MTD continues operations, facility updates following fatal bus crash

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MTD continues operations, facility updates following fatal bus crash

An MTD electric shuttle crosses W Ortega and State Street on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Downtown Santa Barbara, Calif.

An MTD electric shuttle crosses W Ortega and State Street on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Downtown Santa Barbara, Calif.

Nate Stephenson

An MTD electric shuttle crosses W Ortega and State Street on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Downtown Santa Barbara, Calif.

Nate Stephenson

Nate Stephenson

An MTD electric shuttle crosses W Ortega and State Street on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Downtown Santa Barbara, Calif.

Madeleine Sydkvist, Staff Writer

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Many students at City College depend on the Metropolitan Transit District buses when commuting to and from school, but the past months have put the bus provider under pressure after a fatal accident in October.

The company held a public meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at the MTD office in downtown Santa Barbara to discuss future renovations, plans and goals. 

In addition to the changes to the bus routes and schedules, MTD has been under the spotlight lately after a fatal bus crash on October 9, killing 67-year-old Eve Debra Johnson at the Transit Center in downtown Santa Barbara. 

“Obviously it’s a very tragic and horrible situation. It’s still under investigation by the Santa Barbara Police Department,” said MTD Interim Planning and Marketing Manager Hillary Blackerby. “We’re here for our employees and community, everyone was affected to different degrees.

“We have to keep on providing service every day, so we are continuing our normal daily operations.” 

MTD has not made any changes to its safety protocols after the accident and will continue with its safety standards until the investigation is completed by the police department. 

“We have very rigorous safety protocols every day, before, during and after the accident,” Blackerby said. 

Board members and representatives from Stantec, the architect company responsible for the facility planning, also discussed construction at the transit center at the meeting. 

The board emphasized that even considering the difficulty of the operation and the project’s large budget, it will be worth the while.

“We are working on long-term solutions,” said MTD General Manager Jerry Estrada, emphasizing that changes to the terminals need to be done at some point.

Another reason behind the decision to invest in the facility upgrades of the two terminals is the expected increase in student enrollment at both City College and UCSB in the upcoming years. 

“Two of our really big stakeholders are City College and UCSB,” said Blackerby. 

The company makes annual changes to its bus routes and schedules, a process that involves receiving feedback from the public through online surveys, social media or direct calls in order to get an overview of what is needed or lacking in the system.

“We go out to the public in April with public meetings and surveys, saying that this is what we’re looking at changing,” Blackerby said. “We’re also in touch with the student government and the administration at City College.” 

Blackerby said that the changes implemented on Aug. 19 have received positive feedback from the public so far.

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