SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Santa Maria Regional Transit (SMRT) is introducing a new bus route beginning today, as well as offering all riders free fares for the next two weeks.
The new Route 13X (Express) will serve select stops on North Broadway and neighborhoods along Taylor Street and Donovan Road.
SMRT said the new route has been created in response to increasing ridership, particularly from families and their students who attend Pioneer Valley High School.
Overall, SMRT reports a 96% increase in ridership since implementing several significant changes with its routing and schedules throughout the entire busing system in Jan. 2022.
"Public transit has been particularly popular with northern Santa Maria families and their students," said Santa Maria Transit Services Manager Gamaliel Anguiano. "It is common for Routes 2, 3, and 9, which serve northern Santa Maria, to reach capacity as many riders use them to attend school, medical, employment and commercial opportunities in the area. We anticipate this next fall to be another busy period. The creation of the new Route 13X will help alleviate congestion along Donovan Road, and diffuse the crowding of the current routes as well as improve their on-time performance.”
Route 13X will operate only during the academic year, Monday through Friday, from 6:45 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.
At the same time Route 13X comes online, SMRT is also offering the public free fares for a two week period beginning Monday, Aug. 7 through Friday, Aug. 18, which coincides with the start of the new school year.
The new route is the latest change with SMRT over the last two years. In addition to the modified route and scheduling format, SMRT also introduced two electric buses in Nov. 2022.
According to Anguiano, 16 additional electric buses are set to arrive and be put into service in Santa Maria sometime in early 2024.
For more information about SMRT, visit www.rideSMRT.org.