The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District announced their plans to modify the current bus schedule during the annual public Transit Talk on Tuesday.
MTD’s proposal includes expanding services for line 15x, separating lines 23 and 25 from Line 11, eliminating line 22 and adding a longer interval for line 1 and 2. If passed, the new schedule will take effect on Aug. 27, 2012.
Dave Damiano, Manager of Transit Development and Community Relations at the MTD said funding reductions forced the district to re-think their schedule.
“Like most government agencies without enough in budget, the MTD had to reallocate resources to meet the demands of the commuters,” Damiano said. “But compared to other agencies, MTD has been pretty good in dealing with the budget cuts.”
According to Damiano, plans were drafted after studying the usage patterns collected by the MTD in order to streamline the area’s public transportation.
“The changes will be relatively small because we are really just shifting things around, and the reduction in service will only be about 1 percent,” Damiano said. “We did a lot of surveying and collecting data from our buses and determined which section was underused and which section needed more resources. The 15x for example has seen a rise in ridership and accordingly we allocated more resources for it.”
Damiano said the MTD is doing their best to meet the community’s needs with the resources they have on hand.
“We know that Santa Barbara MTD is an important part of the community. We have about 200,000 people in our service area but we have the same number of riders as a public transit district with more than a million people,” Damiano said. “In an ideal world, we will be adding more lines and buses so we can serve more people. But with the state and federal funding decreasing, we had to reduce service.”
James Wagner, UCSB’s Transportation Alternatives Program Manager, said there is only one change that will have a significant effect on UCSB’s students.
“The changes are minor from my understanding. But some people were concerned about the changes that may be coming to Line 25,” Wagner said. “Line 25 used to go down Los Carneros and pick up people from the Storke and Santa Ynez family housing. The new plan will move the Los Carneros [stop] to El Colegio road, which could be an added burden to the riders living in the family housing.”
According to Susan D’Arbanville, an academic assistant in the political science department, the removal of a bus stop from Line 25 will adversely affect UCSB graduate students.
“I work with a lot of graduate students on my job, and I’ve become concerned with the changes on Line 25,” D’Arbanville said. “Line 25 passes through the Santa Ynez and Storke family housing on Los Carneros. Because many graduate students living there have kids, the buses are crucial for them. And the MTD is saying they want to move the stop to El Colegio.”
D’Arbanville said the two-block walk to El Colegio is hard for students in family housing, due to the lack of paved sidewalks along that route.
Third-year mechanical engineering major Jokubas Baliutavicius said reduction of service could inconvenience students commuting by bus.
“I think the reduction in service could be negative,” Baliutavicius said. “When I walk around, I see that the bus services here are already not plentiful. I see people getting crammed into buses, people waiting a long time for buses, and people not being able to get into buses because of overcapacity. Less service seems like it means more crowding in the buses.”
Damiano said that this plan is not yet definitive and the board members will take community input into consideration.
“Right now, we are only in the information gathering period,” Damiano said. “There will be a Board of MTD meeting on May 1, and if it passes, the new schedule will take place on Aug. 27. We would like anyone in the community to give us more input on what they want.”
SBMTD can be contacted through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through phone at (805) 963-3364 x555.