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Riders On Board with MTD but Want Faster, More-Frequent Bus Service

Survey respondents also express a willingness to utilize the Santa Barbara transit agency more often

Many customers of the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District perceive the service as slow and infrequent, but they have positive perceptions of drivers and system safety. That’s according to recently released results of a bus rider survey conducted by MTD from mid-September through Thanksgiving.

MTD received 955 responses through an online link and paper survey. The survey was offered in English and Spanish.

Of those who responded, most of the riders are white, female and ages 18 to 22. The riders reported using multiple forms of transportation, not solely MTD. Besides riding the bus, the respondents said they also often walk, drive alone or ride a bicycle.

MTD General Manager Jerry Estrada said he was surprised by a couple of key results.

“The respondents to the survey indicated a willingness to use multiple forms of transportation to get around our community,” Estrada said. “Forty-four percent of respondents mentioned that reducing their carbon footprint was a top reason for utilizing MTD’s service. Additionally, respondents overwhelmingly agree that our drivers are professional and courteous, and that our service and facilities are safe.”

Estrada also said he was pleasantly surprised “that there appears to be a significant percentage of individuals that occasionally utilize MTD’s service who may be willing to ride more frequently.”

In other survey findings:

» About 220 people said they ride the bus more than three days a week, and about 190 said they ride the bus more than five times a week.

» More than 400 people said they take MTD because they live, work or go to school near bus lines. About 41 percent said it saves them money on gas and other expenses.

» Only 10 percent said they take the bus because it saves them time.

» Bus riders said increased frequency of bus service, expanded hours of bus service, cleaner and safer bus stops and shelters, better amenities, including WiFi and air conditioning, and the ability to buy or reload bus passes online or on a smartphone, respectively, would get them to ride the bus more often.

Estrada said the survey results will help MTD “continue our efforts to improve our on-time performance, reassess our existing express services and to enhance our customer service functions.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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