Campus Transit FAQ's

These frequently asked questions regarding Campus Transit are an effort to address recent concerns and inquiries and to increase transparency. 

Student Transit Fees

What is the Student Transit Fee?

The current Student Transit fee at UCSC is $171 per quarter. This fee supports fare-free METRO for all undergrad and grad students, maintaining campus transit staff and operations, return to aid, and staffing and operating Disability Van Service. All funds from the student transit fee are used for transit operations and do not include administrative costs.

View all TAPS budget allocations

Why is this a fee?

In conformity with the University’s implementation of the Master Plan for Higher Education in California, adopted by the State Legislature in 1960, certain activities necessary to the operation of UC and CSU campuses have been restricted from receiving state funding. Thus, with very few exceptions, such as Disability Van Services, state money cannot be used for parking or transit.

In 1972, the UCSC student body approved the first Student Transit Fee of $3.50 per student per quarter to fund a service agreement with METRO to allow fare-free rides throughout Santa Cruz County. Since that first election, UCSC students have voted to approve increases to the Student Transit Fee 11 times—most recently in Spring 2019 when the UC Santa Cruz student body overwhelmingly approved Measure 73; it passed with 88% voting yes.

More information about the Measure 73 Referendum

Do other UC students pay for transit on their campuses?

Yes, many other UC campuses have similar models in place. While UCSC overtly has the highest transit fee, this does not take into account that fees and fare-structures vary from site-to-site, as do levels of service. This is due to a multitude of factors, including the number of transit operators serving a particular campus, ridership data and the particular arrangements campuses have in place with their transit partners and student bodies.For example, some UC’s transit fees do not cover service on a regional carrier, some UC’s have higher fees for other services, and some UC’s transit fees do not support on-campus transit at all. At TAPS, we do our best to responsibly and prudently use this student-approved fee revenue for its intended purposes. 

Campus Transit Fleet

How many shuttles does UC Santa Cruz have and how old are they?

UC Santa Cruz has approximately 30 shuttles in our Campus Transit fleet. Model years range from 1993 to 2014. In 2006, the shuttles manufactured in 1993 received new engines, transmissions, and modernized exhaust filter systems to minimize particulate emissions.

How are the buses maintained and how often are they inspected?

All university vehicle maintenance, including that performed on Campus Transit Shuttles, is initiated and completed by UC Santa Cruz Fleet Services (of whom TAPS is a client department).

Campus shuttles go through several types of regular inspection: before they are put into operation and annually by the California Highway Patrol.

Pre-trip inspections 

Before any shuttle is put into operation, TAPS operators conduct standardized pre-trip inspections. Items that are inspected include, but are not limited to, gauges and warning lights, headlights, tail lights, signals, brakes, tires and wheels, doors and emergency equipment. 

Any issues are reported to Fleet Services for immediate diagnoses and action. Vehicles that are deemed not roadworthy are secured, locked out, and only released back to TAPS when they are verified as safe to carry passengers.

Regular inspections 

Multi-point safety inspections and routine maintenance are conducted by technicians represented by AFSCME 3299 — this is the union that represents both TAPS’ Campus Transit drivers and Fleet Services’ Heavy Equipment Technicians — at regular intervals. Our inspection and preventive maintenance schedules are reviewed and approved by the California Highway Patrol. Any issues identified during safety inspections are immediately addressed or, for those issues where parts are not in hand, scheduled for follow-up services.

Annual inspections by the California Highway Patrol

The California Highway Patrol conducts an annual inspection of our heavy-duty maintenance program. Their inspectors review our work orders and visually inspect our equipment.

Please see the campus statement regarding the off-cycle inspections conducted in January 2024.

Additional Safety Measures

TAPS has taken additional measures towards safety, including the provision of new operator seats for all shuttles and upgraded air conditioning units on any shuttle that require it. TAPS will continue to consider safety as paramount, and is committed to promoting and prioritizing safety.

When will we have electric buses?

A significant objective of Measure 73 was “to build a reserve capacity which may be used to support the replacement of the aging bus fleet, including transition to electric vehicles and development of infrastructure to support those vehicles.” This is precisely what TAPS has done. To date, there is a reserve of approximately $4M to put towards new EV buses. The current infrastructure and electrical service to campus also requires an upgrade to support these buses.

TAPS is currently in line at Gillig for two buses; these would be the first EV buses in what we envision to be a complete, phased transition to EV buses over the coming years. The current production timeline would see our first two 35’ Gillig Battery Electric Buses enter the production line on approximately September 15, 2025. Gillig builds the bus in 10-12 days and once it exits the factory Gillig puts the bus through extensive testing including a water intrusion test, a shakedown test and a 1,000 mile road test before being approved for delivery. A shakedown test involves loading and unloading a bus multiple times with excessive weight and measuring the amount of permanent flex the vehicle experiences. Based on the approximate September 15th, 2025 line entry that would mean bus delivery could be expected in mid/late fall quarter in 2025.

