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Methods of Transportation in Isla Vista


Walking in Isla Vista provides an affordable option for community members to get around. Isla Vista is approximately a mile and a half in size, so walking around the community takes a short amount of time. Many main roads do have sidewalks so we encourage residents to always stay on sidewalks when possible. We acknowledge there are deficiencies in the sidewalk build-out on some important roads. When walking at night we recommend having a walking buddy and wearing reflective or bright clothing so cars and bicycles can see you. Due to its size, Isla Vista is a walking-friendly area. Located in the center of Isla Vista around the Embarcadero/Pardall Loop you can find local grocery shops and plenty of eateries. UCSB is also a relatively short walk away from anywhere in Isla Vista. 


Isla Vista, Goleta, and Santa Barbara offer bicycle-friendly climates with bike paths on many important streets and over 7 miles of bike paths on the UCSB campus area. Over 10,000 people commute daily from their homes to campus. Biking not only helps fight pollution and lowers CO2 emissions, but it helps you avoid traffic and save money on your commute. We recommend if you are a first-time biker in Isla Vista and UCSB to test out your routes beforehand. For your safety it is recommended to always wear a helmet, bike lights at night, have a strong U-lock, register your bike with CSOs, and get your bike regularly serviced. The AS bike shop offers a local free service to tune up your wheels as well as other paid services. You can download a copy of the Santa Barbara County bike map to help you get around or use the bike route feature on google maps.  For UCSB students there is a free pdf map of bike routes on campus. The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) also offers bike locker storage for those who live more than two miles from campus and use a bike to commute. You can bring your bike with you on Amtrak trains and SB MTD Buses.


Trains offer a convenient route for longer trips across California. Santa Barbara’s south coast is served by two Amtrak routes. The Pacific Surfliner winds along the Southern California coast between San Luis Obispo and San Diego, while the interstate Coast Starlight travels the distance from Seattle to Los Angeles.  You can find specific information regarding routes, fares, and services on Amtrak's website. The Amtrak train station closest to UCSB is the Goleta station (GTA), located at 25 S. La Patera Lane. The Santa Barbara station (SBA) is at 209 State Street. Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner® stops at the Goleta and Santa Barbara stations, while the Coast Starlight® stops only at the Santa Barbara station. The MTD bus service is available to take you to and from the train station. The exact route information can be found on their website.

Bus System 

The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) operates the local bus system in the region, serving Isla Vista, UCSB, Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland, and Carpinteria. UCSB and SBCC students may ride the MTD buses at no extra cost as long as they present a valid UCSB or SBCC student identification card. For those who do not qualify, riders can pay $1.75 cash onboard, or purchase MTD bus passes at the Transit Center in Downtown Santa Barbara or at the UCSB Bookstore. Recently, MTD added the ability to pay with a contactless payment card or device (like Apple Pay or Google Pay) onboard the Lines 12x (Goleta Express) and 24x (UCSB Express). The bus system is a great method of transportation that is readily accessible to everyone. You can easily reach many locations like downtown Santa Barbara and Camino Real Marketplace with the bus. You can even receive real-time updates on bus arrivals in Google Maps or by using their BusTracker app. All buses are wheelchair accessible with a floor that lowers to enter. Bike racks are also available for anyone who wishes to use both methods of transportation. For those who have a longer trip, the Clean Air Express bus offers routes to Buellton, Lompoc, and Santa Maria. Additionally, the Coastal Express offers bus routes to Oxnard and Ventura. 

Transportation Details and Services for Community Members with Disabilities:

The MTD bus system offers a reduced fare for people with qualifying disabilities. Call (805) 963-3366 to learn more. This particular request form was created to make it easier for passengers with disabilities to qualify for reduced fares on MTD buses. To learn more about this service, please visit the “Fares and Passes” section of the MTD website here

Additionally, Easy Lift Transportation Inc. is a non-profit organization that provides a variety of transportation services for children, youth, and adults with disabilities in South Santa Barbara County. You must be a registered passenger to enable their services. To read more about Easy Lift’s specific programs and services, please visit their website’s “Program and Services” tab here. Easy Lift Drivers encourage residents to complete the application, carefully read fare details, and schedule rides 1-3 weeks in advance, as these ride slots are quickly booked. To contact Easy Lift you can email or call, (805)-681-1181. 


Isla Vista is home to Lime and Bird electric scooters. These scooters can be found in various spots in Isla Vista such as the Loop, Pelican Park, Sea Lookout Park, Sueno Dog Park, and more. Use the apps to scan the scooters and they charge you the distance you use them. They can be used anywhere in the streets of Isla Vista, but are not permitted on sidewalks, parks, UCSB property, and biking trails. Scooters need to be put in corrals or on the side of the road and off the sidewalk. It is important for our community members to be allies to people who use wheelchairs and other mobility assistive devices by keeping the pathway clear.

Owning a Vehicle in Isla Vista

The majority of residents in Isla Vista choose alternative transportation to be more environmentally and budget-friendly as parking can also be very difficult and expensive. However, if you do need to use a car, we encourage residents to carpool with others to reduce their carbon emissions. Remember that you can’t leave your car in one street parking space for longer than 72 hours according to California law. Be a good neighbor and do not block any driveways, this is a fire hazard, along with parking on any red/yellow curbs. The Isla Vista Foot Patrol handles ticketing of parking violations. Make sure to always lock your car and never leave valuables unattended. 

A public parking lot is available near the heart of Isla Vista called Pardall Solar Parking lot at 881 Embarcadero del Mar. 

For Isla Vista residents commuting to UCSB you can purchase the 22 and 38 IVA permits to park on campus and even leave your car overnight. 

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