SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Governor Jerry Brown may very well have the future votes of students at UCSB and Santa Barbara City College; he's making sure they can catch their M-T-D bus, and if they miss it, another one should be on the way.
The governor proposed legislation Wednesday, aimed at ending a fight between the state and federal government over $1.6 billion dollars in transportation grants.
Federal pension reform changes put those funds at risk.
Under the governor's plan, those federal funds will continue to flow to transit districts throughout California while the governor pursues litigation to defend California's bipartisan pension reforms.
Locally, the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (SBMTD) was as risk of losing 30 percent of the funds needed to keep M-T-D buses rolling on their regular schedules, and would have been forced to cut buses and entire routes, including at least five buses that serve UCSB and Santa Barbara City College.
Weekend service and a seaside shuttle in Carpinteria were also on the chopping block.
People we spoke with, including many college students, said they need more buses, not fewer.
Others spoke up at public forums, complaining that without bus service, they had no way to get to their jobs at local hotels and restaurants.
Locally, $4.6 million dollars in federal operating funds would be freed up for the 2012-2013 budget year, under the governor's plan.
Meanwhile, according to the governor's office, the state would fight for the pension reform law in court.