Ben Ciccati

A Day Without a Bus

It Might Happen Here

Thursday, July 18, 2013
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The Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) is preparing to drastically reduce transit service unless federal funds are released by the U.S. Department of Labor. We are seeking input from the community regarding this serious transportation loss.

How does this affect the community? The Metropolitan Transit District is your public transportation provider. MTD provides bus service in the cities of Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, and Goleta, and throughout the South Coast. The transit district is a political subdivision of the State of California and is responsible for following all applicable state and federal laws.

If you ride with MTD, you are among approximately eight million annual passengers on our buses within and between the communities of the South Coast. On a typical weekday, approximately 26,000 passengers ride MTD buses. The buses are often full. You may have already asked MTD to increase transit service.

Even if you hardly ever, or never, choose to ride MTD, you are among those who benefit from reduced roadway congestion, more available parking, and the community service MTD provides for those who cannot drive themselves. Imagine, if you can, road conditions if those 26,000 trips per weekday cannot be made by transit.

MTD relies on the federal funds that are currently on hold. Without these dollars, MTD has no choice but to implement major transit service reductions no later than January 2014.

The service cuts would include the complete elimination of some routes and the severely reduced frequency of others. The remaining buses would often be overloaded and forced to leave would-be riders at the curb. The cuts would affect MTD’s entire service area, from the Ventura County line to the western end of Goleta, forcing many current riders to find other forms of transportation.

How did this happen?

Last September, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013, commonly referred to as PEPRA. A number of labor unions — including Teamsters Local 186, representing MTD’s drivers, supervisors, mechanics, and utility workers — have objected to provisions of the pension reform act, claiming that it conflicts with federal transit law (Section 13c). Federal transit law requires that employee protections (especially collective bargaining) be in place and certified by the U.S. Department of Labor prior to the release of federal transit funds to a public transit provider.

Teamsters Local 186 and other unions representing transit employees in California have formally objected to the certification of a number of federal grants, including MTD’s grant, arguing that the Pension Reform Act of 2013 conflicts with bargaining rights related to pensions. As a result, over $1.2 billion in federal transit funds is being withheld from transit agencies throughout California, pending a decision by the Department of Labor.

Locally, $4.6 million in federal transit funds has been withheld. MTD and Teamsters Local 186 have agreed that half of those funds are reimbursement to the MTD for expenses incurred prior to the enactment of the Pension Reform Act of 2013. A new grant request for half of the funds has been submitted and is pending Department of Labor approval.

With a heavy heart, MTD has prepared two Emergency Service Reduction Plan options showing what would be required to enact such a severe service reduction. These are available for review on MTD’s website and at MTD’s Transit Center (1020 Chapala St.). The transit district is hosting a meeting regarding this emergency plan on Wednesday, July 24, at 5:30 p.m. at the MTD Administration Building, at 550 Olive Street in Santa Barbara. At this meeting, the MTD Board of Directors and staff will listen to the community’s input. If you are not able to attend the meeting, you can write to MTD at 550 Olive Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101; call MTD at (805)963-3364 x 555; or send an email to If this funding issue is not resolved, MTD’s Board of Directors is expected to make the final decision on service reductions at its meeting of August 20, at 8:30 a.m.

Besides providing input on the Emergency Service Reduction Plan, you can help by contacting your federal and state government representatives to ask that the PEPRA matter (California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013) with the U.S. Department of Labor be resolved quickly. Also, ask that MTD’s grant request for half of its funding be certified immediately.

Sherrie Fisher is the Metropolitan Transit District’s general manager.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

What about contacting the Teamster Union and telling them to withdraw their objection. The worse possible outcome would be agreement to not include the teamster union members in the CA pension reform.
The pension reform was a small step in the right direction, chipping away at it would be a wrong move.

loneranger (anonymous profile)
July 18, 2013 at 12:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

More evidence of Santa Barbara's implosion.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 18, 2013 at 4:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's not just the Teamsters or MTD, it's statewide!!!! The money being held is grants from the Department of Labor, money which is allocated for the employee benefits and pensions... Federal Money NOT state

retprotector (anonymous profile)
July 19, 2013 at 8:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Isn't the real culprit Gov Brown, who made pension changes that violate contracts? Not to defend the Teamsters (as if), but they seem to have a valid legal point. Another failure of government to do its diligence.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
July 20, 2013 at 9:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It's finally happening: services to the taxpayer and bus rider are being reduced to pay for health care benefits and retiree pensions that were promised by leaders in the past.

