March/April 2023 - 32

Santa Cruz Metro
" We put in place a $4,000 hiring
bonus, which has been very
popular, " Tree noted. " We also
put in place a referral incentive
program, so if a Santa Cruz Metro
employee refers someone who
then becomes a bus driver at Santa
Cruz Metro, the employee is given
a $2,000 incentive. "
Tree explained how the agency
has adapted its hiring process over
the past couple of years.
" It used to be that potential apA
young boy
paying for fare
while boarding
a Santa Cruz
Metro bus.
Santa Cruz Metro
90 percent of its ridership. Currently,
the agency has approximately
3.5 million riders annually,
which is nearly 75 percent of
its pre-pandemic ridership level.
Tree aims to have the agency double
in ridership within the next
five years.
The agency's Reimagine Metro
survey allowed Santa Cruz County
residents to provide feedback
to the Santa Cruz Metro Board
of Directors on what they would
like to see offered on Santa Cruz
Metro to get them to ride. Tree
said it was clear from the survey
the public wanted an easier to use
and a faster, more reliable service.
Santa Cruz Metro ridership
includes commuters and students
and the agency has implemented
several measures to help increase
ridership in the post-pandemic era,
including the One Ride at a Time
campaign, which aims to showcase
the environmental benefits
of transit, encourage bus ridership
and protect Santa Cruz County's
natural resources, and Youth Cruz
Free, a pilot program that launched
March 1 that allows students to use
their student ID cards as a transit
pass, in order to increase access
and encourage ridership for youth
through the end of high school.
32 Mass Transit | MARCH/APRIL 2023
Kalantari-Johnson said the
Youth Cruz Free pilot program
will be key to boosting ridership.
" I personally met with some
youth groups last fall, and they
said they would ride the bus, but
they had two issues: Frequency
and money, so this pilot program
is so critical because if we shift the
behaviors and thought processes
of young people, then we shift the
cultural norm around buses. You
get young people to ride buses,
then the rest of us are going to
be more inclined to ride the bus. "
Tree notes approximately 10
percent of Santa Cruz Metro
riders are under the age of 18,
despite making up nearly 20 percent
of the population of Santa
Cruz County.
" We want to give youth freedom
with moving around the region,
and this is a great start for a
population that loves Santa Cruz
Metro, " Tree said.
Operator shortage
Santa Cruz Metro lost approximately
20 percent of its bus operators
at the start of the pandemic,
and has struggled to fill that void
as ridership has begun to return,
but it hasn't been for lack of trying,
according to Tree.
plicants would wait a month or two
until the next hiring cycle came
up, " Tree said. " Now, if applicants
apply, within a week, they receive a
call back and are being interviewed
and brought on board almost immediately.
Applicants are immediately
able to give two weeks' notice
to their current employer. If they're
unemployed and get on board Santa
Cruz Metro, we will take them
through a customer service academy
while they're waiting for the
next entrance into their training. "
Santa Cruz Metro works with
various community groups to better
serve the community through
services. The agency most recently
in March distributed 200 free passes
to riders, as well as 72 additional
passes to community organizations
affected by flooding at the
Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds.
In 2021, Lani Faulkner founded
Equity Transit, a social welfare organization
that advocates for a robust
and affordable transit system,
a clean environment, affordable
housing, safe walkable streets and
opportunity access throughout
Santa Cruz County. Equity Transit
is one of many community organizations
that is partnering with
Santa Cruz Metro to support environmentally
smart public transit,
safe streets and walkable cities.
Faulkner said the pandemic
showed leaders how critical the
services are to daily life.
" What the pandemic made
aware to so many of us who work
in transportation is we lost paratransit
workers and people who
could drive the buses, and that was

March/April 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of March/April 2023

Editor’s Notebook
People & Places
Why Zero-Emissions Fleet Transformation Starts at the Top
A Look at U.S. Bus Fleets
Have We Outgrown Paratransit?
Santa Cruz Metro Bounces Back from COVID-19 Pandemic
Ready for Rail: A Look at 2023’s Big Projects
March/April 2023 - 1
March/April 2023 - 2
March/April 2023 - 3
March/April 2023 - 4
March/April 2023 - 5
March/April 2023 - Editor’s Notebook
March/April 2023 - 7
March/April 2023 - People & Places
March/April 2023 - 9
March/April 2023 - 10
March/April 2023 - 11
March/April 2023 - 12
March/April 2023 - 13
March/April 2023 - 14
March/April 2023 - 15
March/April 2023 - Why Zero-Emissions Fleet Transformation Starts at the Top
March/April 2023 - 17
March/April 2023 - 18
March/April 2023 - 19
March/April 2023 - A Look at U.S. Bus Fleets
March/April 2023 - 21
March/April 2023 - 22
March/April 2023 - 23
March/April 2023 - 24
March/April 2023 - 25
March/April 2023 - Have We Outgrown Paratransit?
March/April 2023 - 27
March/April 2023 - 28
March/April 2023 - 29
March/April 2023 - Santa Cruz Metro Bounces Back from COVID-19 Pandemic
March/April 2023 - 31
March/April 2023 - 32
March/April 2023 - 33
March/April 2023 - 34
March/April 2023 - 35
March/April 2023 - Ready for Rail: A Look at 2023’s Big Projects
March/April 2023 - 37
March/April 2023 - 38
March/April 2023 - 39
March/April 2023 - Products
March/April 2023 - 41
March/April 2023 - 42
March/April 2023 - 43
March/April 2023 - 44