The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) is proposing new technology that will replace the student bus sticker system within the next year and enact changes to bus schedules starting Aug. 21.
The schedule adjustments follow a decrease in ridership, funding and traffic congestion that have caused scheduling conflicts, George Amoon, MTD manager of planning, said at a public hearing held on Tuesday at the Goleta Valley Community Center
More public hearings will be held from April 4 to 13 to discuss the proposed changes throughout Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Goleta and Isla Vista.
Within the next year, there will be technology changes to make MTD more modern, Hillary Blackerby, MTD’s marketing and community relations manager, announced.
MTD is testing student Access cards to see if they will be compatible with the new fare boxes that will be installed later this year.
Blackerby said the new boxes will have an electronic database of student and civilian rider information to determine eligibility when a card is swiped. The boxes will replace the bus sticker system for UC Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College students.
Blackerby said a new smartphone app will launch later this year to give real-time GPS tracking of buses en route. This service will also be available via text for non-smartphone users.
Lines 24x, which runs from UCSB to downtown Santa Barbara, and 12x, which runs from Hollister to downtown Santa Barbara, will decrease in frequency, running every 35 minutes instead of the current 30 minutes. Some routes or bus times will be removed entirely, although MTD has yet to determine which ones.
Stops along Lines 6, 11, 20, 21x 23, and 25 will also be adjusted in their times, but frequency of stops will remain the same. A minor reroute will be made for Line 23 after 7 p.m. to accommodate the El Encanto Heights neighborhood.
The UCSB and SBCC student line, 15x, will see a frequency increase of up to six minutes. An additional six trips in both directions will be added during “key parts of the day,” said transit planner Mark Clyde.
Lines 1 and 2 will revert morning weekday commute hour services from 10 minute to 15 minute frequencies due to the loss of a grant source.
Additionally, a potential new route will run two trips during the morning and evening commute hours between Goleta and Carpinteria, which will be funded by Caltrans.
Correction: Although ridership has decreased and one grant was lost for Lines 1 and 2, MTD officials said the bus schedule changes are only due to traffic congestion and not in response to decreasing ridership and funding loss, as the Nexus first reported.
Correction: The Nexus reported that stops along Lines 6, 11, 20, 21x 23 and 25 will also be reduced in frequency. However, they are to only be adjusted.