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Shuttles stop and MTD bus service slows down during the virus crisis

MTD shuttle
John Palminteri
MTD shuttle bus service ends in Santa Barbara due to the Covid-19 crisis. Other schedule cutbacks and ridership limits are taking place this week. (Photo: John Palminteri)
MTD shuttle
John Palminteri
MTD shuttle bus service ends in Santa Barbara due to the Covid-19 crisis. Other schedule cutbacks and ridership limits are taking place this week. (Photo: John Palminteri)
MTD shuttle
John Palminteri
MTD shuttle bus service ends in Santa Barbara due to the Covid-19 crisis. Other schedule cutbacks and ridership limits are taking place this week. (Photo: John Palminteri)
MTD shuttle
John Palminteri
MTD shuttle bus service ends in Santa Barbara due to the Covid-19 crisis. Other schedule cutbacks and ridership limits are taking place this week. (Photo: John Palminteri)
MTD shuttle
John Palminteri
MTD shuttle bus service ends in Santa Barbara due to the Covid-19 crisis. Other schedule cutbacks and ridership limits are taking place this week. (Photo: John Palminteri)


SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -  The Santa Barbara MTD has reduced its service due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and impacts affecting ridership.


Changes are across the board and riders will need to check their schedules and on line information along with social media posts.

Sunday was the final day prior to the changes. 


The waterfront, downtown and Seaside shuttles had few riders and were parked at the end of the shift with no immediate plans to put them back into service.


With schools cancelling classes, many of the popular routes went empty recently, including the  jammed busses that operate in Isla Vista, UC Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College.


Spacing rules, and social distancing have been enforced.   40-foot busses were only allowed to take eight passengers.   Drivers were not allowed to pick up passengers at a stop if the bus was at capacity.


Further information can be found at : MTD


An MTD news release gave these details:

These reductions are in addition to the ones enacted as of March 19, 2020, on several lines associated with area educational institutions, in light of these schools ceasing campus operations for the remaining 2019-20 school year. Those reductions included the following:

Line 15x (SBCC/UCSB Express)- No service

Line 16 (SBCC Shuttle)- No service

Line 28 (UCSB Shuttle)- No service

Booster services- No service

Line 27 (Isla Vista Shuttle)- Alternative “UCSB out” service as published in the schedule guide and online

These service reductions will continue until further notice.

In addition to the reductions above, additional service reductions will occur. Beginning the morning of Monday, April 6, 2020, the following additional service changes will go into effect, until further notice:

Line 10 (Cathedral Oaks)- No service

Line 30 (Downtown Shuttle)- No service

Line 34 (Waterfront Shuttle)- No service

Line 36 (Seaside Shuttle)- No service

Line 37 (Crosstown Shuttle)- No service

These lines serve areas in Goleta, Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria, but all three areas will still have active transit service. Passengers with questions about schedules and affected routes can call (805) 963-3366 for assistance.

Social Distancing and Loads on Buses

In order to minimize contact between bus operators and passengers at the front door and farebox area, passengers are directed to use the rear door of the bus for boarding and alighting. Passengers using mobility devices or who need the ramp will be allowed to board and alight from the front door of the vehicle. Because of this, MTD is not currently collecting fares.

In an additional effort to maintain social distancing onboard all MTD buses, strict load limits are in place at this time. Drivers are limiting loads to the following: 8 passengers on a 40 foot bus and 5 passengers on a 30 foot bus. Due to this load restriction, a bus may pass up a person waiting at a bus stop if the amount of passengers onboard has already reached the limit.

Transit Center Customer Service

Customer Service functions are still available via phone at (805) 963-3366, and electronically via email to info@sbmtd.gov, the www.sbmtd.gov website, and all MTD social media channels (@santabarbaramtd on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram).

Customer service still operates on normal Transit Center business hours (Monday through Friday, 6am to 7pm, and weekends, 9am to 5pm), At this time there are no walk-up sales, person-to-person transactions, or Ticket Vending Machines available at the Transit Center.

The public is reminded to stay home if they are sick, follow proper health hygiene practices, and maintain appropriate social distance on buses, at the Transit Center, and at bus stops. Due to the Governor’s stay at home order, only people making essential trips or going to work in essential industries should be riding the bus at this time.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and KCOY 12 Central Coast News.