Passenger Rail

Santa Cruz County Passenger Rail Study


Passenger Rail Transit Study

The RTC is studying the feasibility of passenger rail transit service along the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line which roughly parallels Highway 1 and the coast in Santa Cruz County.

Passenger Rail Feasibility Study – Draft Report  (Note: The Final Report responding to feedback the RTC received by July 31 is currently under development)

Study Overview

The Passenger Rail Feasibility Study analyzes a range of rail transit service scenarios on the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line. This high-level study includes:

Taking into consideration extensive input the RTC received on draft report, the final report will be prepared – including recommendations for next steps should the RTC decide to implement rail transit service.

Prior to implementing transit service, steps would include: securing funding, environmental review, detailed engineering/design, construction, purchasing trains, and scheduling (in coordination with bus service).

Public Participation

The public comment period for the Draft Passenger Rail Feasibility Study, which was released for public review in May, closed on July 31, 2015. During the public review period, the RTC received input from thousands of people on the Draft Report via emails, an online comment form, an online survey, and at community events and meetings. The broad countywide engagement in this conversation about rail transit on the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line demonstrates that people care deeply about the community and future transportation options. Public comments received on the Draft Report and amendments for the Final Report will be provided to the RTC board later this year. Answers to some of the “Frequently Asked Questions” about rail service are available online and are updated periodically.

  • Stay informed: Sign up for Rail eNews, to receive periodic emails about upcoming meetings and other updates on this rail transit study and rail line.

Initial input: The first stage of public input (Summer 2014) included a public workshop and an online survey on goals and objectives, possible stations, and service scenarios. Over 2,000 people provided input on Santa Cruz County passenger rail by participating in the survey or attending the workshop.


The RTC purchased the rail corridor in 2012 with CA and Santa Cruz County voter-approved passenger rail funds in order to expand the passenger rail network and increase transportation options for the community now and into the future. Planning for the rail corridor also includes: connectivity to existing and planned bus service, regional and state rail service, and coordination with other uses of the rail corridor- such as the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network (a planned bicycle and pedestrian “rail-trail” parallel to the tracks), freight, and recreational excursion rail service. The RTC secured a transit grant from Caltrans to conduct this passenger rail study in partnership with the Santa Cruz METRO Transit District and the Santa Cruz & Monterey Bay Railway/Iowa Pacific (SC&MB).


RTC Contacts

Karena Pushnik and Rachel Moriconi
Senior Transportation Planners (831) 460-3200