In what Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District officials call "the biggest day of the year," MTD is prepared to roll out several service changes on Monday, including some that affect Santa Barbara City College.
MTD has altered Line 15x, an express bus that travels from Isla Vista to City College. The buses along that route will no longer weave through the streets of Isla Vista when making morning stops. Instead, the Line 15x will pick up along El Colegio only.
The change is designed to speed up bus traffic and reduce potential congestion problems. MTD buses would lose time by driving through the narrow streets of Isla Vista. Also on Monday, beginning at 7:13 at Santa Catalina Hall on El Colegio, MTD will have six buses — a main bus and five boosters — making pickups to transport students to City College.
"It has been quite a challenge having enough seats, particularly in the morning," said Jerry Estrada, MTD's general manager.
Nearly 263,000 Santa Barbara City College students rode the line 15x last year.
The first day of City College is typically a tense day for MTD officials, who prepare themselves for the crush of new students learning the system for the first time, while trying to get to classes on time.
George Amoon, MTD's planning manager, said buses had been late "a bunch" from getting tangled in traffic in Isla Vista. It was his goal to "make it truly an express" bus.
Estrada said service in previous years was "insufficient," but that he is hopeful that no City College students will be left behind. MTD also plans more frequent pickups from City College to Isla Vista in the evenings, with pickups ever 30 minutes instead of every hour.
Later this fall, MTD said it plans to use "articulated buses," which are two buses essentially connected in the middle in accordion-style fashion, which will allow MTD to carry more passengers in a single trip.
In addition to Line 15x, MTD plans to increase service from the Transit Center to City College on Line 16. MTD will add an additional bus and pickup times will improve from every 30 minutes to every 20 minutes.
"The first few weeks are challenging for everyone," Estrada said.
Other MTD service changes include:
» Elimination of Line 22, which traveled from the downtown Transit Center to the Santa Barbara Mission and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.
» One additional bus during morning and afternoon peak times for the Crosstown Shuttle.
» Trips along Carpinteria Seaside Shuttle will move faster and more on time.