At Friends of the Rail and Trail we believe transportation is a social justice issue and have built the Coast Connect transportation vision with the idea that we can improve social and economic equity in our community with a more equitable transportation model. We believe that everyone in Santa Cruz County should have access to an efficient, modern, and sustainable transportation system that benefits everyone; including currently underserved, isolated, and disadvantaged community members.

Historically, transportation policy was used to ‘red-line’ and separate our cities and towns in order to create separate and unequal neighborhoods. As a result, we have a county that has neighborhoods with vastly unequal access to education, jobs, and recreational activity of all types. 

A modern version of redlining occurs when most jobs and opportunities are located in one community, but the inexpensive housing is located in another community far away. This leads to suburban sprawl and workers needing to own a car so they can spend hours traveling to and from work.

In Santa Cruz County, it is normal for families to drive all over the county in pursuit of various opportunities, which means by default, opportunity has been limited to those with both the time to drive and access to a personal vehicle. Very few of our neighborhoods are walkable, with self-contained access to schools, jobs, food and healthcare. 

With the Coast Connect vision we aim to begin the process of correcting this inequity in our community. We believe an integrated and accessible transportation system that connects all our neighborhoods is a vital component to bringing social justice to our community. 

By providing car-free travel options, we can enable families, students and workers access to our world class university, college and K-12 campuses, jobs, internships, cultural institutions, parks and beaches, without the surcharge of owning a vehicle or the time lost sitting in traffic. Giving both time and money back to our community will give us the opportunity to invest in those areas of our lives that bring the most joy. 

Transportation freedom also allows us to take a new look at our neighborhoods. We gain equity in every neighborhood by building complete neighborhoods that are safe and walkable for all ages and abilities and contain local amenities for everyday life. A complete transportation system that includes last mile improvements will help us achieve complete neighborhoods. 

Finally, with a connected transportation system we are providing access to our world renown parks and beaches, enabling easy access for enjoyment by everyone, not just those in the most desirable areas. 

Together we can take that first step towards eliminating the boundaries that have separated our communities and bring more equal opportunity to everyone who lives, works, learns and plays here. 

Friends of the Rail and Trail has always taken equity seriously.  With the Coast Connect vision, we hope to inspire everyone to see how transportation policy can be used to right some of the wrongs of the past. To join us in our advocacy efforts, please visit us at and take action or contact us to learn more.

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