The Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District (“METRO”) board of directors will meet Friday, April 12 to decide on weekend bus service to Big Basin Redwoods State Park and Waddell Beach in Santa Cruz County.
The board will consider a staff recommendation to add two Saturday and Sunday trips to Big Basin State Park via the existing Route 35 through Scotts Valley and the the San Lorenzo Valley. An additional trip for Route 40 up the coast on Highway 1 to Waddell Beach will also be restored pending board approval. The popular SKyline to the Sea hiking trails from Big Basin Headquarters near the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains follows Waddell Creek down to a trailhead at Waddell Beach just south of Ano Nuevo State Reserve.
Santa Cruz METRO first began service to Big Basin in 1978. The agency eliminated this and other routes in 2011 because of budget constraints forced by reduced revenue from the county’s 1/2 cent sales tax for transit and declining ridership due to high unemployment in Santa Cruz County. Significantly higher ridership and spending within the county has improved the transit district’s finances.
Several individuals and organizations wrote letters of support to the METRO board to encourage them to vote in favor of bus service to Big Basin and Waddell Creek. The Santa Cruz County Group of the Ventana Chapter of the Sierra Club notes that the vast majority of the 600,000 visitors to Big Basin arrive by private automobile. “In the absence of bus shuttles,” writes Transportation Committee chair Greg McPheeters, “the only way to complete the many ‘Skyline to the Sea’ hikes within the park is with shuttles using private automobiles, which is highly impractical.
“The bus service provides a tremendous opportunity for residents and tourists alike to take a bus to the park headquarters, hike out to Waddell Beach, and then catch a bus back to town.
“Reducing private automobile trips into the park is a great way to reduce the environmental impact of these activities, and bus service makes the trip accessible to a wider demographic.”
The Mountain Parks Foundation of Santa Cruz County notes other benefits of the bus ride to Big Basin in their letter of support. “The bus ride itself, traveling from coastal Santa Cruz up through Scotts Valley and its rare Sand hills habitat, through the San Lorenzo Valley and finally into the majestic redwood forest of Big Basin forms an educational and relaxing experience for riders,” writes Mountain Parks director Brenda Holmes.
The San Lorenzo Valley Women’s Club supports the extended service to Big Basin too, noting the popularity of Route 35 for San Lorenzo Valley residents. Route 35 to Big Basin was frequently filled with hikers and daytrippers during the summer months.
The 18,000 acre Big Basin Redwoods State Park is California’s oldest state park and home to the largest continuous stand of ancient Coast Redwoods south of San Francisco. The park contains 10,800 acres of old-growth forest as well as recovering redwood forest, with mixed conifer, oaks, chaparral and riparian habitats. Elevations in the park vary from sea level to over 2,000 ft.
The board meets 8 AM Friday, April 12 at the METRO Administrative Offices at 110 Vernon Street, Santa Cruz, CA. Speakers are given 3 minutes to address the board on any issue. The Board will discuss and decide on a number of issues at this meeting. The changes for Routes 35 and 40 are proposed for the summer bid beginning on June 6, 2013.
If you can’t be there in person, Peter Scott from the Campaign for Sensible Transportation will present this online petition to the Santa Cruz board on your behalf. Show up to the meeting if you can, and please sign the petition if you would like to see bus service return to Big Basin and Waddell Beach.
Redwood Cathedral and Waddell Beach Kite Surfing photos by Richard Masoner. Bus 35A Big Basin photo taken from Sensible Transportation.