MENDOCINO Co., 1/18/24 – Humboldt Transit Authority (HTA) launched a new bus route this week that provides transportation from Ukiah to Eureka with the goal to better connect the Redwood Empire.
The new line, called the Redwood Coast Express, offers weekday service with stops in Ukiah, Willits, Laytonville, Leggett, Garberville, Fortuna and Eureka. The route runs north- and southbound once daily. It costs $2 to travel one-way from Ukiah to Eureka and riders can use cash, credit card or transit passes from HTA, Mendocino Transit Authority, Redwood Coast Transit or Lake Transit.
According to Greg Pratt, general manager for Humboldt Transit Authority, transit operators from Humboldt, Del Norte, Lake and Mendocino counties began meeting monthly when the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders launched in March 2020. Together, the group of transit operators explored ways to pivot as essential services while still providing safe and reliable transportation to the communities they served.
As the pandemic restrictions subsided, buses began to return to regularly scheduled service. However, the group still meets monthly to find ways to coordinate travel between counties, hence the launch of the new Redwood Coast Express.
Currently, the Redwood Coast Express makes one roundtrip from Eureka to Ukiah. The turnaround time in Ukiah is 30 minutes, meaning riders from northern parts of the route must be prepared to take care of any errands quickly, use another mode of transportation to return north, or find accommodations for an overnight stay. The route is also only available Monday through Friday.
When asked if the Redwood Coast Express would offer more roundtrips for increased flexibility, Pratt said it all comes down to funding. The new route was funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which appropriated $25 billion to transit authorities nationwide in response to the pandemic.
“We are using the last of our CARES Act funds to operate this service,” Pratt says. “HTA would love to add another route in the future if we receive more operational funding.”
In addition to hopes for more funding to expand the route, Pratt shared that there are plans to extend services down to Santa Rosa through a partnership with Mendocino Transit Authority, further expanding the public transportation options for North Coast residents. Currently, riders can also connect to Crescent City from Eureka via Redwood Coast Transit and to Lake County from Ukiah via Lake Transit.
For more information about the Redwood Coast Express visit hta.org.
Note: Sarah Stierch covers food, beverage, culture, weather and breaking news for The Mendocino Voice. Contact Stierch at [email protected]. The Voice maintains editorial control.