By Angela Hu
Over the summer when I was staying in Santa Barbara for a job on campus as a counselor for the UCSB Day Camp, we had a three-strike system, which is once you received three strikes they would terminate your job. I received a strike for lateness, but it was actually due to the bus not coming as scheduled. I found this ongoing problem continued after the fall quarter started.
Sometimes the bus got canceled without notifying the users on Google Maps or other apps that track the buses. I found this troubling because people kept waiting for the bus when in fact the bus will not be coming, which is a waste of their time and that it would cause students to miss their classes and other riders who are using the public transportation to arrive late to work. The other problem that I found was that sometimes during noon time on school days there were too many students waiting for the bus on the bus loop by North Hall; the amount of the students surpassing the capacity of the bus. This causes some students in a rush to jostle and crowd on the bus, which is dangerous and unfair for the others who have been waiting for a long time.
After I observed the problem, I did some research and found out that during the summer Santa Barbara reduced their service due to a decrease in drivers. This not only happened locally in Santa Barbara, but also throughout the whole country. The transit system faces a shortage of drivers for a variety of reasons. Some are aging, the others are retiring, and some of them are not returning after being furloughed. Furthermore, for the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD), when they are planning services ahead of time, they face the challenge of not knowing whether UCSB or SBCC is planning on resuming the classes online or in person until the last minute. MTD also needs time to train drivers and people to invest their time before joining the workforce. It takes six weeks to train people who do not have a license.
“Even with the regular hours with the bus sometimes they are delayed or they just don’t show up and I’m late to class. It says that it will come but it doesn’t come and I’m often standing there for a while past the scheduled time,” says Santa Barbara City College student Esther Ramos.
What you can do when the bus is late: The agency said that if a bus is 10 minutes late, riders should call the Transit Center at 805.963.3366 to ask for a status update. More reporting on this issue can be found in Santa Barbara City College’s publication The Channels.