In response to standing-room only crowds on the popular Highway 17 commuter bus service between Santa Cruz and San Jose, the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District (“METRO”) announced a significant expansion with 11 new weekday runs and an additional run on the weekends.
Beginning Thursday, March 14,
2014 2013, six new northbound trips from Santa Cruz to San Jose have been added to the weekday schedule, along with five new southbound trips from San Jose to Santa Cruz. On Saturday and Sunday, a single southbound trip has been added, departing San Jose Diridon Station at 10:55 PM.
The new northbound trips all depart from the downtown Santa Cruz Metro Center at 5:05 AM, 6:50 AM, 8:30 AM, 2:25 PM, 3:00 PM, and 8:15 PM. All new northbound trips stop at the Cavallaro Transit Center in Scotts Valley 15 minutes after leaving the Metro Center.
The new southbound trips depart San Fernando and 7th near San Jose State University at 5:00 PM, 6:35 PM, 7:15 PM, 8:05 PM and 9:50 PM. All southbound buses stop through San Jose Diridon Station before traveling to Scotts Valley, the Pasatiempo Park and Ride, and downtown Santa Cruz.
Regular riders should check the new Headways for other schedules adjustments; several buses begin their routes five to ten minutes earlier or later in order to better match the current Caltrain schedule.
Santa Cruz METRO operates the Highway 17 Express bus service under a Joint Powers Agreement with Santa Clara Valley Transportation Agency (VTA), California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Amtrak, and the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA). Bus service began as an emergency service between Scotts Valley and Santa Clara when landslides closed Highway 17 during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. When seven-day service began in 2004, 7,000 riders rode the Highway 17 bus each day. Today, the service provides a ride “over the hill” and back for well over 30,000 riders each month.
One way cash fare is $5 on Highway 17, with half price fare for eligible disabled and elderly passengers. A $10 day pass is also good for all Santa Cruz METRO buses and VTA local (i.e. not Express with premium fares) buses. Drivers cannot make change, so bring exact cash fare.
The Highway 17 31 Day Pass is $113 and can be purchased from the Metro Center, Walgreens on Soquel Ave, Cafe Amigo at the Scotts Valley transit center, and other vendors throughout Santa Cruz County. San Jose State University students can purchase a 31 Day Pass at a discount.
All Santa Cruz buses are equipped with racks for 3 bicycles. Although the increased bus service should diminish the number of bumps for a while, be aware that several commute-time buses almost always have a full load of bikes on board.
To view the Highway 17 Express route map and new schedule effective March 14, click here. METRO also announced additional buses for Routes 69W (Capitola / Cabrillo / Watsonville) and 91X (Watsonville Express)