It is easy to get around Santa Cruz by Bus
The Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transportation District (Santa Cruz Metro) provides public bus service to Santa Cruz County. Riding the bus is a great way to save money and reclaim your commute time for other purposes (reading, napping, etc.)
Santa Cruz Metro operates 34 service routes in Santa Cruz County, and has four transit centers that serve as hubs for the system.
Riding the Bus in Santa Cruz County
Possible destinations with Santa Cruz Metro are endless as many transit services are overlapping and interconnected. Getting to the Bay Area, out to the Central Valley or down to Southern California can also be done via public transit. This section will provide some basic itineraries to get you where you need to go, but remember these are only a few of many possible trips that are available.
Santa Cruz Metro recently modified their fixed-route bus service to reduce service by 10%, effective September 8th. Visit Metro News Bulletin for the latest route and schedule info.
Santa Cruz Hot Spots by Bus
Santa Cruz Metro’s route 3 will take you to one of Santa Cruz’s best kept treasures: Natural Bridges State Park. Route 3 begins running at 6:50 am and makes its last run at 5:50 pm.
For a scenic trip to the world famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk or a seafood dinner on the Santa Cruz Wharf, take Santa Cruz Metro route 3 or 19 from the downtown Metro Center. Both the Wharf and Boardwalk are about a 15 minute walk from Pacific Station.
For a trip to Capitola’s picturesque wharf and seaside shopping area, simply hop on Route 66 at the Santa Cruz Metro Center. Then transfer to Route 55 at the Capitola Mall.
Gain easy access to this 800 acre freshwater wetland and great birding location by taking Santa Cruz Metro’s route 71 bus. Four miles of paved trails and 29 trail entrances in Watsonville neighborhoods offer opportunities to jog, walk or bicycle.
A great weekend adventure is the Skyline to the Sea Trail to Waddell Beach. Take Santa Cruz Metro route 35A to Big Basin State Park arriving at park headquarters at 9:45am. Santa Cruz Metro’s Route 40 bus departs Waddell Beach for the return trip to Santa Cruz at 5:15pm on weekends.
Check Santa Cruz Metro’s website for current schedules and route details: http://www.scmtd.com
To the Bay Area
Board Bay Area and Central Valley bound transit trips on the Highway 17 Express at either the Downtown Santa Cruz Metro Center or the Scotts Valley Transit Center. Some trips during peak morning and afternoon commute hours also start from and return passengers to the Soquel Park and Ride lot (Paul Sweet Road and Soquel Drive.)
From the Metro Center in Downtown Santa Cruz, board the Highway 17 Express. The fare is $7.00 each way or $14.00 for a day pass. The 17 Express will take you to the Diridon Train Station in Downtown San Jose. The Valley Transit Authority (VTA) is the public transportation provider in San Jose. The VTA provide rides throughout the San Jose area. www.vta.org
From the Metro Center in Downtown Santa Cruz, board the Highway 17 Express. The fare is $7.00 each way or $14.00 for a day pass. The 17 Express will take you to the Diridon Train Station in Downtown San Jose. While at Diridon Station, board Caltrain to San Francisco 4th&King Station for $7.50 each way. San Francisco MUNI is the public transportation provider in the San Francisco Area. MUNI can provide rides throughout San Francisco.
From the Metro Center in Downtown Santa Cruz, board the Highway 17 Express.The fare is $7.00 each way or $14.00 for a day pass. The 17 Express will take you to the Diridon Train Station in Downtown San Jose. At Diridon Station board the VTA Route 180 or 181 to the Fremont BART Station. The VTA Fare is $3.50 each way. If your destination is Fremont, then your last stop should be at the BART station. If you are traveling to Oakland, use BART to get you here.
Note: As of January 1, 2016 Valley Transit Authority (VTA) no longer issues paper Day Passes. All VTA Passes will be on a Clipper Card. Due to this change and METRO’s inability to read Clipper, METRO will no longer be able to provide upgrades with VTA passes on Highway 17 Express. Full fare will be required by all passengers on Hwy 17 routes. There are no changes to METRO’s HWY 17 Day Pass arrangement with VTA. HWY 17 Day Passes will still be valid on VTA buses. More information available at SCMTD.
To the Central Valley
The Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) provides service to the sub-urban cities that resided to the east of the Bay Area. The Ace Train has stops in San Jose, Santa Clara, Fremont, Pleasanton, Livermore, Tracy, Lathrop, and Stockton. For Information on fares and schedules go here to the ACE website. To get to the Ace Train: From Santa Cruz, board the Highway 17 Express. The fare is $7.00 each way or $14.00 for a day pass. The 17 Express will take you to the Diridon Train Station in Downtown San Jose. The ACE Train departs from Diridon Station four (4) times a day, click here for the schedule. The ACE Train conductor will be posted at the entrance to the train track 15 minutes before the train departs. Tell him or her where you would like to go and pay your fare (cash only). The conductor will also tell you which track the train is departing from, go to that track and board the train.
From the Metro Center in Downtown Santa Cruz, board the Highway 17 Express. The fare is $7.00 each way or $14.00 for a day pass. The 17 Express will take you to the Diridon Train Station in Downtown San Jose. At the Diridon station, purchase tickets for the Amtrak Capitol Corridor at the ticket desk for $26.00 inside the Diridon station. The ticket agent will tell you when and what track the train is departing. Board the train when appropriate to do so. Exit in Sacramento; the Sacramento Regional Transit (Sacramento RT) is the public transportation provider in Sacramento.
To the Monterey Bay
Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) provides customers with easy and convenient connections to a variety of bus and rail lines for travel outside of Monterey County. MST provides direct service from Monterey to Santa Cruz on Line 78. Connections between MST and METRO are also made at the Watsonville Transit Center (475 Rodriguez Street, Watsonville). MST’s Line 27 Watsonville-Marina, Line 28 Salinas-Watsonville via Castroville, and Line 29 Salinas-Watsonville via Prunedale all end at the Watsonville Transit Center. Here, you can transfer to local buses serving Watsonville as well as regional buses to take you points west into Downtown Santa Cruz. Transfer here to other METRO bus lines to visit the mountains, beaches and redwood forests of Santa Cruz County.
Monterey-Salinas Transit Bus #78 runs directly between Monterey and Santa Cruz twice per day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Check the schedule for details.
Monterey-Salinas Transit Bus #27 makes seven trips each weekday (every two hours) between Marina and Watsonville. Check the schedule for details.
Greyhound: Greyhound provides service to various locations throughout the Bay Area including San Francisco, Hayward, and Oakland from their Santa Cruz station, located within the Santa Cruz Metro Center. They also have a few buses a day to Monterey as well as service to Southern California and the Central Valley. www.greyhound.com. 831-423-1800
Bikes on Buses
- Bikes racks holding three bikes each are mounted on the front of Santa Cruz Metro buses for the use of bus riders
- Bus riders must place their bikes and remove them from the racks without the assistance of the bus driver
- Consult Metro’s Bikes and Buses brochure or contact Santa Cruz Metro at 425-8600
- Bay Area Bike Share has more than a dozen stations in Downtown San Jose where you can pick up or drop off a bike. Join for 24 hours, 3 days or by the year at any station kiosk.