Santa Barbara Bus system to improve service from IV to SBCC

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Ryan Cullom

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AUSTIN P. AMBROSE, Channels Staff

The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District is proposing a number of changes that could improve service for City College students living in Isla Vista, eliminate the sticker system, and return a bus stop that runs directly to West Campus.

If the scheduling changes are approved by the transit district’s board of directors, they could take effect next August.

Starting Monday, all buses in Santa Barbara will leave for their routes with brand-new fareboxes. The boxes’ increased speed is just the tip of the iceberg though. The fareboxes are equipped with several unique features that the transit district will enable as time goes on.

“The first phase of that is with Santa Barbara City College and UCSB,” said Hillary Blackerby, marketing and community relations manager for the Metropolitan Transit District. “Eventually, with the student ID’s, you won’t have to get a sticker and you’ll just be able to tap it onto the top [of the farebox].”

In place of the stickers, students will need to pick up new ID cards that come with digital chips. City College is hoping to switch over to the new system by spring of next year according to Dr. Christopher Johnson, associate dean of educational programs. The transportation fee will also increase by $1 next fall for students taking more than 6 units.

The transit district is also proposing minor scheduling improvements for six of its lines: the 6,11, 20, 21x, 23, and 25. Those changes are expected to help riders by adjusting the posted arrival times at each stop to be more accurate.

While those adjustments won’t change the number of busses that run on each line, the revisions to lines 15x, 12x and 24x will. Line 15x, which runs from Isla Vista to City College, may see an increase in service.

“The frequency will actually be increased up to six minutes depending on the time of day,” said George Amoon, manager of planning for the Metropolitan Transit District.

That means four more busses would take the route every day during the week.

Lines 12x and 24x on the other hand, which run between Isla Vista and downtown Santa Barbara, might see a slight decrease in service. The transit district may remove a total of eight trips between the two lines during the week. The trips being removed only have a few riders and don’t make a lot of sense for scheduling either, according to Amoon.

One bus stop just south-west of the Business Communication Center was removed a little over a year ago when construction began for the new West Campus Building. If the building is up and running by next spring as expected, the stop will return to line 16.

In addition to scheduling changes and a new student ID system, the transit district will also be releasing a smartphone app to help riders track their buses. The app will be available online for desktop users too.

“The really exciting thing that’s coming later this year is the real-time arrival app,” Blackerby said. “You’ll be able to know whether you need to sprint across campus to catch the bus or if you can walk at a leisurely pace.”

The transit district’s board of directors will be meeting on May 2 to discuss the proposed scheduling changes.