With hopes of improving roads and public transportation, 15 agencies have entered bids for a piece of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments’ (SBCAG) $80 million funding for this fiscal year.

Fifteen million dollars have been set aside for road repairs throughout Santa Barbara County, possibly including Isla Vista. Currently there are 74 proposals from 15 different agencies – totaling $69 million – for the remaining $65 million. UCSB, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, Easy Lift Transportation, the California Dept. of Transportation, the Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) and seven city councils are among the agencies that have submitted requests.

“On the surface it looks like everyone should get their money, but 10 to 12 of the proposals are for environmental documents alone, which are just the beginning of the approvals process,” SBCAG Decisions Director Jim Kemp said. “The total money for the proposals is actually more like $400 million.”

The Santa Barbara MTD has proposed a $10 million facelift project and requested $3.6 million from the SBCAG. The additional $6.4 million will come from state funds, according to Kemp. The project would replace 20 diesel buses, which are over 17 years old, and add five new buses to lines of high transit between Carpinteria, Goleta and Santa Barbara.

Martin Erickson, manager of government affairs at MTD, said the new buses are electric/diesel hybrids.

“If our current proposal is accepted, it will allow us to improve the environment without having to wait for a government mandate,” he said. “Our ridership is growing due to the increased cost of living in Santa Barbara County. Not everyone has enough money to buy a car.”

UCSB students should see an increase in service by around 2003 if the proposal goes through, Erickson said.

“The decision should come sometime in December,” he said. “Our public transportation is available to everyone – young, old, the disabled. The prospective road repairs would only benefit those with cars who could drive, and if there’s one point I’d really like to get across, it’s that there is a lot of money available, enough to give to the MTD.”

On October 18 there will be a public hearing to allow members of the community to voice their opinions about how the money should be allocated. The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. at the county administration building in downtown Santa Barbara.