June 14, 2012
Even the word “jazz,” jay-ay-zee-zee, has movement. Now the sumptuous sounds, grit and swagger of the Monterey Jazz Festival's 55-year archive gains new momentum along Monterey’s first bus rapid transit line, which breaks ground Friday.
Monterey-Salinas Transit seeks to put its own spin on faster public transit, tapping Monterey’s jazz heritage without resorting to clichéd themes like L.A.’s “Big Blue Bus” and San Diego’s “District Breeze.”
The aptly named “Jazz” BRT line features a linear jazz museum spanning over 25 bus shelters. Each stop reflects one or two years of the festival, with museum-like displays and QR codes riders can snap with their phones to hear, or buy, music from years prior.
The new BRT line runs 6.75 miles from Sand City Station to Fremont Boulevard and Lighthouse Avenue, swinging past the Monterey Bay Aquarium in its return loop.
When complete this fall, it will have custom-designed shelters, transit signal priority, queue jump lanes and spacing to streamline bus traffic and reduce travel time along the busy corridor from Seaside and North Monterey to Cannery Row by as much as 25 percent.
To brand the BRT, something between light rail and a local bus, MST wanted more elaborate than a typical shelter to make public transit more appealing.
“We were thinking something like an ocean theme, but I went to the jazz festival and was just bowled over by the vibrance and color of the sets,” says Hunter Harvath, MST’s assistant general manager of finance and administration. “Jazz is jazz in a hundred different languages.”
One of the world’s longest-running jazz festivals, MJF is unarchiving materials dating from its 1958 beginnings to the present for the bus line’s stylized shelters.
The effort plays into MJF’s larger educational goals. The festival’s scholarship program invests over $600,000 every year for jazz education. The “Jazz” BRT service will reach past the festival’s roughly 40,000 annual attendees to educate more year round.
The Jazz Line groundbreaking ceremony takes place Friday, June 22, at the Sand City Station on Playa and California Avenues in Sand City.