Santa Cruz Metro set to launch Watsonville Circulator Route

Sept. 14, 2021
The new circulator service begins Sept. 16 and will feature zero-emission buses and free fares to encourage ridership.

Santa Cruz Metro held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week for its new Watsonville Circulator Route, which provides more frequent service with an end goal of increasing local transit ridership. The circulator will begin service Sept. 16 and provide 16 daily round trips, seven days a week.

Santa Cruz Metro will use zero-emission buses to operate the new circulator route. Proterra supplied the buses and funds were provided from the California Department of Transportation’s Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP).

An additional $489,213 LCTOP grant made the launch of the circulator’s 12-month pilot program possible. Santa Cruz Metro says these funds will be used to deploy two new battery-electric buses, fund three bus operators for 12 months and offer free fares to encourage ridership.

“The new Watsonville Circulator Route is designed to increase the number of transit passengers locally by providing more frequent service to desirable destinations in Watsonville between noon and 7:45 p.m. daily,” said Santa Cruz Metro’s CEO and General Manager Alex Clifford. “The project will not only reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fueled buses, but it will serve one of the lowest income communities in Metro’s service area.”

The route will connect the downtown transit center with primary retail and medical destinations in Watsonville and connect commuters with existing local and intercity bus lines.

Santa Cruz Metro says the new service will become a critical link for the community, with service benefits including:

  • Improved public health by removing cars off the road and providing passengers with a competitive alternative that will help reduce pollution from single-occupant vehicles.
  • Creation of a more sustainable transportation system that reduces vehicles mile traveled, greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion.
  • Development of a more integrated and active transportation system that serves the community’s vulnerable populations.

Santa Cruz Metro explains the Watsonville Circulator Route will expand transit service to new residential and commercial areas in Watsonville. This important step will accelerate the use of advanced technologies in heavy-duty vehicles to meet air quality, climate and health goals.

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