Pixel Tracker

Monday, February 18 , 2019, 7:27 am | Fair 44º


Advocates for Poor on Board With Approved MTD Rate Increases

The new bus fares, which will generate about $1.46 million, are lower than initially proposed.

The MTD board of directors adopted a new rate schedule Monday night that drew cheers from members of an advocacy group for the poor.

The board, whose meeting began in front of a packed house, mollified the advocates by lowering the amount of fare increases proposed by MTD staff in the categories that tend to be used most by the financially disadvantaged, including 10-day passes for k-12 students and seniors.

“We knew the bus fares were going to go up — they didn’t have any alternatives,” said Belen Seara, executive director of the PUEBLO Education Fund, a local advocacy group for the poor. “We were hoping to get the best deal, and actually, it was very good.”

All told, the rate hikes will generate about $1.46 million — about $200,000 less than the initial proposal would have yielded, and just shy of the bus provider’s projected shortfall of $1.5 million.

The new fares mean that, beginning Jan. 1, the cost for an adult single ride will jump to $1.75 from $1.25. The single-ride cost for seniors will increase to 85 cents from 60 cents.

The board also decided to raise the cost of bus fares 40 percent for students at UCSB and Santa Barbara City College. The SBCC rate hike was less than final because its contract with MTD requires voter approval by the students. 

Among the cost increases that came to the relief of PUEBLO was the price of a 10-ride pass for K-12 students, which increased to $8.25 from $7.50. MTD staff on Monday originally had proposed an increase to $10.

Seara said many of the families represented by her organization purchase the 10-ride passes. She said they tend to shy away from the 30-day passes, which make for a better deal in the long run, but require too much cash upfront for some families.

Another price increase that fell in line with her request was the 30-day pass for seniors, which will rise to $20 from $18. MTD staff had proposed an increase to $27, she said. In addition, Seara and PUEBLO were moderately pleased with the decision to increase the fare for adult 10-ride passes to $11.50 from $10. They were hoping for $11, but the final amount was lower than the originally proposed $12.50. 

MTD raised the amount of the proposed fare increases for commuters who use the Valley Express. Ten-day passes will jump to $50 from $35; the original proposal was for $45. Thirty-day passes will rise to $160 from $120; the initial plan called for raising it to $150.

As for SBCC, any fare increase of more than 20 percent requires a vote of approval by students, officials said. The college has a contract in place with MTD in which all students pay a bus fee, thereby reducing the cost of a student bus pass. If students vote against it, then those who would like to ride the bus would need to pay the regular rate.

If approved by students, semester-long passes would rise to $24.50 from $17.50. Summer passes would increase to $10.50 from $7.50.

MTD Assistant General Manager Jerry Estrada noted that “24.50 is the cost of half a tank of gas. That’s still a heck of a deal.”

Fares cover only about 40 percent of the agency’s operating budget. The rest comes from state sales taxes, federal taxes and local Measure D sales taxes. Those amounts have stayed the same even as operating costs have risen, MTD officials say.

Noozhawk staff writer Rob Kuznia can be reached at [email protected]

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.