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The waterfront and downtown MTD shuttle returns next month after a long pause

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The electric shuttle system in Santa Barbara, one of the first of its kind in the nation, is coming back. It was sidelined in 2020 for a variety of reasons including funding, a shortage of drivers and the pandemic.

The Metropolitan Transit District said it will have a full route along the waterfront and into the core of downtown. It will not be the exact route it had prior to the stopage.

The service coming back is temporary. It will be called the Downtown-Waterfront Shuttle.

The service will operate only in Santa Barbara on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays between May 31 and September 2, 2024. It will also operate on July 4 and Labor Day Monday September 2.

MTD said, "the demand for the return of a Downtown-Waterfront service has been high for several years now, after the original Downtown and Waterfront Shuttles were suspended at the beginning of the pandemic. This will restore transit access to the Santa Barbara Amtrak Station and many other important destinations."

The newly returned route will not stop at Stearns Wharf by the dolphin fountain but it will have numerous stops on Cabrillo Blvd.

The shuttle will travel from the harbor to East Beach, up State St. to Gutierrez and on a route that includes Chapala St., Sola St, and Anacapa St. before returning to the waterfront on State St. again. It will not go on State St. through the downtown promenade.

The cost will be 50¢ a ride. The entire route will take about an hour.

Two other routes are going through changes. MTD has put out the details and asked for public comments in person and an online survey. The changes are set for August 19.

The service changes are all based on bus operator availability.

► Extended span of service on Line 15x (SBCC/UCSB Express) until 9:00 p.m.

Line 15x (SBCC/UCSB Express) operates express weekday serving SBCC, UCSB, Isla Vista, and Camino Real Marketplace. This line currently runs from approximately 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with headways around 30 minutes in the AM peak and hourly for the rest of the day.

Prior to the pandemic, Line 15x had more frequent service and a longer span of service. There is demand for service past 6:00 p.m. since many classes end after that time.

The intention is to extend the span of service to around 9:00 p.m., with hourly frequency between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.

► Increased frequency on Line 27 (Isla Vista Shuttle)

Line 27 (Isla Vista Shuttle) serves the heart of Isla Vista, the UCSB Campus, and Goleta’s Camino Real Marketplace. Pre-pandemic, this line operated on 20 minute headways with extremely high ridership. Service on the route was reduced to 36 minute headways during the UCSB campus closure in the heart of the pandemic lockdown, and has remained at that level ever since due to the bus operator shortage.

There is significant demand for more Line 27 service based on current ridership. The intention is to increase frequency to 20 minutes on weekdays during UCSB’s Fall, Spring, and Winter quarters.

Community meetings are on this schedule:

6:00 pm, Thursday, April 11
Goleta City Hall, Council Chambers
130 Cremona Dr #B, Goleta

6:00 pm, Tuesday, April 16
Carpinteria Library
5141 Carpinteria Ave, Carpinteria

12:00 pm, Thursday, April 18
Santa Barbara City College, Room A161
721 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara

6:00 pm, Wednesday, April 24
Virtual Meeting–Zoom Webinar

For more information go to: MTD or MTD online survey

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.

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