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Wednesday, November 21 , 2018, 7:41 am | Mostly Cloudy 55º


MTD’s Transit Center Decision Won’t Be a Rash One

The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District's current transit center was built in 1974 when MTD operated 12 buses. Today we operate 103 vehicles, many of which are battery-electric and hybrid-electric. Needless to say we have
exceeded capacity of our current transit center in the 1000 block of Chapala St. The MTD is proud to be partnered with the city of Santa Barbara Redevelopment Agency as we explore future possibilities for this very important community asset.

Recently, we jointly sent out a Request for Qualifications, or RFQ, for a master developer. We received several submittals and are currently reviewing each very carefully. During the RFQ process we look at potential developer’s skills and qualifications; we are not reviewing specific designs for the project site.

Before any designs are crafted we will conduct extensive public outreach. Our goal is to create a state-of-the-art transit center that will meet the needs of our community for today and for the future. We are sensitive to your concerns of size, bulk and scale. We will continue to involve the community in planning for the future of this highly visible site.

Additionally, I have heard concerns regarding MTD’s choice to remain at our present location. Currently, passengers ride into the central business district for work and business all day long. Putting this in perspective, MTD bears a federal distinction as a transit-intensive city in recognition of the unusually high level of transit service and ridership for a small city. Area residents use the service accordingly, taking more than 7,600,000 rides annually — or 24,000 on a
typical weekday. On an average weekday, more than 7,400 passengers board at our current transit center. The majority of these riders depend on public transit for transportation, and for many, their destination is downtown Santa Barbara.

If the transit center were to be relocated to the rail station, our passengers would be severely affected by the move. Our passengers would be inconvenienced with more than 1,680 hours per day of wasted travel time. This is a large number considering a maximum of three peak-hour commuter trains that would be serving the rail station.

As a transit professional, I understand the importance of a multimodal facility. MTD performed extensive analysis of the current rail station and found the location, size and surrounding infrastructure to be inadequate for our needs. Had the current rail station been located in the central business district, a multomodal facility would have been ideal. The MTD and the RDA staff agree that the best location is the current location. An independent study validated these findings.

I assure you that when commuter rail comes to Santa Barbara, MTD will have satellite facilities with dedicated buses ready and waiting to disperse our commuter population.

Sherrie Fisher
General Manager, Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District

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