The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) Board of Directors announced a fiscal and public health emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The declaration allows the general manager or designees to take any actions necessary to protect MTD employees or the public from the COVID-19 virus, including reducing bus services. Since the outbreak began in Santa Barbara County, MTD has already cut back or cancelled several bus lines to schools and has provided free fares on all fixed bus routes.
“Declaring a fiscal emergency acknowledges the recent precipitous drop in our ridership and loss of passenger fares due to COVID-19. We also anticipate a major decline in sales tax revenue, and need to gird for these losses as an agency,” said MTD’s Board Chair, Dave Davis.
The fiscal and public health emergency comes as ridership is dropping dramatically. Last Monday, for example, Hillary Blackerby, planning and marketing manager for MTD said there were only 8,000 riders when there are normally about 24,000.
The emergency declaration does not mean the public transportation board is already planning to reduce more services, Blackerby assured. “It allows them to be more nimble,” she explained.