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'Beach Bus' set to close for the season

The popular service set to close out another year after once more holding its prices down.

August 23, 2011|By Carolyn Neuhausen, Special to the Valley Sun
  • From left, Lauren Johnson, 14, Elizabeth Hales, 10, and Clara Johnson, 17, arrive ready to board the Summer Beach Bus at Memorial Park in La Canada Flintridge on Saturday, August 13, 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
From left, Lauren Johnson, 14, Elizabeth Hales, 10, and…

As August draws to a close, so does another season of the Summer Beach Bus service that is offered in the Foothills each year by the city of La Cañada Flintridge and Los Angeles County.

The drive, traffic congestion and high price of gasoline can keep a day at Santa Monica Beach 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 seniors age 60 and up, and disabled patrons), area 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-lovers to Santa Monica on its regular days through Sept. 3 and will make one specially-scheduled trip on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5.

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 an exceptional value. The only drawback to using the bus is the loss of flexibility; riders can’t choose to venture out to some of the less crowded beaches such as Malibu, or leave Santa Monica before the scheduled return to the Foothills.

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According to Carl Alameda, senior management analyst for the city, most of the shuttle’s cost is subsidized through Proposition A funds, from which La Cañada earmarks $15,000 toward the service. 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 Prop A funding. Although Alameda will not 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 Chong and her friends took was almost at capacity with 38 passengers, most of them older adults and a few groups of teenagers, who talked quietly and joked with one another. Some teens were already dressed in swim trunks; others packed books and umbrellas for the sunny day.

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