The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District is considering reducing service lines 15x, 20, and 21x. If approved, the changes would go into effect by Aug. 20.
The biggest impact such changes would have on students comes from the proposed cuts being made to the 15x service. The 15x bus is an express line that connects the Isla Vista area with both UC Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College. The 20 and 21x bus lines primarily serve the Carpinteria area.
Unlike UCSB’s campus, the majority of which is technically located in the Goleta area, the SBCC campus is actually located far outside of Goleta and closer to downtown Santa Barbara. According to KEYT, there were 3,000 SBCC students living in Isla Vista as of 2015.
The SBMTD proposes to cut the 15x service on Friday afternoons from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. during SBCC’s fall and spring quarters, according to Noozhawk, as “a very small number of SBCC students are in class during that time.”
Earlier this week, Noozhawk reported that SBMTD has a budget deficit of almost $1 million. Hilary Blackerby, a spokesperson for SBMTD, clarified later to The Bottom Line that the deficit, which could change depending on additional funding.
Blackerby said that the budget is very “minimally” related to the changes in service. But increased cuts to bus service means that bus stickers are worth less than students pay for.
Students enrolled at UC Santa Barbara are permitted every quarter to get a new sticker on their access cards that gives them unlimited rides on the buses provided by SBMTD. All students, whether they take advantage of it or not, pay for these stickers through their student fees, which includes a transit systems fee of $13.13 a quarter.
Santa Barbara City College has a similar system. All students are required to pay student service fees. In the case of SBCC, students who take more than six units pay $32 each quarter in transportation fees, excluding the summer quarters where students only pay $14.
MTD has seen a decline in the amount of trips taken annually, from around 7.5 million trips in 2015 and 6.9 million trips in 2016 to 6.4 million trips in 2017, which indicate a good reason to cut service amid a budget crisis.
But for quite a few UC Santa Barbara students, trips to SBCC are necessary as there are some classes UCSB does not offer that are necessary for students in certain fields, which they must take on the city college campus.
Suzanna Tse is a fourth year psychology major at UCSB who has taken two classes at SBCC. Last fall she took human anatomy, and this spring she is taking a physiology class. On average, Tse said she is taking the 15x line “four times a week.”
Many UCSB students are in the same boat. Her human anatomy class, Tse said, enrolled around 75-80 kids, while her current physiology class has “roughly 125 kids from all the sections.”
Sahana Arkaguld, a fourth year biology major at UCSB, said she also relied on the 15x line to get to SBCC for a human anatomy class held on Tuesdays. Arkaguld said she attended open lab on Fridays.
“Open lab is kind of like drop in hours. We get to study the muscles, bones, arteries on the cadavers that they have.” Arkaguld told the Bottom Line. “There are usually a few tutors that help you review material. It’s helpful for students because our quizzes involve recognizing structures on cadavers.”
The decision to cut the 15x, 20, and 21x lines is still pending. There will be several public meetings this month to discuss the proposition. One will be held at SBCC in Room A162 on Apr. 17 at noon.
The location and dates for following meetings and an online survey for those who wish to voice their opinions but cannot make the meetings can be found on the MTD website.
This article has been updated with comment from SBMTD.