Santa Barbara buses reduce their services due to decrease in drivers

Line+17+waits+to+board+passengers+at+Zone+C+on+the+corner+of+Figueroa+St+and+Chapala+St+at+the+Santa+Barbara+MTD+Transit+Center+on+Monday%2C+April+25+in+Santa+Barbara%2C+Calif.+Certain+lines+will+be+experiencing+reductions+in+services+effective+April+25%2C+including+the+direct+line+to+City+College%2C+Line+16%2C+is+temporarily+suspended.

Rodrigo Hernandez

Line 17 waits to board passengers at “Zone C” on the corner of Figueroa St and Chapala St at the Santa Barbara MTD Transit Center on Monday, April 25 in Santa Barbara, Calif. Certain lines will be experiencing reductions in services effective April 25, including the direct line to City College, Line 16, is temporarily suspended.

Rodrigo Hernandez, Editor-in-Chief

City College students and Santa Barbara residents who commute by bus will be experiencing a temporary reduction in services effective Monday, April 25.

For City College students, the direct line to the college, Line 16, will be temporarily suspended and Line 15x, the UCSB/SBCC Express will be operating on a limited service schedule ending earlier in the evening. Students can still ride the lines 4, 5 and 17 to the college, with the 4 and 17 being the quickest ways to get to the campus from downtown Santa Barbara. 

“Unfortunately due to the decreasing number of drivers, we’re temporarily reducing service to improve reliability,” said Hillary Blackerby, planning and marketing manager at MTD Santa Barbara. “When people look at the schedule, we want them to know they can rely on us.” 

According to the transit agency, the number of transit employees and workforce in several industries has decreased nationwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this has affected Santa Barbara’s bus drivers as well. 

The planning and marketing manager said it would be a 13% decrease overall, with efforts to recruit heavily over the summer taking place so services may return to their regular schedules later in the year. 

“Even with the regular hours with the bus sometimes they are delayed or they just don’t show up and I’m late to class,” said City College student Esther Ramos who uses the transit system to get to the school. “It says that it will come but it doesn’t come and I’m often standing there for a while past the scheduled time. 

While there may be a decrease in the number of operators, Blackerby encouraged anyone in the community to consider a career in transit. 

“It’s a great place to work and some of our drivers have been driving for 47 years,” the planning and marketing manager said, mentioning the coverage and pension available from the agency.