Santa Cruz Transit Looks to Expand

A small transit agency in Northern California is making ambitious expansion plans.

2 minute read

October 4, 2023, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Aerial view of coastal town of Santa Cruz, California.

Dreamframer / Adobe Stock

In a post on his blog, Human Transit, Jarrett Walker praises the expanding transit service in Santa Cruz County, California, a coastal area just south of the San Francisco Bay Area.

“Like many US agencies, Santa Cruz Metro had to make cuts during the pandemic to match the service to their shortage of bus drivers. In the last year, though, the pace of hiring has picked up, and the agency can do its first substantial expansion.” As Walker notes, his consultancy was asked to advise Santa Cruz Metro on its expansion plan, which the agency adopted last week.

According to Walker, “Phase 1, now scheduled for implementation this December, will change the network completely.” Unlike the current system, which has no service more frequent than every 30 minutes, the upgraded system will increase both frequencies and improve the timing of connections.

“It’s an especially big change in Watsonville, whose confusing tangle of overlapping hourly routes was especially useless for most trips.  There, service is restructured to put a majority of the population and jobs near half-hourly service, mostly on lines that run through to the other cities to the west.”

The system will restore 15-minute headways on the lines that connect downtown Santa Cruz to the University of California campus. The agency will also simplify and combine certain routes. “Meanwhile, this is just the first phase of a more ambitious expansion that will be discussed with the public soon in hopes of further frequency expansions in 2024.”

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