Alternatives Analysis

Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis


In late 2019, the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC), in partnership with Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District (METRO), initiated the next phase of planning for a transit corridor along the existing rail right-of-way that will provide additional travel options, and enhanced access and connectivity for residents, businesses and visitors. One of the outcomes of the Unified Corridor Investment Study, completed in January 2019, was to reserve the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line (SCBRL) for high-capacity public transit adjacent to a bicycle and pedestrian trail. The Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis (TCAA) will evaluate public transit investment options that provide an integrated transit network for Santa Cruz County utilizing all or part of the length of the rail right-of-way as a dedicated transit facility. A performance-based planning approach based on a triple bottom line sustainability framework will be utilized to assess various public transit options for the rail right-of-way. Transit alternatives will be compared to define a locally-preferred alternative that offers the greatest benefit to Santa Cruz County in terms of equity, environment, and economy. Proposed future intercounty and interregional connections to Monterey, Gilroy, the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond will be considered.


Alternatives Analysis Process

During the TCAA planning process, project goals, screening criteria and performance measures will be established to screen and then evaluate the performance of each potential alternative quantitatively. Potential transit alternatives will consider mode types such as rail, bus and other innovative services. Potential connector services will also be evaluated. The analysis will identify potential infrastructure, vehicle type and right-of-way needs as well as other potential transit features.

Agency partners, local and regional stakeholders and the general public will have the opportunity to provide valuable input into the alternatives and evaluation criteria to aid in narrowing down to a feasible transit solution. The ultimate goal of the TCAA is to identify one locally-preferred transit alternative that meets the needs of the diverse community for which it will serve.

Alternatives Analysis Highlights:

  • The rail right of way passes within 1 mile of half of the County’s population and can provide access to 44 schools and 92 parks.
  • Involves the community, partner agencies, the RTC and METRO in the decision-making process to identify a preferred alternative and next steps.
  • Utilizes a performance-based planning approach with a triple bottom line framework of equity, environment, and economy.
  • Develops a strategic business plan for the selected alternative, including a cash flow analysis of environmental clearance, right-of-way, design, construction, operations, and maintenance.
  • A Rail Network Integration Study funded by Caltrans will be performed as part of the Alternatives Analysis.

Business Plan for Electric Passenger Rail on the SCBRL

At the February 4, 2021 commission meeting, the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) accepted the Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis and Rail Network Integration Study (TCAA/RNIS) that selects Electric Passenger Rail as the locally preferred alternative. The final component of the TCAA/RNIS includes development of a 25-year strategic business plan to serve as a guiding document for funding and implementation of electric passenger rail on the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line. A cash flow analysis is presented that provides a detailed picture of the anticipated revenues and expenditures and can be used as a guide for determining the level of funding per year that is required to implement the project. The cash-flow analysis incorporates federal, state, and local funding of environmental review and clearance, system design and permitting, and construction, as well as operations and maintenance once service begins.

Read the DRAFT Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis and Rail Network Integration Study – Business Plan for Electric Passenger Rail on the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line here.

Project Resources

Stakeholder Input

Business Plan

Milestone 1

Milestone 2

Milestone 3

Informational Materials

Planning Reports

Public Participation

RTC and METRO are committed to engaging the public and regional stakeholders throughout the TCAA process. The outreach program includes multiple opportunities to share information, listen to stakeholders and address concerns as well as seek valuable input to help identify a preferred transit alternative to serve and connect our communities.

New information will be distributed electronically through the website, social media and email blasts along with in-person distribution at meetings. If you would like to receive email updates on the TCAA, please complete the e-Subscriptions form.


Brianna Goodman
Transportation Planner
(831) 460-3200