As summer draws to a close, so does 'Beach Bus'

As August draws to a close, so does another season of the Summer Beach Bus service that transports foothill residents to Santa Monica Beach, and then back home, for just $3.

The drive, traffic congestion and the high price of gasoline can keep a day at Santa Monica from being, well, a day at the beach. But with a round-trip ticket on the Summer Beach Bus costing $3 — just $1.50 for riders age 60 and up and the disabled — residents have been taking advantage of the service since 1994.

The Beach Bus is operated by Transit Services and runs Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The bus kicked off its summer beach season June 21 and will continue to ferry beach-goers to Santa Monica on its regular days through Sept. 3 and will make one specially-scheduled trip on Labor Day.

Considering that parking at Santa Monica beach is $12 on the weekend and the average gallon of gasoline costs more than $3.50, the Beach Bus ticket is a money-saver for those who don't mind being confined mostly to one beach area.

Most of the shuttle's cost is subsidized through Proposition A funds, from which La Cañada earmarks $15,000 toward the service, said Carl Alameda, a senior management analyst for the city.

Although gasoline prices have fluctuated wildly over the last five years, the cost of a round-trip ticket has stayed at $3 because of the county funding.

Although Alameda said he wouldn't know ridership numbers for this summer until the end of the year, he said that 2008 marked the first summer when it was necessary to schedule two buses for pick-ups because of the service's popularity.

The affordability and convenience is one of the reasons Kee Chong and her friends, Grace Anan and Vivian Lee, boarded the bus at 9:15 a.m. on a recent Saturday for their get-together.

“The Beach Bus is a convenient service; you don't have to drive to the beach, worry about parking or gas,” said Chong.

The bus was almost at capacity with 38 passengers, most of them older adults and a few groups of teenagers. Some teens were already dressed in swim trunks; others packed books and umbrellas for the sunny day.

La Crescenta resident Lauren Gossett, 22, accompanied family friend Rachel Ward, 13, on the ride to Santa Monica.

“The last time I was on the Beach Bus was 10 years ago,” Gossett said, “but Rachel wanted to go and visit the rides on the pier because Rachel hasn't been on the pier for some time. We've got books and we're going to sit on the beach and relax.”

A little more than an hour later, and the bus stopped at the Santa Monica pier, where beach-goers spent the next few hours enjoying Santa Monica Beach, the pier, downtown Santa Monica, and the local farmers market.

More details about the Summer Beach Bus can be found online at www.lacanadaflintridge.com.

FYI

Beach Bus Pick-up Times

Foothill Boulevard at La Cañada Boulevard: 9:15 a.m.

Two Strike Park in La Crescenta: 9:30 a.m.

La Crescenta Library: 9:40 a.m.

Montrose Avenue at Ocean View Boulevard: 9:50 a.m.

Arrive at Santa Monica Beach: 10:50 a.m.

Return Schedule:

Santa Monica Beach: 3:30 p.m.

Foothill Boulevard at La Cañada Boulevard: 4:30 p.m.

Two Strike Park: 4:40 p.m.

La Crescenta Library: 4:50 p.m.

Montrose Avenue at Ocean View Boulevard: 4:55 p.m.
 
 

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