Editorial: MTD needs to improve services to match fee hike

Editorial%3A+MTD+needs+to+improve+services+to+match+fee+hike

Scott Buffon, Opinion Editor

If City College students must deal with over-crowded late buses, the Metropolitan Transit District can deal with keeping current transportation fees where they are.

The transportation fee tacked on with City College enrollment that all students must pay would rise from $26 to $43 if the district gets their way. The higher fee corresponds to the growing ridership, according to the district.

The alternative to raising fees is to eliminate the partnership between City College and Metropolitan Transit altogether and would force students who ride the bus to pay regular district fees.

The Channels urges the district to prioritize riders’ needs and enhance service in exchange for the tuition hike. Buses need to be able to accommodate the volume of students and be more punctual with their agenda if they expect students to pay more.

The Metropolitan Transit District has an agreement with City College to offer unlimited bus rides within each semester for a set price. The transit district has informed the Associated Student Senate that the price hike is to keep the agreement profitable. The Associated Student Senate, who met with officials from the district on Friday, March 22, have no set date to vote on the fee increase.

The only thing that makes the body odor and reluctant mingling on the tightly occupied rides tolerable is the fact that we pay a low, one-time price to do so.  If we must pay more, the bus ride experience should be improved. There should be enough space to comfortably sway with the bus’s every turn without having worry about bumping into strangers.

Last year, there were 13,000 incidents in which a route has been too full to accept any more passengers and has been forced to leave people behind. Among the busiest bus routes are lines 4, 5, 15x, 16 and 17.

15x is the most notorious route since it is the only direct line between Isla Vista and City College. During 2012, this route transported 320,501 total passengers (about 30 percent total) and drove 176,884 revenue miles, over 55 percent. The 15x line costs $696,482 to operate annually.

Last semester, metropolitan transit did a month-long trial run of a “slinky bus,” for the 15x line. The “slinky bus” is 62-foot articulated bus that would solve for the over-crowding students on the SBCC and UCSB route. However, there has been no word whether this bus has been purchased or will be used in the future.

The Metropolitan Transit District’s General Manager Sherrie Fisher stated that they realize they are not accommodating students’ needs. What she hasn’t said is if they plan to do something about it.

Public transportation around the nation is notorious for their inconsistent bus schedules.

A saving grace about public transportation in Santa Barbara is that it’s relatively cheap.

One of San Francisco’s public transportation system, the Bay Area Rapid Transit, can cost anywhere from $1.75 to $7.95 for a one-way trip, according to their website. Within a month, this could add up to well over the price the transit district is suggesting we pay.

For anyone with a tight budget in need of transportation, it would be much easier to pay $46 a semester for unlimited use, instead of amassing that same debt within a month or even a week.

The transit district has offered the option of gradually enforcing the 60% hike over the next four years to lessen the blow.

This is not the first request for additional income the district has asked of City College.

In 2008, the district fees rose from $19 to its current price of $26.

The agreement was voted on by students in Spring 2009 and won in a landslide margin of 629-14.

There should be no reason for the district to request such a rise in fees, without accommodating the simple request for accurate bus schedules and larger buses.

Granted, some students may still be saying, “Why should I pay the fee at all if I never use the service?” Even if you don’t use the bus service though, the fees still benefit all students.

The increased amount of people who would ride the bus if the busing system improved, would free up the roads and parking lots. The decrease in drivers would also benefit the environment by cutting down on gas emissions.

It isn’t a large request to ask Metropolitan Transit District to do its job.

We will hear your request for hiked tuition, if you hear our request for fair treatment.