The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District voted Tuesday to increase the fares of its Downtown-Waterfront Shuttle in Santa Barbara and the Seaside Shuttle in Carpinteria.
Since the state Supreme Court ruled to uphold the Legislature’s decision to eliminate California’s redevelopment agencies by Feb. 1, the City of Santa Barbara took over all RDA business left behind.
According to a news release issued Tuesday by the MTD, the City of Santa Barbara can’t continue to support the electric shuttles, and the rates will be increased from 25 cents to 50 cents starting July 2. Seniors and disabled passengers will continue to pay only 25 cents.
“Since the RDAs are being dissolved with the state mandate, that left us with $300,000 that was not funded to support public transit,” said Dave Damiano, Santa Barbara MTD manager of transit development and community relations. “So jointly with the city, we offered to raise the fare so they can support more services. It was a goal to keep the service alive.”
The board also voted to start the shuttle’s frequent service at 11 a.m. instead of 10 a.m.
Also in July, MTD will eliminate the Commuter Shuttle and reduce the midday crosstown routes. The Commuter Shuttle is an electric vehicle that picks up workers who park at the lot on the corner of Castillo and Carrillo streets and takes them downtown and back for free, if they have a commuter lot parking pass. The crosstown route, or Lines 1 and 2, will have one bus instead of two run midday between the Westside and the Eastside.
There are other changes that will go into effect on Aug. 27, including changes to Lines 6, 11 and 15x.
So far this year, MTD has turned away 800 passengers, up 28.6 percent from last year, Damiano said. One of the busiest routes has been Line 15x, and the three “articulated” or “bendy” buses should help satisfy that demand, according to Kate Schwab, MTD assistant manager of marketing and customer service.
Schwab urged the community to participate in National Dump the Pump Day on June 21.
“It’s perfect for people who wonder if public transit will work for them,” she said. “Even if it will work for one day a week, that’s the day to get on the bus.”