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A crowd of over 100 people showed up to wish the Big Blue Bus a happy 80th Birthday at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. Anytime someone throws a party and Green L.A. Girl and Jerry Peace Activist Rubin all show up, you know it's going to be a good time.

The strong attendance at the party showed again how smaller transit agencies are able to ingrain themselves in the community. There were certainly many members of the audience that were city staff, staff at other regional transit agencies and the press; but many of those present were either passengers who planned on attending the event or pedestrians attracted by a band and some cake. Regardless, the enthusiastic cheering for politicians, staff and bus drivers showed a deep affection between the community and their transit system.

I'm sure the Big Blue Bus has many of the problems that plague transit agencies across the country, but it's also hard to picture the smiling bus drivers on stage that were loudly cheered by residents in the audience running down Enci Box or blowing past me at a bus stop because I didn't "look like on of their customers."

Before the speech making, the "Blue Notes" played some familiar tunes with the words re-written to be about the Big Blue Bus. My personal favorite was re-writing the car culture anthem "No Particular Place to Go," to play "Cruising and playing the radio; the Big Blue Bus is the way to go."

All of the speakers spoke about the positive role of transit in the lifestyle of Santa Monica residents, but the best speech showed another way a transit service can become part of the community. Santa Monica Councilmember Kevin McKeown decided to focus his time at the podium on romance and transit.

"How many high school students got their first kiss on the Big Blue Bus? How many couples cuddled on the Big Blue Bus," McKeown asked. McKeown then told a story about how the most romantic night of the month is when he brings home a monthly Big Blue Bus pass for his girlfriend.

Can anyone really Imagine any official in the City of Los Angeles telling the same story?

Photo: Damien Newton

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