Reimagine Metro


Reimagine Metro

Waves of change are coming! Santa Cruz METRO is reimagining bus routes and frequencies to better meet our community's needs. Our goals are to:

  • Increase the amount of transit service
  • Make transit more useful and attractive for many people’s trips
  • Make transit more relevant to the community’s needs

The first wave of Reimagine METRO service changes was implemented in December 2023. More service will be added in March 2024. And big changes are planned for the second wave arriving by September 2024.


Here is a brief overview of where we are and where we are headed.



Phase 1 – METRO’s Existing Service as of March 2024

December 2023 Improvements

METRO’s services were improved in late 2023, including:

  • Higher frequency at UCSC. In September 2023, METRO introduced service every 15 minutes on Routes 18 and 19.
  • Simpler and more direct service between Santa Cruz and Watsonville. Routes 1 and 2 now offer faster service from Watsonville to Santa Cruz, by both taking Highway 1 between Watsonville and Aptos. Route 90X provides added express service at peak hours.
  • Simpler and more frequent service in Watsonville. Most Watsonville residents now live near a route that runs at least every 30 minutes on weekdays.
  • East-west service in Santa Cruz. The introduction of Route 3 piloted a direct service between UCSC, Downtown Santa Cruz, and Live Oak. METRO will suspend the direct service in June 2024 until a layover facility is constructed at UCSC, which will allow buses to maintain better on time performance.
  • More direct service between the San Lorenzo Valley and Santa Cruz. All trips on Route 35 now head directly to Downtown Santa Cruz. Emeline St is served by Route 4.


March 2024 Improvements

METRO will complete Phase 1 of Reimagine METRO in March with:

  • More evening service. Routes 2, 3B and 73 will provide service until midnight.
  • More express service. Route 90X will operate 6 morning trips and 6 evening trips, in both directions.
  • New Route 78. New all-day service on West Beach Street, Ohlone Parkway, and to the new County Social Service offices at Westridge. This route will also serve Watsonville Community Hospital and Freedom Centre.


Click here to see the system map as of March 2024.



Ride the NEXT Wave: Summer 2024 Improvements

The Waves of Change Are Bringing You More Buses & More Frequency


Changes coming to METRO on June 20, 2024:

  • The Wave Hits Route 1 every 15-minutes from 6AM - 9PM and will now serve Soquel Ave. instead of Water St. View the Route 1 June 2024 Map.
  • Routes 18 & 19 continue to provide service every 15-minutes
  • Hwy-17 Express will now operate every 30-minutes during peak periods
  • Route 90X will now operate every 30-minutes on weekdays and hourly on weekends


View the June 2024 system map.

View the June 2024 North County Regional Map.

View the June 2024 Watsonville Regional Map.



Route Changes

Click here to see a larger version



Improvements Planned for September 2024


Changes coming to METRO on September 14, 2024:

  • The Wave Hits Route 3 every 15-minutes from 6AM - 9PM. Route 3 will be reconnected to the UCSC campus if and when UCSC constructs a layover facility on the campus to maintain the route’s on time performance and reliability.
  • Route 16 will be reintroduced, providing service every 30 minutes from downtown Santa Cruz to UCSC via Laurel and Bay.
    • Hwy-17 Express will operate every 30-minutes all day, seven days a week.
  • Increased weekend service on Route 35 that matches weekday service levels.



Major Service Increases



Santa Cruz METRO intends to increase service by over 50 percent through the Reimagine METRO service restoration and expansion plan, thanks to new funding and intensified operator recruitment. This will make it possible to improve frequencies and increase service in many places. The Reimagine METRO Network includes:

  • Frequent service in east Santa Cruz, Live Oak, Soquel, Aptos and Watsonville.
  • Saturday and Sunday frequencies that match weekdays on most routes, including Routes 1, 2, 3, 17, 20, 35, 75.
  • All-day express service between Watsonville and Santa Cruz on Route 90X, every 30 minutes on weekdays and every 60 minutes on weekends.
  • More consistent service on Highway 17. More service from Santa Cruz to San Jose, every 30 minutes, every day.


View Phase 2 Report



Benefits of METRO’s Fast, More Frequent and Reliable Service

METRO’s reimagined bus system with WAVE SERVICE will double ridership to more than 7 million rides per year. This equates to a VMT reduction of 9,852,903 miles per year and a CO2 emission reduction of 40,068 metric tons per year. Meaning less congestion and emissions in Santa Cruz County. That’s transformational.


METRO with the new WAVE SERVICE brings livable transportation alternatives to residents—no matter what age, income or race. Equitable and easy to use transportation options for everyone, including freedom of travel to education, job access, health care. All signs of a healthy community. Finally, but certainly not least, METRO with WAVE SERVICE brings opportunities to better align housing opportunity with quality transportation, which will bring enhanced State and federal funding opportunities.



Project Timeline

    • March 2023 (Complete): Phase 1 Public Outreach and Existing Conditions
    • May 2023 (Complete): Early Wins defined
    • July 2023 (Complete): Alternatives Report
    • July-August (Complete): Phase 1 Public Outreach:
    • September 22 (Complete): Public Hearing Meeting
    • December 2023: Phase 1 Reimagine METRO begins with Winter Service Schedule
    • February 2024(Complete) Public Review and Feedback on Phase 2 Plan
    • March 2024 (Review in Process): Additional Phase 1 changes
    • June 2024: Additional service increases will be implemented in METRO’s summer schedule starting June 20, 2024
    • September 2024: Implementation of Phase 2 changes, based on public feedback on the Phase 2 Plan