signal priority technology to keep signals green longer.

The new buses also use cleaner-burning and less-polluting liquid natural gas fuel, bus officials said.

Newly designed bus stations utilizing the Rapid Blue color scheme will soon be placed along the Rapid 3 route, and future bus-only lanes are also being planned to further improve travel time.

Stephanie Negriff, director of transit services for the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus system, says the timing couldn’t be better for the new Rapid line.

“Now that summer is here and there are so many great places to visit along the coast, including the beach, I think people will really enjoy using this new service,” says Negriff.

In addition to offering comfort and a new upscale design, Negriff thinks residents and visitors will find the faster service to and from the airport very convenient and economical.

The fare to LAX remains at its current 75 cents each way, the same as the regular buses.

Funding for the new Rapid Blue service was provided through a partnership between the Big Blue Bus and the MTA, under which MTA provided $736,000 for the installation of the transit signal priority system along Lincoln Boulevard and $1.3 million for the construction of bus stations along the Rapid 3 route.

Information, Dan Dawson, the Big Blue Bus, (310) 458-1975 ext. 5831 and