UCSB and MTD Develop Plan to Better Serve Increasing Campus Community, New Housing Projects
The Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) has collaborated with UCSB officials to expand bus services around the campus, including an increase in the frequency of bus arrivals and hours of operation, all scheduled to begin by Fall 2015.
The popular express lines 12x and 24x will both run later into the evening, and passengers will have a shorter wait-time between arrivals, with some wait periods as brief as 15 minutes. UCSB officials are welcoming the new changes as the university expands its on-campus housing facilities, including two large housing projects — Sierra Madre Village and San Joaquin Village — which are currently underway near the intersection of Storke Road and El Colegio Road. In fact, funding for the expanded bus service will come from a budgeted operating expense within the Sierra Madre and the San Joaquin Villages housing project, according to university officials.
The agreement between UCSB and the MTD will last 10 years, and if the plan is deemed successful and beneficial to the community, the MTD will further expand services.
According to Marc Fisher, senior associate vice chancellor for administrative services at UCSB, the route enhancements were developed by UCSB and MTD officials to support alternative transportation.
“This enhanced service will run later into the evening, providing our community with better access to and from campus to housing, jobs and entertainment in downtown Santa Barbara and in Goleta,” Fisher said, adding that the projects “provide significant improvements” for pedestrian, bicycle and transit connections to the main campus, Girsh Park, the Camino Real Marketplace and Downtown Santa Barbara.
However, Fisher also said new changes are due to the upcoming expansion in campus housing, as he said public transportation services act as “an important and sustainable component” of future campus housing projects.
Sierra Madre Village, which will provide housing to students, faculty and staff, is currently under construction, while San Joaquin Village — which will house upper-division undergraduates — is now in the design phase and will encompass the existing Santa Catalina Towers.
Fisher emphasized that the UCSB and MTD collaboration contrasts practices amongst companies who fund private transportation facilities that only benefit their own employees and community members.
“Our approach provides added transit for our community and the larger community,” Fisher said.
Andrew Han, a first-year film studies major and frequent user of the MTD bus system, said the planned expansions will offer greater convenience to working students, in addition to better safety.
“I use the bus to get to my internships or to just get around campus when I don’t feel like walking enormous distances,” Han said. “Expanding the amount of hours would help those students who stay out for longer periods of time and it’ll prevent them from walking the streets alone at night. I think it would help keep a lot of people safe.”
The bus system also plans to bring a new line, 38, which will run between the campus bus circle and Camino Real Marketplace. The new line is expected to begin operation in Fall 2016.
Photo by Peter Vandenbelt / Daily Nexus.
A version of this story appeared on page 1 of Monday, March 31, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.