Credit: Daniel Dreifuss (file)

After 13 months of construction work and $3.9 million in renovation costs, the MTD Transit Center in downtown Santa Barbara is gearing up to welcome the general public once again. 

The complete revamp of the premises, built back in 1974, includes improvements such as more efficient lighting, newer bus driveways, landscaping, and a redesigned interior with upgraded bathrooms and plumbing. 

While the outer bus circle driveway reopened back in September, the inside facilities remained closed off to passengers until further notice. “The main purpose of having the center open to the public is for folks to purchase passes, and they don’t currently have to do that,” explained MTD spokesperson Hillary Blackerby. 

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“When we are ready to collect fares again, we will give the public fair warning, and we will open the Transit Center for pass purchases at least a week prior to fare collection so that people have an opportunity to get a pass,” she said.

At the beginning of the pandemic, MTD put a pause on collecting fares.

With COVID-19 restrictions still in effect, face coverings will be required at all times both inside and outside, and people will only be allowed to enter the building to conduct a transaction, inquire about bus routes and schedules, or use the restroom. The total capacity will be limited in accordance with social distancing requirements, as well. 

The project, which was funded by the State of California Transportation Development Act, State Transit Assistance Fund, and the Public Transportation Modernization, Improvement, and Service Enhancement Account Program (PTMISEA), did not see any major changes to the initial timeline despite the unforeseen outbreak of the pandemic while construction was already underway.

 “Construction never goes exactly like you plan or expect, but all in all, we did not face significant challenges once the project began,” Blackerby said. “The pandemic only added a little time because of a few supply chain issues, but the construction crews were able to stay on task and complete their work in a safe manner.” 

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