Will the buses in the fleet be replaced with other non-electric buses?

We are exploring alternative options for accelerating the retirement of our current fleet; for example, we have recently received four newer 35’ buses that should be in operation very shortly.

Why does it take so long to get buses?

EV buses are in very high demand with long waiting lists for manufacture right now. In addition, UCSC is required to follow certain procurement and purchase procedures for larger, high priced items such as buses. 

Campus Transit Operations

View Campus Transit Schedules

Why are shuttles inconsistent or late?

In fall of 2023, our service levels were more robust than they have been in several years, including prior to the pandemic. Our shuttles are often delayed by other traffic on campus or by large numbers of pedestrians crossing the roads. To potentially help alleviate this, TAPS is sponsoring a study to determine if some of our campus intersections should or should not have signals. We encourage all students to support infrastructure upgrades to improve campus thoroughfares.

What are you doing to ensure there are enough drivers to prevent service reduction/interruptions?

Over the course of last summer, TAPS hiring and training efforts netted an increase of three drivers. We acknowledge that hiring, training and retaining commercial drivers is an ongoing challenge; it is not unique to UC Santa Cruz - just about every firm, agency and municipality that employs commercial drivers faces the same recruiting challenges. We continuously work on our recruiting efforts. For example, we are recruiting a new Training and Safety Manager position to oversee recruitment efforts with the goal of expanding the  driver pipeline. 

Are transit operators  allowed to work full time?

While we do have some part-time drivers, often because working for UC Santa Cruz is a second career for them, it is important to note that most of our drivers are career employees, choosing to work at 100% or 80% appointments. Our drivers do have a furlough built into their annual schedule, which takes place during the summer quarter because of the natural cycle of ridership demand on our campus. However, charter service during the summer allows many operators to continue working during the furlough period. 

Are there any updates regarding the bus crash on December 12, 2023?

The UC Santa Cruz Police Department’s investigation of the cause of the tragic Dec. 12 bus crash is still underway. We appreciate the community’s understanding while the investigation takes its course. The campus will share more information when the investigation concludes.

Did a shuttle catch fire?

A shuttle bus that was in operation caught fire before noon on Monday, 11/13/23. Students and the driver quickly evacuated the vehicle and the fire was quickly extinguished by responding units from the Santa Cruz Fire Department. An investigation pointed to a failed sensor in the diesel after-treatment (filtration) system, which was installed in the bus along with a new engine and transmission in 2006. These systems are maintained annually and inspected semi-annually, per industry standard, by UC Santa Cruz Fleet Services. The Fleet Services maintenance team concluded the sensor failure to be an isolated event, but out of an abundance of caution, campus bus technicians reinspected all similar diesel after-treatment systems in the fleet. No deficiencies were noted.

Parking Enforcement

Why were citation fees raised?

There is a limited amount of parking inventory available on campus, and an extremely high demand for it. Additionally, there has been a recent increase in vehicles parking without required permits, which in turn displaces those who are in compliance with permit requirements. To that end, there has been a strong outcry for increased parking enforcement efforts on campus, which we have done our best to provide. Even with this, there are a number of campus affiliates who are still asking for even more enforcement efforts.

Until recently, our fines had not changed for 13 years, and the lower fines has meant that the parking citations were no longer as effective in deterring people from parking without a valid permit. TAPS consulted with the Advisory Committee on Campus Transportation and Parking (ACCTP) on this topic on May 2, 2023;  it was unanimously supported and strongly recommended that the campus move forward with a parking fine rate increase.  While our citation fine amounts were recently raised, they are still mid-range among UC’s and in line with the City of Santa Cruz.

More Information

Where can I find information from TAPS?

In addition to our website, affiliates can also sign up for the monthly Slugs on the Move Newsletter and follow us on Instagram

How is TAPS increasing information distribution and transparency?

TAPS will be hosting an event at the Quarry plaza on April 18th which will include all Risk & Safety Services divisions where affiliates can talk to us and get more information. TAPS will also begin conducting quarterly town halls which will be open to all. The first of these is tentatively scheduled for mid-spring quarter; more information will be available as details are confirmed. 

We are also working with the campus public information office to regularly schedule quarterly transportation update emails to the entire campus community. We are exploring new ways to clearly convey budgetary information as an alternative to the current percentage-based information on the website.

What can I do if I want more information?

All affiliates and student groups are encouraged to submit questions to You can also invite TAPS to attend one of your group’s meetings or request a meeting with TAPS.