ISLA VISTA, Calif. — Thursday night is college night in downtown Santa Barbara.
For nearly 30 years, this was a time when UCSB students were typically transported by Bill’s Bus.
The safe and sober transportation system offered a $10 round-trip fare between downtown Santa Barbara and Isla Vista.
“We would take between 20,000 and 30,000 kids each year downtown on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights,” Bill’s Bus owner Craig Jenkins said.
Yet for the last 19 months, the buses have been put on pause and parked in a private lot.
“When we stopped running in March of 2020, two months later our insurance company went bankrupt,” Jenkins explained.
He also said that the least expensive quote other insurance companies offered was $20,000 per bus per year, roughly four times what he paid before the pandemic.
For this reason, Jenkins sought community support by launching an online campaign.
“Put the word out on the GoFundMe, posted in the I partied in Isla Vista ‘95-‘02 Facebook group,” he said. “That group rallied around very quickly we came up with $14,000.”
As of October 7th, the GoFundMe page had raised more than $14,400.
Arrive Alive Santa Barbara — a local nonprofit promoting sober transportation services for UCSB students — recently joined the effort to help Bill’s Bus.
“The number of students that go downtown and utilize Bill’s Bus is huge,” Arrive Alive Santa Barbara president Jeremy Patterson said. “It’s basically just making sure that students have a solution to drinking and driving.”
“The idea is to make sure that everyone can arrive alive to graduation, make it from freshman year all the way through,” Jenkins concluded. “You’re dealing with a demographic that is quite vulnerable to drinking and driving.”
If the GoFundMe page can raise $200,000, Jenkins will offer his bus service free of charge for all UCSB students throughout this school year.