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MTD Spokesperson Talks $4 Million Transit Center Facelift

Release Date: July 2,2019

Photo: Harvest Keeney Santa Barbara MTD

New live-update television screens, drought-resistant landscaping and a new loading platform  – the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transportation District (MTD) Transit Center will be getting a $4 million renovation and gutting, scheduled to begin late 2019. 

The existing Transit Center, located at 1020 Chapala Street in downtown Santa Barbara, was built in 1974 and hasn’t had anything more than a “cosmetic facelift” since, according to MTD spokesperson Hillary Blackerby. 

“We’re excited to be able to give people a more modern facility,” Blackerby said. “If we were designing [the current building] from scratch, we wouldn’t design it [the way it was designed in 1974].” 

“Obviously, we have a lot more [busing] volume now then we did in 1974.” 

This is a project that has been in the works for a while, Blackerby said. The interior spaces will see changes to the ceiling, floor, paint, fixtures, seating areas, customer service windows, employee areas, control room, and the restrooms, among other renovations. The exterior will see changes to loading platforms, curb ramps, and waste bins. 

The sidewalk, curbs, and gutters in front of the building will also be repaved and changed. 

The new television screens will show live updates of when the buses are coming and going — think airplane departure screens, Blackerby explained. While the information is already visible on the SBMTD BusTracker app and texting service, the televisions are a “nice amenity for people.” 

Additionally, the switch to drought-tolerant landscaping and LED lighting is twofold, Blackerby said, noting that drought-tolerant landscaping “looks better” cosmetically and saves water. According to Blackerby, the LED lights also “save a lot of energy” and are brighter, which is better for waiting passengers’ safety. 

Before the renovation to the actual building can begin, however, the MTD will begin setting up a smaller, temporary transit facility at the corner of City Parking Lot 3. The temporary facilities will have a ticket booth, a ticket vending machine, and portable restrooms, according to a press release sent out on Thursday. 

The district will begin setting up the temporarily transit facility in late July. The renovations to the current Transit Center building won’t begin until after the temporary facilities are set up — projected to be late September — and the renovation itself will take approximately eight months, Blackerby explained. 

While the current Transit Center is being renovated, the buses will be stopping to load and unload passengers along the 1000 and 1100 blocks on the east side of Chapala Street, and the south side of the 0 block of West Figueroa Street.

Furthermore, the Ventura County Transportation Commission Coastal Express bus stop will be moved up to Chapala and Anapamu, across from City Parking Lot 5. 

MTD will also be relocating or removing several pieces of benches, street furniture, block walls, and other landscaping to create these additional loading zones. 

All buses will remain in full operation during the project. 

The MTD is holding an open house on Tuesday, July 2, 4-6 p.m., at the Transit Center to inform the public about the project. The goal of the open house is to do outreach in advance, Blackerby explained. 

“This project is for our passengers,” she said. “We don’t think there’s going to be much of an impact to the neighborhood … but we like to warn people.” 

“[It’s] definitely going to be worth the wait and a small headache.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Hillary Blackerby’s name and incorrectly referred to the SBMTD BusTracker as “Tap.”