Hours of service will be expanded on two bus lines, one of which is heavily used by UC Santa Barbara students, starting in the fall of 2015.
The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District bus lines, the 12x and 24x — both express routes that run from the downtown Santa Barbara transit center on Chapala Street to Camino Real Marketplace at Storke Road and Hollister Avenue, with the 24x ending at UCSB, will be increasing service hours so that the buses run later in the day.
After the changes, the 24x — which runs from 6:30 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. daily — will continue to run until 11:15 p.m. each night, said Steve Maas, MTD’s manager of government relations and compliance.
The 12x will see expanded hours on weekend nights, ending service at 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sunday, instead of 8 p.m. on Saturday and 5:15 p.m. on Sunday.
Maas said that last year, the 24x served more than 700,000 passengers, almost half of whom were UCSB students.
The 12x had fewer UCSB students, since it doesn’t directly serve the university. The bus line’s 300,000 annual passengers included about 17,000 UCSB students, Maas said.
“They’re definitely very busy lines,” he said.
The start date isn’t certain yet, Maas said, but is tentatively expected for August 2015.
The additional service hours will be paid for by UCSB, and amount to about $384,000 yearly for both lines, he said.
In a statement announcing the service expansion, UCSB officials said the move will benefit the university community as well as the larger region.
“It’s a win for the campus, it’s a win for our partners at MTD and a win for the larger community,” said Marc Fisher, UCSB senior associate vice chancellor for administrative services.
As part of the agreement, UCSB will also be adding a new bus line that will run between Camino Real Marketplace and the proposed San Joaquin Village student housing project being built at Storke and El Colegio roads.
That project is expected to be running in 2016, and UCSB is paying about $918,000 to get that line operating, Maas said.
Bus ridership is also heavily used to Isla Vista from Santa Barbara City College, and Maas said that three articulated buses — also known as “bendy buses” for their accordion middle — are on the way and will be in use by early fall of 2014.
They’ll be used on the 24x line as well as the 15x that runs to Isla Vista from SBCC, Maas said.