Testimonials from Bus Riders
If you would like to find out what it's like to ride a bus, click on any image below to read what that bus rider writes about his or her experience. To exit, click on the “×” at the upper right, or anywhere in the brown background. We would welcome your own story! Just write to us here.
In the four short videos below, Susan Cavalieri of Santa Cruz, Hannah Vanderlinden (a UCSC student), Curt Simmons (the owner of Plaza Lane Optometry in Santa Cruz) and Gina Cole (the Director of Bike Santa Cruz County) give their views. Click on the image for any video to start it. They're best viewed in the full screen mode.
I recently started taking the bus as often as possible. It satisfies my need for adventure and makes me feel I am “doing something” for the Earth. So I wrote this to let you know how it's going.
– Pegatha Hughes (Scotts Valley)
ODE TO THE BUS
How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways.
Through your enormous windows
I see more.
Your speed down Highway 17
Is way faster than I would go.
Your passengers are courteous
and stand so a grandma can sit down.
Most say “Thank you” when getting off.
I must walk to get you, and that's a plus.
I must wait to meet you and that is a lesson.
I have to awaken my brain to make your schedule
fit my life. You run on time.
I can set my (non-existent) watch by you.
Thy bus pass is inexpensive and always handy.
When, at the other end I have extra time,
I can be a flâneur wandering through stores.
You grant me the adventure of not knowing
Where to get off.
I can watch children and sleeping babies,
the bored, the tired, the homeless,
workers, students of all sorts.
Their faces inspire compassion.
By keeping my car fumes off the road
I feel better.
So sad to hear your deficit is huge
And we face big cuts in service. NO!!
When I lived in England, I learned to appreciate public transit. When I moved back to California and bought a house near downtown Santa Cruz, my husband and I realized we did not need buy a car at all. It's a different mind set, but once you become familiar with the schedules, and make sure you leave for the bus stop with time to spare, the rest is easy. I bought a Cruz Card that I top up at the Metro and wear around my neck, so I don't have to worry about having change -- just tap and go. Then I enjoy relaxing, reading, or just watching the scenery and people, striking up a conversation if I feel like it. I've ridden every bus route possible from the downtown station, and I've met some interesting folks along the way. It gets me out of my self-absorbed world. The bus drivers are fantastic with good people skills. If there's a problem, they know how to handle it. I feel safe and comfortable.
To encourage others make the transition, I founded Santa Cruz Bus-by-Choice. We advocate for public transit, and take a group trip once a month or so just for fun. To find out more, visit us on Facebook by clicking here, or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Dana Bagshaw (Santa Cruz)
It saddens me that Metro is in the position of having to reduce service, just at this time when more people should be driving less, and using public transit more. I myself stopped driving a fossil-fuel burning vehicle way back in 1993, as the ethical imperative to keep a small carbon footprint was clear to me even then. For more than 22 years I have relied on Metro, VTA, BART, Caltrain, and public transportation in many other cities, for all the travel I can't accomplish on foot or by bicycle. I travel quite a lot. I ride Metro nearly every day, several times a day. And I do this not because I'm poor, though for many poor people, Metro is a lifeline. The routes I use most are 69, 66, 71, 16, 10 - and Highway 17 Express, of course.
– James Weller (Capitola)
I've taken the bus since I arrived here in 1978. For many years I could not drive, so the bus was mostly how I got around, other than rides from friends and lovers and walking. Now I drive and last year I started driving most of the time. Pretty soon I realized just how expensive it was to drive and how little reading I was getting done. I also missed seeing friends on the bus and just slowing down and being easier on my body. Plus I found I was walking less and less and then needed to drive to the gym to exercise. I do love my spin classes but there is something perverse about driving to the gym to pump an electrically powered machine. So after some gentle inspiration from Dana (thanks, Dana!) I decided to turn in my parking pass and re-commit to the bus for most (not all) of my trips. And I am much happier already. So now I REALLY don't want to see the Metro cut.
– Irene Reti (Capitola)
As a student from Southern California, I know what it's like to not have efficient public transit. Since I've moved here, I've always been so impressed with the reliability of the Metro's bus lines and the extraordinary kindness of the drivers.
