-  Photo: METRO Magazine

Photo: METRO Magazine

The Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District (METRO) announced the departure of CEO/General Manager Michael Tree.

Tree joined METRO in April 2022 and, after almost two years of service, will be retiring from the agency on Feb. 16, due to unexpected personal reasons.

Michael Tree's Achievements with Santa Cruz METRO

During his time at METRO, Tree has worked with METRO Board and staff on Reimagine METRO, a set of service improvements to bring riders faster, more frequent, and more reliable bus service.

Additionally, Tree launched Youth Cruz Free, which enables all K-12 students to ride METRO free of charge; led the agency to receive numerous grant awards totaling over $148 million; set standards in a zero-emissions fleet by purchasing 57 hydrogen fuel-cell electric buses; and incorporated affordable housing into METRO owned facilities, including the redevelopment of Pacific Station into a multi-use facility with 128 affordable housing units that is slated to start construction in February 2024, and initial planning for the Watsonville Transit Center redevelopment to include 65 units of affordable housing.

Tree along with staff, also launched METRO’s One Ride at a Time program, a rider loyalty program that donates to local environmental non-profit partners and includes buses wrapped with images of the Monterey Bay.

To date, the One Ride at a Time program, along with METRO’s Social Equity and Community Funding Policy, have generated over $237,000 with $42,000 of that funding thus far distributed to METRO’s non-profit partners to help protect the local environment along with 18 40-foot buses and eight articulated buses wrapped with local wildlife images ranging from sea otters, mountain lions, and surrounding natural landscapes.

"My decision to leave the agency and the Santa Cruz community comes with a heavy heart but my decision was made for solely personal reasons related to my aging parents,” said Tree. “The METRO Board and staff are fully committed to METRO’s vision of increasing ridership, growing our zero-emissions fleet, and incorporating affordable housing into METRO-owned facilities, so I am leaving the agency in capable hands that will continue supporting the needs of Santa Cruz County.”

Tree will be relocating to his hometown to be closer to family and join Golden Empire Transit District as its new CEO.

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