Reimagining METRO

Santa Cruz is home to ambitions transit transformation.

By SC Vibes Staff
March 26, 2024
A row of Santa Cruz METRO buses with the One Ride At A Time campaign wraps including various nature photographs

Waves of change have arrived! Santa Cruz METRO has embarked on a transformative journey, reshaping its bus routes and frequencies to enhance public transportation in the community. This initiative, aimed at increasing service coverage, improving transit reliability, and accommodating post-COVID travel patterns, began in December 2023.

The initial changes, which included expanded service coverage, increased frequency in high-demand areas, and more direct routes in Watsonville, were well received and addressed community feedback.
Key improvements introduced in December 2023 included free fares countywide for the first two weeks, facilitating riders’ transition to the new network. Additionally, free transfers were offered for two hours on all routes, including Highway 17.

Specific enhancements included increased frequency between Watsonville and Santa Cruz, a new route serving the County’s Health and Human Services facility in Watsonville, and continued 15-minute service on Routes 18 and 19. An express route between Watsonville and Santa Cruz during peak commute times and a new route connecting UC Santa Cruz campus to Live Oak and Capitola Mall were also notable additions.

Looking ahead, the METRO Board of Directors will consider additional changes slated to begin in June 2024. These include increased frequency on three cross-county corridors, extension of service from Santa Cruz to UCSC campus, a new route connecting Watsonville to Cabrillo College, and all-day service on a Watsonville to Santa Cruz express route.

With the WAVE SERVICE initiative, METRO aims to double ridership to over 7 million rides per year, leading to significant reductions in vehicle miles traveled and CO2 emissions, contributing to a healthier community.

As the community celebrates the success of METRO’s transformation, residents are encouraged to stay engaged by providing feedback, participating in surveys, and staying informed about ongoing developments. This reimagined transit system is shaping a more efficient, sustainable, and vibrant public transportation experience for all Santa Cruz residents.