With students headed back to school, Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus began to dispatch extra buses on select routes August 31st to ensure service levels are maintained for residents and students alike.

Alleviating congestion and serving riders along Pico Boulevard is a primary focus of the added service, with nine extra bus trips being allocated to both the local Line 7 and the Rapid 7 routes, Big Blue Bus officials said.

The extra buses are dispatched on an as-needed basis by a company communications supervisor monitoring live traffic conditions along the Pico Boulevard corridor, allowing the most responsive service to ridership demands, company officials said.

Mini Blue services will also be adjusted to accommodate expected back-to-school increases in ridership. The Sunset Ride, which serves both Sunset Park residents and nearby campus riders, will resume a “school year” schedule with rides beginning at 7 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., every 15 minutes on Mondays through Thursdays and every 20 minutes on Fridays.

Big Blue Bus is able to provide these back-to-school services by reallocating resources from the least-ridden service in the system, the Tide Ride. After six months of community meetings about the Tide Ride, the company gained consensus from local hoteliers, merchants and neighbors to reduce the current service to operate on weekends only beginning Saturday, September 12th.

The last day for weekday service will be Friday, September 4th. The Tide Ride will operate according to its current Saturday and Sunday schedule thereafter, and follow a Sunday schedule on Labor Day, Monday, September 7th.

The bus agency attributes recent increases in student ridership to increased outreach and services to UCLA, Santa Monica High School, and Santa Monica College (SMC), such as the “Any Line, Any Time” program, which allows SMC students and staff to ride for free by showing a valid college identification with current semester sticker when boarding.