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How to get to San Jose

The Highway 17 Express bus service is the best maintained, easiest, most pleasant and least expensive way to get from Santa Cruz to San Jose. Operated by the METRO (Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District) in conjunction with VTA (Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority) and Amtrak, it provides our primary link to the world outside Santa Cruz.

The story of how the Highway 17 Express service came into being is a story we can be proud of. It involves the continuing support of a multi-party interagency agreement by FIVE agencies, primarily put together by Les White, the former General Manager of the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District. The structure of this agreement is now being used by Caltrans as a model throughout the state. For those interested, the complete story may be found here.

The bus runs every day (32 round trips per day on weekdays; 15 per day on weekends) between the Santa Cruz Metro Center at 920 Pacific Avenue and downtown San Jose. The trip takes about an hour. Although weekend trips terminate at the Diridon Station in San Jose, weekday trips go all the way to San Jose State University at 5th and San Fernando Streets, with a stop at 1st and Santa Clara Streets in case you want to catch the Light Rail.

The complete schedule may be found here. The fare is $7.00 ($3.50 if you're 62 or over). You pay the driver; be sure to have exact change ready. Additional fare information may be found here.

The first main stop in San Jose is the San Jose Diridon Station, where one may connect with trains operated by Amtrak or Caltrain, or the VTA Light Rail Route 902. A little farther is 1st Street (or 2nd Street), along which run two VTA Light Rail Routes (901 & 902). Here one may also connect with any of a number of buses operated by VTA. A schematic but helpful map of the entire Highway 17 Express route (which VTA calls Route 970) may be found here. This map shows many of the intermediate stops, and lists connecting buses—both for VTA and our METRO.

The “Santa Clara” stops for the VTA Light Rail routes 901 and 902 are actually on 1st Street for northbound trains or on 2nd Street for southbound trains, just south of Santa Clara Street in downtown San Jose. Either train is useful for getting to the San Jose Airport. See the San Jose Airport page for details.

You can extend your trip using your bicycle

Each Highway 17 Express bus is equipped with a bicycle rack on the front of the bus, which will accommodate three bicycles. If you want to assure yourself of a slot for your bicycle, it's best to arrive early. If you arrive too late, all the slots may be taken, and you'll have to wait for the next bus if you want to use your bicycle to extend your trip.

Where to catch the Highway 17 Express

The principal boarding locations in Santa Cruz County for the Highway 17 Express bus are the Santa Cruz Metro Center at 920 Pacific Avenue and the Scotts Valley Transit Center in Scotts Valley. In addition, five of the weekday morning runs start from the Soquel Park & Ride Lot near the Dominican Hospital. The bus may also be boarded at the Pasatiempo off-ramp on Highway 17. The photo on our transit guide page shows the bus at the Santa Cruz Metro Center, in the process of boarding passengers. It's adjacent to the Front Street taxi stand.