For the upperclassmen veterans who have fond memories of shuffling onto the loop bus, some things may have changed in the last 18 months. Whether you’re still questioning which bus you have to show your ID for, or have that locked down in your muscle memory, here’s a quick refresher on UC Santa Cruz’s and the City of Santa Cruz’s Metro System (SCM).

Loop Buses

semi transparent illustrations of buses and a bus stop
Illustration by Kora Fortun.

UCSC’s campus shuttle program, also known as the loop buses, circle around campus all day in both directions, hitting all corners of UCSC. Loop buses do not make their way into the city, but are a great way to get from one end of campus to the other without tired legs.

Students will never have to wait too long for a loop bus to come around, since there are multiple buses in circulation throughout the day. Loop buses are also free for anyone who wants to get on, and riders do not need the validation of an ID. 

For first-time passengers who may not be sure of bus etiquette, some general rules include: not taking phone calls on the bus, always thanking your bus driver, and if you are traveling to another stop on campus, use a loop bus rather than the Metro.

Santa Cruz Metro

The bus costs two dollars for Santa Cruz residents, but UCSC students are granted free entry onto SCM buses with a valid student ID.

With the exception of the 22, all SCM buses start and end at the Santa Cruz Metro Center, located on Pacific Avenue. While SCM offers over 20 different routes to get you around town, only six of them take the loop around the UCSC campus. For now, these are the six we’ll look into with greater detail.

10: Traveling counterclockwise (meaning the bus travels from Cowell/Stevenson to Oakes/Family Student Housing) around campus, the 10 is the fastest route to get to Downtown. By taking High St. and avoiding more prominent locations along the west side of Santa Cruz, a trip to Pacific Ave. only takes between 15 to 25 minutes depending on where you are on campus. However, the 10 is one of the most infrequent routes that come across Westside, coming only once every hour. 

15: Traveling clockwise around campus, the 15 takes Bay St. most of the way before passing Santa Cruz High School to get to Downtown. Buses come once every half hour on weekdays, but the 15 does not operate on weekends. Depending on traffic conditions and where students board the 15, a trip to Downtown should take 20 to 30 minutes.

semi transparent illustrations of buses and a bus stop
Illustration by Kora Fortun.

18: For a quick grocery trip or a sip of boba, the newest line in town — only active since June 2021 — may be the perfect choice. The 18 travels counterclockwise around campus, going down Western Drive and Mission Street. By taking one of the more populous streets in Santa Cruz, the 18 can take you directly to places like Safeway, McDonald’s, and Starbucks. This route also passes local businesses such as TZONE Santa Cruz and the Twice As Nice Discount Store. 18 buses come once every half hour, with some slight variation for the weekend schedule.

19: If you’re looking to get to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the 19 is the route for you. Traveling clockwise around campus, the 19 takes 20 to 30 minutes to get Downtown. Similarly to the 15, the 19 travels down Bay St. most of the way to Downtown. However, instead of passing by Santa Cruz High School, the 19 stops directly at Cowell Beach or the Santa Cruz Wharf. Like the 18, buses come once every half hour, but switches to hourly service on weekends.

20: Similar to the 18, the 20 also travels counterclockwise around campus and makes its way into town through Western. However, instead of going through Mission St., the 20 turns left onto Delaware Ave., servicing neighborhoods around South Westside and West Cliff. Hitting stops only once every hour, the 20 takes 25 to 35 minutes to get from campus to Downtown.    

22: While the 22 doesn’t make its way to Downtown, it still circulates through campus. Traveling counterclockwise on campus, the 22 takes Bay St. before turning right to make its way to the Coastal Science Center and closer to Natural Bridges State Beach. Service is hourly and only occurs on weekdays.

For more on SCM’s bus routes, their specific stops, and schedules, go to