To deal with this, the MTD, the Independent and various agitating "community activists" will demand higher taxes and fares to keep these pensions and benefits for current and former MTD employees rolling (and keep up union membership, paying their dues to fund union bureaucrats' jobs).

if the riders and taxpayers don't pony up, then protesters (teamsters on their "days off" paid for by taxpayers) and illegal immigrants will take to the streets with Mexican flags and scream things like "No justice, No peace!" and "Si se puede!" until the majority lib-dem population's collective eyes well up with tears (or their bathrooms are not cleaned because their illegal labor housekeeper's can't get to work) and will vote to raise taxes on productive citizens.

Anyone who dis-agrees with the tax and fare increases will be called a racist, a tea-party fanatic or an "evil, uncaring conservative".

willy88 (anonymous profile)
July 22, 2013 at 8:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"Anyone who dis-agrees with the tax and fare increases will be called a racist, a tea-party fanatic or an "evil, uncaring conservative"."

You know the liberal progressives very well!!!!!! Nice job......

Priceless (anonymous profile)
July 23, 2013 at 9:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

When your first thought it's the pensioneers fault, maybe you don't work for a living with the hopes of saving for retirement?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 23, 2013 at 12:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's not the pensioneers fault. It's the fault of a government that gives out pension increases to buy labor peace without regard to the long term cost to the taxpayer. The biggest individual contributors to the problem were Jerry Brown (who approved collective bargaining for gov employees in CA) and Gray Davis (who bought the union votes that elected him by promising, and providing, a huge increase in pension entitlements.

According to Moody's, California's current total state and local government pension liability is $329 billion, which works out to about $8500 for every man, woman, transgender, and child in the state. And growing.

And BTW, my retirement income is from my own lifetime of work and savings, not from a pension plan.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
July 23, 2013 at 12:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A pension does represent a lifetime or so of work, it's not just money handed out to people. Raise corporate taxes if you must.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 23, 2013 at 12:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think we've all lost sight of what a pension was originally supposed to be - a stipend to get people by in the twilight of their lives.

With that in mind, the hogs that've set them selves to retire with nearly full pay and benefits at age 50, are going to have to go on a diet. (OINK, OINK!!!)

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
July 23, 2013 at 1:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Some people would say the same about your SSI spiritwalker, glass houses...

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 23, 2013 at 2:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Let's pay public pensions on the same scale at SSI .. that would solve the pension problem.

loneranger (anonymous profile)
July 25, 2013 at 4:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Do you regularly just break contracts you've entered into with people out of convenience? Do you really think someone who devotes their life to in this case public service shpuld just be given table scraps when they are no longer useful to you? Shameful.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 25, 2013 at 4:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You can send a friendly email to the Dept of Labor asking them to release the funding at this link:

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
July 26, 2013 at 2:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Among the routes commonly mentioned for elimination (or severe constriction) is the cross-town shuttle, but the State St and waterfront shuttles will stay (or slightly reduced): why? The tourists use the latter pair but it's mainly low-income workers who ride the cross-town, and who cares about them? And Willy's worried about getting his bathrooms cleaned. Let 'em walk to their physical jobs in town seems to be the angle, kinda like let 'em eat cake.
am with you KV: raise corporate taxes.
And JL your point is ever "BTW" how "my retirement income is from my own lifetime of work and savings, not from a pension plan." Bully for you. And, exactly the same with me, so what? While you conveniently blame the Gov, what about the recent pension reforms he got passed? And it was your own City Council (non-partisan!) who over the years gave the fat pensions spiritwanker writes about -- "nearly full pay and benefits at age 50".

DrDan (anonymous profile)
July 26, 2013 at 3:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The reason that pensions got so out of control in the first place was that politicians were handing cushy pensions out like candy to buy votes. Pensions are the perfect tool for politicians as well, because the bill will come due long after the politicians have left office. The politician could still buy the votes he needs from the union and not have to face the outrage from the taxpayers if salaries were raised instead.

Botany (anonymous profile)
July 26, 2013 at 4:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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