The SBMTD’s Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday to accept service changes as outlined in a plan from its planning staff, first presented before the Board in late April. The plan, which takes effect in August, brings a number of cuts aimed at reducing costs in underperforming lines.
Lines 9 and 22, which were both singled out as among Santa Barbara’s worst-performing, had become a point of contention between the public and MTD, with 33 public comments urging MTD to keep Line 22 operating. Both will continue to operate, although the 9 will be limited to peak hour and midday service, and the 22 will eliminate three weekday one-way trips.
Most other cuts increase the wait times on lines like the 1, 2, 3, 5, and 37. Some school booster service is being cut or consolidated: the 6:05 a.m. line 24x will cease to run, and the line 15x schedule is being adjusted to more closely adhere to SBCC’s evening class schedule.
These cuts come in something of a time of crisis for MTD. With the fixed-price contract for diesel increasing in June and expiring a year thereafter, MTD faces at least a 15 percent increase in fuel costs, which are currently at $2.47 a gallon, but could rise to $3 as new bids start coming in. No driver layoffs are required at this time.
Some concern was raised by the board with regard to the 30/31 shuttle, arguing that docking cruise ships should assist with the cost of extra shuttle service for the increased number of passengers, which David Damiano, who was presenting on behalf of staff, said they would look into.
Similarly considered was a request from the Carpinteria Chamber of Commerce that line 36 be extended to reach nearby hotels. Since the bus currently lets out at a shopping center just blocks from the hotels in question, the planning staff recommended against the extension.
There were no public comments. After briefly discussing elementary school outreach and the possibility of an electric car charging station at MTD’s Olive Street headquarters, the board adjourned, two minutes behind schedule.