Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) has closed escrow on a $4.4 million parcel located at 6416 Hollister Avenue in the City of Goleta, former site of Student Transportation of America. The property will serve as an interregional transit facility for SBCAG’s Clean Air Express and Ventura County Transportation Commission’s (VCTC) Coastal Express and will accommodate maintenance, operations and storage of equipment. The $4.4 million purchase was made possible by a $3.8 million competitive grant from the State Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program and funding from the California Department of Transportation’s State of Good Repair program and Santa Barbara County’s local transportation sales tax, Measure A. The transit services will begin to move into the facility on June 30.
The Clean Air Express is operated by SBCAG to serve residents of Northern Santa Barbara County commuting to jobs in Goleta and Santa Barbara. The service features a fleet of 17 charter-style buses.
“In 30 years of service, the Clean Air Express has never had a place it could call home,” said Marjie Kirn, executive director of SBCAG. “Instead of finding various locations to park and store equipment along Camino del Remedio in Santa Barbara, we can now centralize the operation, improve public transit service and support a zero-emission future.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clean Air Express ridership averaged 15,000 boardings per month from Santa Maria, Lompoc and the Santa Ynez Valley. The service currently operates a limited COVID-19 schedule of 18 one-way trips between Santa Maria, Lompoc and the Santa Ynez Valley and South county employment centers.
Zero-emission technology and infrastructure will be installed at SBCAG’s new facility.
“SBCAG recently secured six battery-powered, zero-emission charter-style coaches for use by the Clean Air Express and Coastal Express services, which are expected to be delivered early next year,” said Holly Sierra, chair of SBCAG and mayor of Buellton. “Hundreds of commuters will continue to save money, reduce traffic congestion, contribute to a better environment, and live healthier lives thanks to the strong commitment and leadership of the State.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, VCTC Coastal Express served an average of 15,600 riders per month and 21 round trips per day from Ventura County to Santa Barbara County.
“VCTC is really excited to partner with SBCAG to lead the nation in deploying electric coaches in our region,” said Darren Kettle, executive director of VCTC. “I know our customers can’t wait to enjoy the quiet, comfortable ride and know they are helping address climate change by commuting on a battery-powered bus.”
Funded by Measure A, both the Clean Air Express and Coastal Express improve commuters’ quality of life and eliminate over 20 million Vehicle Miles Traveled annually.