Culver City’s very busy Line 6 bus will be getting Rapid Bus service beginning in January 2010, thanks to City Council approval of service changes at Monday’s meeting.
Transportation Director Art Ida gave a staff report, and with Transit Operations Manager Samantha Blackshire, answered questions concerning the changes. Currently, Line 6 serves a north-south corridor of Culver City from the Metro Green Line station up past LAX Transit Center, Howard Hughes Center, the Westfield (formerly Fox Hills) Mall, and up Sepulveda Boulevard to Westwood and UCLA.
Ridership on Line 6 has increased steadily over the last few years, and passengers have frequently asked for improvements in service.
The Rapid Line, Ida explained, will have limited stops, although all the stops will be among those currently served by line 6. Buses will be equipped with transponders which will communicate with the signals at intersections, causing traffic lights to automatically turn green. There will be no dedicated lane for the Rapid 6.
Blackshire showed the Council and audience a picture of the bus model. The design is slightly different from Culver City’s regular buses and the color is a light gray rather than the familiar green.
Public speaker Linda Shahanian had a few questions on the proposal. She asked why, in regard to the list of Rapid stops, there was no stop for Westwood and Santa Monica Boulevard. She also wasn’t sure she liked the idea of a bus painted primarily gray.
“It’s nice to see that Guacamole-mobile,” she remarked, the audience chuckling at her allusion to the Culver City Bus’s avocado-green color. “Can’t the top part be green so you can spot it from a distance and know it’s a Culver City bus?”
Ida responded to her first question. “Transit rules specify that buses don’t run ‘on top of each other.’ That stop is serviced by the [Santa Monica] Big Blue Bus, so we were told that we couldn’t use it.”
As for easy identification of the buses by color, Ida said that it was important to have a different look to identify buses as Rapid Service, but these buses would have reflective tape on the front with the sign “Rapid.”
Ida also assured Shahanian that the bus fare would be the same for the Rapid as for the regular bus. In answer to a question by Council member Micheal O’Leary about using a transfer to switch from a regular to a Rapid bus, Blackshire said that a local transfer cannot be used for a Rapid Bus.
Quibbles aside, the entire Council approved of the idea of the Rapid Bus and with equal rapidity, approved the service change, which will commence at 2 a.m. on January 4, 2010.
On a related note, earlier in the meeting, Fleet Equipment & Maintenance Manager Paul Condran announced that at the recently held Government Fleet Conference, Culver City’s “Green Fleet” was named the 5th Best Fleet in America.
The Council also listened to public comment on a resolution to name two seats in the Council chamber after Adele and Henry Siegel.
The Siegels, who passed away in 2007 and 2008, within a few months of each other, were well-known to many regular attendees of Culver City political meetings, as activists on both an international and local level. Among those who spoke enthusiastically in support of honoring the Siegels with named seats were Elinor Osgood, who characterized the Siegels as a “team” who “made Culver City the center of their activism,” and Karlo Silbiger, who recalled that the Siegels dressed up in costumes at Halloween and made the rounds of the neighborhood to remind people to vote in November.
Of the Council members, Gary Silbiger knew the Siegels and said that they had been active “literally until the day they died.” However, O’Leary and Mayor Andrew Weisman admitted that they had not known the Siegels and wanted to know more about them. Weisman was concerned that approval of the resolution must follow established procedure, by which he meant written and documented evidence of a person or persons’ achievements.
The Council agreed to hold off on voting until a future meeting, at which time they could look over information about the Siegels. Silbiger agreed to look into the gathering of that information.
In other actions, the Council, in a joint meeting of the City Council and Redevelopment Agency, continued hearing presentations related to a budget review for Fiscal Year 2009-2010. Departments that gave presentations were the Police Department, Recreation and Parks Department, Public Works Department, and Transportation Department.
Police chief Don Pedersen listed some of the sub-departments where money could be saved. He suggested that some functions of the Police Department could be handled by other agencies, possibly the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “We can’t downgrade the Forensics Department,” he noted. Forensics is the “big thing” now. But since Culver City has an outstanding forensics department, Pedersen suggested that it might bring in revenue by providing service to other municipalities.
Council honored Disability Awareness Month by presenting proclamations to Dancing with Disabilities as a leading organization in Culver City and former Mayor Steven Rose as disability advocate of the year for his years of service with the Exceptional Children’s Foundation.
Dancing with Disabilities organizes and has run a monthly dance for individuals with disabilities for the last 20 years. Rose has spent over 30 years involved in advocating for individuals with disabilities through his continuing volunteering and support of the Exceptional Children’s Foundation.