So many times I have forgotten or lost my ID, and no one has ever turned me away from getting aboard a bus. And when a bus is full to capacity, the majority of the drivers do everything they can to make sure everyone gets home by asking people to squeeze together.
My mom used to drive a school bus and I know it's not an easy job to deal with students day in and day out, but I love our drivers and the experiences I have had on our buses. I don't have a vehicle currently, but when I graduate, I will be getting a bus pass and not a car. I #BusByChoice.
– Kelsey Hill (at UCSC)
As a retired faculty member at UCSC, I often ride the bus up to the campus, as I have done since the 1970s. Given a choice between driving and riding the bus, I always prefer the bus. Sometimes I put my bike in the rack on the front, so I can use it to get around. The bus operators are always helpful and friendly, as evidenced by the fact that many passengers say “Thank You” as they get off!
One of the great services provided by our Metro is the weekend service to Big Basin State Park. Every summer I lead at least one Sierra Club hike in Big Basin. We ride the #35A bus to get there, and usually hike from the Park Headquarters down past the waterfalls to the Pacific Ocean at Waddell Beach—a marvelous relaxing walk of about 13 miles. The timing is exactly right for us to board the #40 bus for the return trip down the coast back to Santa Cruz. For a detailed description, click on this link.
The ride to Big Basin takes about an hour and a quarter, and the route makes a geological transect of Santa Cruz County, so I take the opportunity (I have a captive audience) to give a little lecture about the geological features we can see from the bus. The windows are large and clean and the seats are high, so we all get a good view. It's like a tour bus, but much less expensive. There is also no entrance fee to the park, and no parking problem, and no lengthy car shuttle. What a treat!
Update: Since I wrote the above, an unfortunate thing happened, namely, METRO discontinued—in late 1916, as part of a series of budget cuts—the weekend bus service to Big Basin. Of course we hope for the resumption of this marvelous service.
– Peter Scott (Santa Cruz)
I have recently been getting around more by bus and bike after mostly being in a car with a young child for some years. Here's my observation:
When in a car, it's like you're in your own little bubble. you're not part of the outside world or larger community. You mostly get annoyed with all the other people in their cars who seem to be in your way. You go from A to B without really experiencing the world.
When you walk, ride public transit or bike, you're literally in the outside world more- enjoying the air, scenery, weather. You have contact with many more people. Each time I ride the bus I find someone new to talk to and my life is enriched a little. People driving by also notice people on bikes and waiting at bus stops and it's a little nudge for them, to consider getting out of their car.
It's quite unreal that we hurtle around in huge hunks of steel as if they were weightless. It shouldn't be so easy to step on the gas and go. When you walk, bike or ride transit you carry yourself and your cargo at least part of the way and so you're more in touch with reality.
I think we need to broadcast how many benefits there are to getting out of cars! Rest, relax, talk, knit, read. Not have to drive in stop and go traffic, or find and pay for parking. No gas bill. Not to mention keeping the air cleaner and reducing emissions for the long-term well-being of all.
– Nancy Faulstich (Watsonville)
I recently decided to take the bus for a regular commitment downtown. I had gotten a parking ticket and realized I would rather give my money to the bus system than to pay for parking or tickets. I was already walking to work most days and am always grateful for the time to get my thoughts collected without having to worry about traffic.
The walk to and from the bus stop has helped me relax from my work week. I have enjoyed being with people without the pressure to talk. Taking the bus instead of driving allows me to observe my surroundings.
I feel good about supporting public transportation when I can. It is good for the environment and for me personally. I hope to find other times in my week to take the bus.
– Dana Kaiser-Davidson (Live Oak)
As a regular bus rider for the last five years, I have come to rely on the Metro for safe and reliable transportation in support of my very busy daily schedule. But more than that, Metro riders have become my extended family; a family that I cherish and look forward to seeing each and every day. Whether it's a longer conversation or simply a nodded hello, the bus is my rolling living room where my Metro transit family, riders and drivers alike, can gather every day. Sensible transportation? Yes. But also much, much more.
– Steve Pleich (Santa Cruz)
My twin sister and family all live in Oakland.
