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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Lack of public transport impacts students’ commutes to campus

19-year-old Kiera Oakeson sitting at the bus stop across from City College on Wednesday. April 5. Oakeson is a student at City College who takes the bus nearly every day, she says she has spent an estimate of $50 on Ubers she’s had to call because the bus never showed.

The afternoon sun beat down on Kylie Preston-Mendoza as she checked her phone once again and forced her legs to walk a little faster toward the bus stop to reach her ride back home in time. Having already gone through the same process for her morning trip to City College, according to Preston-Mendoza the repetition of rushing to get the timing right starts to get tiring.

With the two latest classes for City College students ending after 10 p.m. and the last public bus passing by a little before 9 p.m., many students are left without a mode of transportation to get back home.

The Metropolitan Transit District (MTD), Santa Barbara’s local public bus service, has routes that lead to City College campus and everywhere around town. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused problems with the staffing available in recent months, according to Hillary Blackerby, the planning and marketing manager of the MTD.

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She expressed an understanding for the students and the impact that the pandemic had on them. 

“The pandemic affected MTD in several ways. It required the reduction of bus service both due to our workforce availability and due to campus closures. For a time it also reduced the number of people we could carry on our buses due to social distancing requirements,” Blackberby said.

The college has been in contact with the transit center as well. 

During an Associated Student Government meeting that took place on Friday, March 3, ASG advisor Amy Collins spoke of some concerns the students had voiced to her about the bus and the way it runs when late night classes are occurring. 

“Late classes end at either 9:05 p.m. or 10:05 p.m. and the last bus passes by at 8:57 p.m.,” Collins said. “Students would have to leave early from class to reach the bus in time.”

Collins had been reached out to by students and expressed how she is thankful for the complaints as it lets her hear from the students and know who is suffering from this issue. 

Biology major Josselyn Turton, is a student who has been taking the bus to and from school three days a week. 

“Sometimes the buses will be a bit late, but other than that it’s always super convenient,” Turton said. “There was one time where the bus didn’t show up.”

Joshua Ceja-Jaimes, a first year student added to the concerns, saying how if he were to lose the bus he would have to wait for his parents to pick him up, even if it’s late.

Kylie Preston-Mendoza, a second year student, shared her own stressful experience with the City College public transportation.

“During my second semester I had to time the buses properly and there were times where I either cut it really close to the start of class, or I had to show up early to the bus stop,” Preston-Mendoza said.
“It was a little stressful, but what was most annoying was that the bus no longer pulls into the west campus parking lot so I had to walk really far to get to it,” the marketing major continued. 

These three students are just a small percentage of the campus population that relies on the public transportation system. The $36 transportation fee is covered in every student’s tuition and the students who do benefit from it expressed their gratitude.

“I didn’t have any questions about the transportation fee, I was simply glad that I didn’t need to spend cash but use my ID,” Ceja-Jaimes said. “I think it helps the students because there could be an unimaginable amount of students who live far from school that have no other transportation besides the bus.”

According to her, the DMV stopped all behind the wheel commercial licensing tests, which meant that they were unable to successfully hire and train new operators.

The solution to the student’s way of getting to campus is still to be determined, but according to Blackerby and Collins, it is being worked on. 

“We are aggressively attempting to recruit, onboard, and train new bus operators every day,” Blackerby said.

The students are relying on that “aggressive attempt”. As of February 23, 373 City College students used the buses, the manager mentioned.

Blackerby also shared some new updates from the MTD, including a new peak hour weekday service that will serve Carpinteria, Santa Barbara’s eastside, and the City College campus when classes resume for the fall semester. More information to come in future meetings.

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