Most ground travel in Santa Barbara County is north or south, with the occasional crossover on an east-west state route. U.S. 101, the sole federal highway, is supplemented by nine state routes including state Route 1, the storied Pacific Coast Highway. Pacific Ocean surf forms the county’s western boundary, and much of the east is roadless, devoted to protected forest, mountains and wilderness. Backcountry around Vandenberg Air Force Base, along the coast northwest of Lompoc, is off-limits to development and the public as well, and offers refuge to endangered coastal species.
Los Angeles International Airport, 92 miles away, is the closest mega-air connection, but both Santa Maria and Santa Barbara have airports served by commercial flights, and Lompoc and Santa Ynez airports accommodate private planes. Central Coast Shuttle provides services to and from Santa Maria, Buellton, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Airport and Ventura to Los Angeles International Airport. Visit Central Coast Shuttle at www.centralcoastshuttle.com or call 800-470-8818.
Amtrak has two busy full stations, one in Goleta and another in Santa Barbara, and the Pacific Surfliner makes a dozen daily trips between nearby San Luis Obispo and San Diego. Special racks on the train bristle with passengers’ bikes and surfboards.
Santa Barbara County is served by Greyhound Lines, with stations in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, and by several metropolitan transit districts.
Santa Barbara Airport
500 Fowler Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93117
Santa Barbara Airport is west of Santa Barbara proper, in Goleta, and state Route 217 emerges there from U.S. 101. The Spanish-style terminal with its red tile roof, dark wood beams and old mission garden of fragrant jasmine and bougainvillea is served by Alaska, American and United airlines.
Six car-rental agencies have offices at the airport, and ground transportation includes taxis, two door-to-door shuttle companies and Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District public buses. A bus stop is directly across Moffett Street from the terminal’s south lobby, where bus schedules can be obtained or accessed at www.sbmtd.gov.
Santa Maria Public Airport
3249 Terminal Drive
Santa Maria, CA 93455
Santa Maria Public Airport, 3 miles south of the city of Santa Maria off U.S. 101, is a general aviation airport served by two commercial airlines, Mokulele Airlines (which connects to LAX) and Allegiant Air (which connects travelers to Las Vegas). It is home base for more than 200 general aviation aircraft, parking is free, and there’s a hotel for travelers.
Travelers can choose from four car-rental companies as well as a shuttle, taxicab and limo services, the Breeze Bus for terminal pickups and drop-offs, and bus transportation by way of Santa Maria Area Transit Route 8.
209 State St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
25 S. La Patera Lane
Goleta, CA 93117
Amtrak has seven other connections in Santa Barbara County in addition to its full stations in Santa Barbara and Goleta: Carpinteria and Surf (platform); Solvang, Buellton, Lompoc and Santa Maria (bus pickup); and Guadalupe (unstaffed station).
Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District
1020 Chapala St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District serves the south part of the county from its hub in downtown Santa Barbara where staffers can help riders plan their routes.
Other Santa Barbara Transit Options
Late-evening service between Isla Vista and Santa Barbara: “I drank, Bill drove.”
Clean Air Express
Service is available for residents of Santa Barbara County commuting between Santa Barbara and Lompoc.
Easy Lift is a nonprofit organization that offers paratransit service for those whose disabilities prevent their use of fixed-route public transportation.
Santa Barbara Airbus
Santa Barbara Airbus makes stops 16 trips daily between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles International Airport.
SmartRide matches carpool and vanpool partners.
Vista Costal Express
Vista Costal Express offers transportation between Santa Barbara and Ventura.
City of Lompoc Transit
COLT provides public transportation within Lompoc, Mission Hills and Vandenberg Village from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Fixed-route service and on-call paratransit service for the disabled are available. There is no COLT service on Sunday or legal holidays.
Special COLT routes include the Wine Country Express, a circuit through Lompoc, Buellton and Solvang three times each day; round-trip rides to Santa Barbara every Tuesday and Thursday; and nightly student service from Hancock College to students’ homes.
Santa Maria Area Transit
City of Santa Maria buses carry passengers along more than a dozen routes within the city and the county. On-call paratransit service for the disabled also is available. The Santa Maria Breeze Bus provides weekday transportation between Santa Maria, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Lompoc, Los Alamos, Buellton and Solvang.
Santa Ynez Valley Transit
The Santa Ynez Valley Transit system is a combined effort by Buellton, Solvang and the county of Santa Barbara that links Ballard, Buellton, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang via 10 routes. Dial-a-Ride service is available on Sunday.