Coast Futura Streetcar Demonstration Coming to Santa Cruz County


 | February 22, 2021

Imagine being able to leave your car behind and commute from Watsonville to downtown Santa Cruz in a little over an hour on a streetcar system that runs daily from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Imagine commuting on a light weight, clean, quiet (70db), zero emission streetcar that could service the entire 20 mile length of the Santa Cruz Branch Line with 20 minutes between each streetcar, the ability to carry passengers in numbers meeting all future demands, and the ability to support and increase ridership on METRO’s bus service.

Imagine riding to Watsonville and connecting to the rest of California and beyond via a train station at Pajaro Junction.

Imagine using a streetcar to carry your bicycle for a day trip to Nisene Marks State Park or Wilder Ranch State Park.

Imagine being able to hop on a streetcar on the Westside of Santa Cruz and have dinner out in Capitola, visit Seascape, grab a beer and pizza in Seabright, or eat in Aptos or downtown Watsonville without the need to park a car.

The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC) identified Electric Passenger Rail as the preferred transit option for the coastal rail corridor in February. TIG/m, a California-based company, is proposing a high-capacity streetcar system, accessible by all. The SCCRTC also voted to approve a demonstration by TIG/m to show its vehicle in use along a 3.9-mile distance from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk to Capitola, as well as in Watsonville. Originally planned for the Spring 2020, due to the pandemic the demonstration is now planned for Labor Day Weekend, Aug. 28-Sept. 6, 2021.

The TIG/m system would cost 1/4 of the cost estimated by the SCCRTC’s 2019 Unified Corridor Investment Study and the Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis. The system has the potential to be self-sustaining without increased taxes. The system would be fully compatible with the multiple uses envisioned for the Santa Cruz Branch Line, including the bicycle and pedestrian trail already under construction. Fares would be comparable to current METRO fares.

TIG/m was awarded Manufacturer of the Year, Environmental and Sustainable Initiative and Highly Commended in the category of Customer Initiative at the 2020 Global Light Rail Awards.

Questions, comments or concerns about this demonstration or how TIG/m’s vehicles can work on the Santa Cruz Branch line? Email

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  1. Sure hope there will be something like this between Santa Cruz and Watsonville someday! Lots of funding will be available thru the State and the Federal governments. Let’s think about and support future transportation needs for the county….for everybody!

  2. This is the most exciting development for our rail corridor and rail and trail dreams since the original purchase of the rail corridor by the County RTC in 2012!
    This streetcar is “right sized” for our smaller population, yet capable of scaling up if demand requires it.
    Clean, safe, quiet, and powered by clean energy, let’s use this ASAP and make it a daily service!

  3. An hour to get to Watsonville or back fulfills the expectations of tour bus riders, not commuters. If you want to get people out of cars and onto public transit, “electric” and “rail” is not near enough. It needs to transport people from A to B at least as quickly as a car would on open roads and empty streets. It needs to offer each rider at least a semi-private space for working, social distancing, and personal security. It needs to pick riders up and drop them off at or within easy walking distance of their points of origination and destination. It needs to be available 24/7, or as close as possible to that goal. Each ride needs to cost less than an uber or lyft ride — ideally, closer to present-day bus fare. Its infrastructure needs to take up less ground-space than roads and rail lines, and vehicles should not crowd dozens of passengers into a single, enclosed space. Give the people what they want and they will embrace your way. Force them to put up with whatever you think is “right and proper” or “good enough,” and they will find another, better way.

  4. If the existing rail can be used, why not turn it into a type of commuter rail around the bay itself, & electrify it in the process? Larger cities/regions like San Diego & SLC have done this, & it has worked out extremely well. In addition, smaller electric trains could navigate the city, removing vehicles from the roadways, & in the process alleviate drive times for those who wish to use their cars.

  5. Hmmm, Here we are on August 30th and I keep looking down the track and I don’t see this fantasy streetcar. Oh yeah, that’s right, the provider who wants to privatize the street car operation has no commuter rail experience. Oh well, back to waiting….and waiting….and waiting

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