The Big Blue Bus of Santa Monica is moving forward with the next phase of its bus stop redevelopment project that will eventually replace or enhance all 360 bus stops around the city.

The proposed new stops will include a contemporary and creative design that utilizes sustainable materials, passenger friendly maps and timetables, Big Blue Bus officials said. All stops will also be equipped with GPS-based technology to provide real-time schedule information to waiting passengers.

The Los Angeles design firm Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects was selected from among several top architectural firms to design the project, with its conceptual design entitled “The Blue Spots.”

“One of the most essential elements of this project is enhancing the information we provide to our customers,” says Stephanie Negriff, Big Blue Bus director of transit services. “We want to give riders real-time schedule information wherever we can to help their commutes, and we also want to provide simple, stop-specific maps and timetables so that taking transit is easy.”

Negriff noted that while improving technology was a key element, it was also important for the agency to make the waiting environment as welcoming as possible. Extensive sun and shade studies were done at locations throughout the city, resulting in a conceptual design that is intended to provide passengers with the maximum shade possible during the hottest parts of the day.

“We hope our regular passengers will find these improved and beautiful new shelters useful and comfortable, and we’re also hoping they’ll attract some new riders, as well,” the transit director said.

The stops/shelters are required to adhere to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations and be cost effective to maintain. Transit officials said it was also imperative to include sustainability into the design to reduce energy costs.

Among the features of the new stops are a simplified Big Blue Bus system map; a localized map showing areas within walking or biking distance; a listing of all bus lines that use that stop; estimated travel times to key points along the route; and a shelter canopy.

The $6.9 million project is funded with $3 million from the Federal Transit Administration and nearly $2.5 million from federal stimulus funds. The Big Blue Bus will provide the remaining funding.

The City Council approved the transit project at its January 19th meeting.

In addition to the above features, locations with medium and high volume rider patterns will also receive signs that broadcast real time bus arrival information, trash and recycling containers and lighting that illuminates the structure and waiting area.

Nearly 100 stops will be part of the new initiative, including stops on Pico Boulevard at Santa Monica College and on Lincoln Boulevard.

The agency’s goal is to have the first new stops in place by December.