I try to go visit at least once a month, and I almost always take the Highway 17 bus and then the Capitol Corridor Amtrak train. I love it because I can sit and read a book or do some work. During the school year, I bring my grading, or I bring my laptop and work on letters of recommendation. Both the Highway 17 bus and the train have reliable wi-fi, and I can always get a lot done. On this particular trip, I was doing some work to support my husband, Steve Schnaar, with his bid for city council. Frankly, now and then I also just take a nap.
I also like the train because they have a snack car, and I can get a glass of wine or some junk food.
– Stacey Falls (Santa Cruz)
P.S. We received the above on July 21, and when we finally posted it on August 26, and told Stacey, she wrote to us with this note:
:) I love it.
I love the train. I just took it last weekend and was reminded all over again why I think it is so great.
I bus by choice to work as well as over the hill to visit friends since it takes the stress out of handling the treacherous curves of Highway 17. Busing by choice allows me to visit my family in other parts of the state as the bus connects me to Amtrak. If it weren't for the bus, I wouldn't have as much social or fiscal opportunity within my reach, especially when I was a teen.
– Josh Stephens (Santa Cruz)
My name is Violet. I live in Watsonville, I'm 21 years old. I go to school at Cabrillo college in Aptos. I take the bus because I don't feel like taking the drivers test.
– Violet Adams (Watsonville)
I'm so happy to have gone on a Bus-by-Choice trip to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). The trip was fun—I learned just which buses and trains to catch for efficient travel. The trip also gave me the confidence to trek up to the City on my own for a weekend workshop the following month. Becoming familiar with public transportation has opened up a new freedom for me to travel all around the Bay Area!
– Nicole M (Scotts Valley)
My love affair with public transit is a little different from the ones posted here. I had been using the bus for about 25 years on and off. Being a person who needs a wheelchair for mobility thinking of getting one of those adapted vehicles which cost gets in the $50,000 minimum for a new van is just out of my reach.
I moved to Santa Cruz County when my older child was only five, worked at Soquel and Ocean and lived in Capitola. In those times not all buses had wheelchair lifts. You had to call to let them know you were riding that day. I used a manual wheelchair then and my son used to sit in my lap during trips.
By the time my first daughter was born, I worked at Watsonville and had upgraded to a scooter. The buses were all equipped with wheelchair lifts, the old kind that came from under the bus. My daughter would remain sitting between my legs in the scooter during our trip, and a couple of times we were trapped when the lift broke in mid-air.
When my younger daughter started kindergarten at Soquel Elementary, I started tutoring some Latina girls from my older daughter classroom. With the help of other parents we'd take them on the free days to the Long Marine Lab, MAH, Museum of Natural History and Capitola Library and the beaches close by. All of those trips we did using the bus -- the girls adored it.
Ten years ago, our family decided that we would never be able to own a house if we stayed in Santa Cruz County, and with a lot of sorrow we moved to Merced County. Two years ago I returned to Santa Cruz. Now we live in Live Oak, and even though my traveling is not as intense as it used to be when raising my kids, I'm enjoying my retirement by participating in several commissions and many events. Several times during the month I travel all the way to Boulder Creek and Watsonville, and once in a while I go all the way to Salinas where my sister lives. But most of the times you can see me and my four-legged partner rolling by Pleasure Point neighborhood.
– Ernestina Saldaña (Live Oak)
As a downtown resident I Bus By Choice because Metro gets me to where I want to go. Whether it's to the campus, Capitola Mall, Soquel or Watsonville. Also the 17 is a convenient connection to San Jose, San Francisco and the airports. I'm happy with Metro's senior fare, and the frequent departure times really work for me.
In 2006, I gave up owning a car after seeing An Inconvenient Truth. Bus By Choice makes me feel good because it's one thing I can do to help the environment.
– Susan Swisher (Santa Cruz)
I'm thrilled to see bus passes for downtown workers! I live off Western Drive and use Metro to get to and from downtown, and also to the east side. Since the 20 only comes once an hour, I usually use my bike or a bike share for part of the trip. I'd really like to see improved headways, particularly along the Soquel corridor and to Watsonville.
Every time I ride the bus I'm so happy to see it full of people that are helping to limit climate change and reduce traffic! We just need it to be an easier choice to make!
– Charlie Vaske (Santa Cruz)