The Mid-Coast trolley line is a multibillion-dollar project that will change San Diego’s transit system. One low-cost way to help ensure the project pays off: Improve the buses that feed into the line.
The 215 Rapid bus averages only 12 mph. It’s not much faster than a cyclist. Offboard ticket purchasing and allowing all passengers to board at any door could speed up service. There are more radical — and controversial — solutions San Diego could try, too.
San Diego County permitted a little more than three units per 1,000 people in 2016. That’s dwarfed by the level of new housing permits in other fast-growing Sun Belt cities.
Rich suburbs have no more room and are experiencing low population growth. Meanwhile, the highest growth in San Diego County is in lower middle-income Vista. Together, these two trends show how poor transportation and growth-restricting zoning limit the county’s access to good jobs.
Housing costs have repelled many prospective migrants, and at the same time encouraged residents to relocate to Riverside County. Disproportionately, those leaving San Diego for Riverside are low-income people, not well-off homeowners chasing a bigger house.
In branding, San Diego’s Rapid bus looks as sleek as the best bus rapid transit systems. But on the ground, it falls short of the standards for good bus service.
The cost of SANDAG’s highest-profile projects, the Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project to extend the Blue Line north to the UCSD campus, is especially high for a light-rail project. But there is a change SANDAG could consider that would reduce the price tag and take advantage of both existing light-rail lines and the Coaster rail line.
The stretch from Los Angeles to San Diego is one of America’s busiest travel corridors. Yet the plans for California’s high-speed rail prioritizes the route from Los Angeles to San Francisco instead. There are steps Southern California officials could take in the meantime, however, that would drastically improve rail services and encourage more people to ride.