The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District announced on March 18 that it will be reducing bus services to and around UC Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College, and announced further closures on March 31. 

Additionally, Line 27 will be reduced to the “UCSB out” alternate schedule, which the line typically follows when the university is on spring break. Nexus file photo

Beginning March 19, bus Lines 11, 24x and 27 will still be providing access to UCSB, and Lines 4, 5, and 17 will still be running to Santa Barbara City College. However, Lines 15x, 16 and 28 will no longer be in service, according to Hillary Blackerby, the Metropolitan Transit District (MTD)’s planning and marketing manager.

Additionally, Line 27 — the Isla Vista Shuttle — will be reduced to the “UCSB out” alternate schedule, which the line typically follows when the university is on spring break. 

On March 31, the MTD announced that Lines 10, 30, 34, 36 and 37 would be closed indefinitely, with the closures to go into effect April 6. 

The March 31 press release also announced stricter load limits to follow social distancing protocols. Forty-foot buses will carry a maximum of eight passengers, with only five passengers allowed on 30-foot buses. In addition, drivers may pass a person waiting at a bus stop if the load limit is already met, the press release stated. 

The district will begin providing free fares for all passengers as well as changing procedures to practice social distancing in light of the COVID-19 crisis. 

The decision to provide free service for all passengers was made to “minimize contact with bus operators” and the fare box, Blackerby said. Passengers are also asked to “maintain appropriate social distance on buses,” defined as six feet by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

New social distancing procedures will include requiring passengers without mobility restrictions to load via the rear door, restricting person-to-person ticket sales and closing the administrative office to visitors, according to Blackerby, who sent out a press release about the changes on March 18.

All administrative offices will be closed and in-person ticket sales halted, although there will be no need to purchase tickets for the foreseeable future. 

Blackerby also said on March 16 in a separate press release that the MTD canceled all booster services to junior highs, high schools and the Alpha Resource Center from March 16 until further notice.

[Updated: 4/5/20 4:23 p.m]

[Correction 4/5/20 9:34 pm]: This article has been corrected to say that the new closures will go into effect April 6. Previously, it said further closures will be announced on April 6.