The Santa Barbara City Council appointed UCSB student Logan Green to the Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) Board yesterday, giving Isla Vista bus riders a voice for the first time in decisions concerning public transportation.
Green, a third-year business economics major, will be first person who is dependent on the public transit system to be elected to the MTD Board. The county’s decision to put a frequent bus-user on the board was prompted by two years of pressure from PUEBLO, a local activist group. Green, who is the chair of the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD) and a former member of Associated Students Legislative Council, was selected to serve a four-year term on the board after vying for the position against two other candidates.
Lucero Marquez, organizer for PUEBLO, said including a regular bus rider on the board is a big step for MTD and locals dependent on public transportation.
“It will bring a much-needed perspective to the negotiation table,” Marquez said. “Bus riders now have a seat on the bus and at the negotiation table.”
The MTD board consists of five directors, two of whom are appointed by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, two by the SB City Council, and one elected by the other four board members.
MTD Board chair John Britton, who was also elected to a third four-year term by the council, is a retired executive. The rest of the board is, for the most part, made up of businessmen and -women.
Green said he was excited to be appointed to the board, as he rides the bus regularly, and said he hopes to bring a new perspective to the group. He said he sold his car last year to experience the area’s public transportation system, and said he understands the flaws of the system and knows what needs to be fixed.
Green also said the biggest problem he sees is the poor coordination between the different forms of public transportation in the area and the difficulties it creates for those who cannot drive to the bus stop or train station.
“I go home often to L.A. for weekends — there’s no bus ride to the Goleta Amtrak station,” Green said. “I end up riding my bike, but there is no secure bike storage, so I throw it on the train, which causes a problem on the other end.”
There are also problems with timing of the bus routes, Green said, and the bus schedule often makes riding the buses impractical for students.
“I think the timing linkage is the most complex problem to be solved,” Green said.
Green said he has two goals for improving the MTD service, including keeping fares stable and affordable, and increasing the number of bus routes. He said he also has ideas for fundraising to financially support his plans.
“Increasing funding sources is going to be a really high priority,” Green said. “It costs money to provide more service and if you want to do it without increasing fares, you need other sources of revenue.”
Ana Reza, co-chair for PUEBLO, said the board was looking for a person who was not only dependent on the MTD, but had experience in fundraising and labor negotiations.
“As fares increase or changes in service occur, it’s good to have the voice of people the MTD serves,” Reza said.
Reza said out of the three candidates considered for the position, she supported the city council’s decision to elect Green because she said he is knowledgeable and qualified to hold the position.
Green has been working with the county and the university to improve transportation planning for the past two years, helping develop the I.V. Master Plan and working to set up a car-sharing program, which would allow people to rent cars by the hour. He said the university is on the verge of launching a program similar to car-sharing that would be available to faculty and staff who do not own cars.
“Car-sharing would help filling in the linkage gaps when a bus or bike might not work,” Green said.