Passenger vans that will be used for a new rideshare service from Santa Cruz Metro.
(Santa Cruz Metro)
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Vans on demand: Santa Cruz Metro bus service launches UberPool-like ride share service

As of Monday, Santa Cruz Metro will offer an on-demand van service similar to UberPool. It’s called Cruz On-Demand, and will offer rides for no more than $3 within a three-mile radius.

Santa Cruz Metro is launching a new on-demand transit service today. The program, called Cruz On-Demand, allows riders to use an app, or call a phone number, to order a ride in a shared van.

Passengers can be dropped off anywhere within a three-mile radius of their starting point (as long as it’s within the Metro service area).

Metro communications director Danielle Glagola said the service will be similar to UberPool. “We’re trying to [attract] people who might not otherwise use the bus and public transportation,” Glagola said.

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Cruz On-Demand will use vans from ParaCruz, Metro’s ride share service for people with disabilities. Glagola said part of the impetus for Cruz On-Demand was a lack of demand for ParaCruz services amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cruz On-Demand is effectively an expansion of the ParaCruz service to the general public. “Our ridership numbers are low right now, and we don’t have too many people on these vans, so it’s just using some space we currently have available,” Glagola said.

How to ride

Like Metro’s fixed-route bus service, Cruz On-Demand is a shared-ride service. Expect stops along the way to pick up and drop off other customers before reaching your destination. To order a ride, download the Ecolane app or call METRO’s ParaCruz Customer Service at (831) 425-4664.

Rides will cost $2 for trips up to two miles and $3 for trips between two to three miles through September 15, 2021, the same date that Metro discount fares are set to expire. Metro fares are currently reduced by about 50% (to $1 for a single ride), so the Cruz On-Demand cost might increase along with them or at another point in the future.

The service, which is a pilot program estimated to last at least a year, is limiting trips to no more than three miles because it is intended for short neighborhood trips or to connect riders to a Metro Transit Center for longer journeys.

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“It is not meant to replace trips that could be served by Metro’s fixed-route bus system,” according to the Cruz On-Demand information page. “Shorter trips also mean that more people will get to use the system.”

Cruz On-Demand also isn’t serving the UC-Santa Cruz campus. “The UCSC campus already benefits from very frequent fixed-route service and the demand on campus would be far too great for on-demand service,” the information page says.

To order a ride, download the Ecolane app or call METRO’s ParaCruz customer service line at (831) 425-4664.

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