University of California, Santa Barbara students and Santa Barbara residents attended the Public Transit Forum on Thursday, April 3, in Isla Vista Theater 2 in order to weigh in on possible service changes proposed by the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) as well as to suggest improvements to the transit system overall. Sherrie Fisher and George Amoon of the MTD management team led the meeting.
Potential service changes, which are expected to take effect Aug. 25, 2014, include adding one additional bus for lines 1, 2, 16, and 37 in order to decrease the number of missed and late trips. They also planned to add five minutes to the last five trips made by the Line 36.
The MTD Board also stated that they might eliminate Line 22, which travels through the Old Mission and Botanic Garden, in December 2014 as a result of low ridership. In addition, they spoke of potentially rerouting Line 15x out of Isla Vista to only along El Colegio due to scheduling issues caused by a significant increase in people getting on and off; this would mean that people would have to walk an additional five minutes from Abrego Road to El Colegio.
The MTD managers acknowledged that these potential changes would not greatly affect UCSB students specifically and proceeded to announce the changes that would.
“In August of 2015, there will be additional service added to the line 24 and the line 12x,” Fisher, general manager of the Santa Barbara MTD, said. She also said that service would be extended until 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
In addition, in August 2016 the MTD will implement a new line, Line 38, which, according to Fisher, “will go from the Camino Real Marketplace to the corner of Storke and Hollister, which will also have Santa Catalina and San Joaquin, and then over to North Hall and back.” This line will run Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. This new line will be created to cater to the potential 1,000 new students that will reside in new housing project San Joaquin, which is still under review and expected to be built in two to three years.
The Santa Barbara MTD also announced the forthcoming bigger buses, referred to as articulated buses, in August 2014, just in time for the start of the Santa Barbara City College school year. The articulated buses will be 60 rather than 40 feet long. The hope is that this change will prevent students and transit riders from being uncomfortably crammed into buses.
Fisher also addressed the MTD transit-service reduction scare that threatened transit commuters in the summer of 2013, in which Santa Barbara residents faced the threat of a 30 percent reduction in transit services. Fisher said that Santa Barbara MTD was fortunately able to gain enough federal funding, in part due to the activism of UCSB and SBCC students as well as Santa Barbara residents, eradicating the possibility of reduced services.