.METRO Rolling Out Electric Buses, New Downtown Watsonville Route

Four new battery-electric buses will be ready to roll through the county by fall 2021 as part of METRO’s public transportation fleet.

The first two electric buses of the quartet will be used for the Zero-Emission Watsonville Circulator Operating Project. Through the project, those buses will run on a new route in downtown Watsonville in the fall, METRO spokesperson Danielle Glagola said.

The new route is designed to reduce the number of riders using intercity buses for local trips, and increase the number of transit passengers by providing more frequent service to desirable destinations in Watsonville, Glagola said. They will run between 10am and 8pm daily.

Watsonville Mayor Jimmy Dutra, who is also on the board of directors at METRO, said he is charged up about the additions. He said the project has been in the works since 2015.

“This included searching for funding and we eventually were able to garner enough funding to purchase these buses from the company Proterra,” he said. “It’s been a long journey, and I’ve been on this ride from the beginning. I’ve been a big voice pushing for clean energy buses. We’re excited.”

The buses have been painted and are in their final testing phase, Dutra said.

The route for the first two electric buses will connect the Watsonville Transit Center with retail and medical destinations in Watsonville, Glagola said. Stops will include:

  • Watsonville Transit Center (WTC)    
  • Beach/Lincoln-Lincoln/Freedom 
  • Freedom/Airport-Airport/Green Valley
  • Main/Rodriguez-WTC 

These stops will connect commuters with existing local and intercity bus routes 69A, 72/72W, 74S, 75, and 79.

Funding for the $5.2 million project, Glagola said, stemmed from a variety of sources.

Dutra said the METRO board hopes to add more such buses in the future.

METRO staff is still working on route, charge and rate analysis for the other two buses, Glagola said.


  1. I’m all for electrifying those things that are contributing to climate change, but to say zero emissions is a bit misleading. Where does the electricity come from to charge the busses? it’s certainly not all solar. Also what about the battery technology? Has that all of the sudden become far less toxic? So we pollute other communities with the manufacturing of batteries, and the generation of unclean electricity so we can feel better? As of now, there is no such thing as “Zero Emission”. None of the misleading information is surprising, considering Jimmy Dutra’s name is attached.

  2. This is an excellent application for the current status of battery electric transportation. Another thing for the city of Watsonville, and county of Santa Cruz to move on is land use planning that supports the switch to electric transportation. It is time to stop constructing new gasoline stations. There are more than enough already in existence for current and future needs. Please see https://nonewgasstations.org

  3. I recently purchased a “Zero Emission” electric car, which I charge exclusively at EVgo charging stations.
    Their electricity is generated from 100% renewable sources.

  4. Gabriel, I’m glad you brought that up. I, along with my partner were intending to set up an EV charging station for commercial use. EVgo was one of the facilities we were going to use or model ourselves after. Once we dug deep we found out about the shakey and misleading world of Renewable energy certificates. Companies like EVgo and other “Green” companies buy and sell the rights to say that they are 100% renewable. They unfortunately are still using the exact same electricity that comes through the lines as everyone else which at this point is still about 40% natural gas, and other undefined imported sources.

    Not to even that the rare earth elements needed to create the batteries for EV’s like lithium, nickel, cobalt, or graphite that only exist beneath the surface of the Earth and therefore depend on mining activities with very polluting processes.

    Are EV’s the future and can they keep us from heating up much more, maybe. But it seems like just a bandaid that will eventually leave our future generations to deal with. But make no mistake, that electric charging station is not getting its power from 100% renewable resources, it has just paid to legally be able to say it does.

    Here is a decent and easy to digest article on REC’s https://www.vox.com/2015/11/9/9696820/renewable-energy-certificates


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Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.
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