METRO launches new grant-funded Watsonville route with electric buses and free fares for one year
Santa Cruz METRO announced that it has received a grant of $ 489,213 from the California Department of Transportation’s Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP) to launch a new “circulator” route, offering loop services, which exclusively serves stops in Watsonville.
The service will provide 16 daily round trips, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. The route will be operated using zero emission buses purchased in previous LCTOP cycles.
What does LCTOP funding mean for Santa Cruz County?
LCTOP funding is intended for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve transportation for disadvantaged and low-income communities.
METRO will use grant funds to deploy two new battery-powered electric buses in downtown Watsonville and offer free fares to the public to encourage ridership and promote transit through a pilot program of a year. The grant will be used to fund three bus operators for 12 months, providing regular service to community members.
“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 pm daily,” said the CEO and General Manager of METRO, Alex Clifford.
The project will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fueled buses, but it will serve one of the lowest income communities in METRO’s service area.
– Alex Clifford, CEO and Managing Director of METRO
The route will connect the downtown transit hub to major business and medical destinations in Watsonville. It will operate in a clockwise loop and a counterclockwise loop from the Watsonville Transit Center, serving:
- Main Street
- Green valley road
- Freedom center
- Liberty Boulevard,
- and Lincoln Street, connecting commuters to existing local and intercity bus lines 69A, 69W, 71, 72 / 72W, 74S, 75, 79 and 91X.
Envisaged to become a vital link to our community, the benefits of the service include:
- Improving public health by taking cars off the road and providing passengers with a competitive alternative that will help reduce pollution from single occupant vehicles.
- Creating a more sustainable transportation system that reduces vehicle kilometers, greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion.
- Development of a more integrated and active transport system that serves vulnerable populations in the community.
METRO is committed to improving the mobility of disadvantaged communities and reducing its environmental footprint by switching to zero-emission buses.
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 vehicles to achieve air quality, climate and health objectives.
Take part in the ribbon cutting event!
Parking at the event is limited. Below are carpooling options and an alternate parking location near the Watsonville transit hub.
Alternative parking near Watsonville transit hub:
Civic Plaza Parking Garage, 275 Main Street, Watsonville, CA 95076. Link to the map here.
Parking is free for the first two hours. A METRO ParaCruz vehicle will transport participants to and from the event continuously from 10:30 am. Please meet the vehicle on the 2nd street side of the parking garage building at the METRO bus stop, located near the garage elevator near the metro.
About the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District
Established in 1968, Santa Cruz METRO provides fixed-route and Highway 17 commuter service throughout Santa Cruz County, with limited service connecting Monterey Salinas Transit to our transit hub in Watsonville and Santa County. Clara, carrying more than 5 million passenger trips per year.
METRO also operates the ParaCruz paratransit service to Santa Cruz County, providing approximately 73,500 trips per year. METRO’s operating budget in FY21 is nearly $ 55 million and is funded by a combination of revenue from tariffs, sales tax, and state and federal sources. Today it operates a fleet of 94 buses on at least 24 fixed routes. For more information, visit www.scmtd.com.