San Diego, CA–Service on local transit routes will be increased this fall thanks to funding from TransNet, the region’s half-cent sales tax for transportation projects, administered by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).
The improvements are a first step toward creating a faster, fairer, and cleaner transportation system in the San Diego region – the goal of SANDAG’s 2021 Regional Plan.
The TransNet extension ballot measure passed by San Diego County voters in 2004 included specific language calling for increased service on the North County Transit District (NCTD) COASTER rail line. Since then, SANDAG has leveraged TransNet funds to secure additional state and federal dollars for approximately eighteen completed projects that have improved commuter rail capacity along the corridor through double-tracking and other improvements. The COASTER service increases, to take effect this October, will add new weekday and weekend trips to the schedule.
The additional transit funding also will support the construction and Metropolitan Transit Service (MTS) operation of the Mid-Coast Extension of the UC San Diego Blue Line Trolley. The project will extend service from Santa Fe Depot in Downtown San Diego north to the University community, serving major activity centers such as Mission Bay Park, the VA Medical Center, UC San Diego, and University Towne Centre. Nine new stations are part of the project and are under construction. Major construction work began in 2016, with service anticipated to begin in late 2021.
“This increase in service for our transit partners is a great example of what we can do today to make transit a more convenient option,” said SANDAG Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “The goal of SANDAG’s draft 2021 Regional Plan, the blueprint for the future of transportation, is to create a faster, fairer, and cleaner transportation system for every person in the region now and in the future.”
The 2021 Regional Plan outlines a blueprint for transportation in the San Diego region through 2050 and identifies social inequity as one of the primary challenges that must be addressed. The development of the plan presents an opportunity to implement mobility solutions that improve equity in underserved communities.
On Thursday, the SANDAG 2021 Regional Plan Social Equity Working Group, which consists of community-based organizations from environmental justice communities around the San Diego region, met to discuss an equity early action budget amendment that would support opportunities for immediate investments in public transit.
“Through the Social Equity Working Group, SANDAG has heard the voices of our communities loud and clear,” said Social Equity Working Group Chair and San Diego City Councilmember Vivian Moreno. “The Transit Equity Early Action Budget Amendment will deliver more immediate investments in transit access for the underserved communities that need them the most.”
The group discussed how equity concerns could be addressed through the development of pilot projects that could serve as the foundation for future investments. Examples of pilot projects discussed include:
- Increased service on specific bus routes (Increased frequencies/span of service)
- Youth Opportunity Passes
- Blue Line Express Service Analysis
- Voucher program for hours when the Trolley is not able to operate due to freight operations
Funding for these pilots will continue to be explored during the summer, and SANDAG will present a proposed budget amendment this fall.
The draft 2021 Regional Plan is available for review and public comment through August 6. Comments are accepted through an online comment form, email, voicemail, fax, and written comments mailed to the SANDAG offices at 401 B Street, Suite 800, San Diego, CA 92101.