Beach area bus feeder routes are proposed to be reconfigured to accommodate the new Mid-Coast Trolley extension expected to open by the end of this year.
Bus routes proposed to be realigned by the Metropolitan Transit Service include coastal routes 8, 9, 30, 27, 43, 44, 105, 140, 201/202, 985, 50, and 150.
This realignment has been proposed in a 2018 Feeder Bus Study. Proposed bus route changes, if approved, would be implemented when Mid-Coast Trolley service begins.
The Mid-Coast Trolley 11-mile Blue Line Trolley service extension with nine new stations will go from Santa Fe Depot in Downtown San Diego to the University community. The extension will serve major activity centers such as Old Town, UC San Diego, and University Town Centre. Construction on the trolley extension began in fall 2016.
“The target date set by the San Diego Association of Governments for opening the Mid-Coast Trolley extension is November 2021,” said Denis Desmond, transportation planner for the Metropolitan Transit System, which operates the City’s trolley and bus lines. “What we really want to do is connect all the adjacent commuter service into the Blue Line.”
Connecting all the transportation dots, according to Desmond, will require reorienting the direction of bus routes feeding into the trolley system.
“The way our transportation network is structured right now is a very north-south orientation while traveling between the beach areas, Old Town and Downtown in the City is east-west service,” he said. “What we need to do to connect the beach areas into the Blue Line is to create more of an east-west series of bus routes to make it as easy as possible for people to use our buses to get to the trolley and just transfer.”
Desmond discussed the game plan for accomplishing that.
“What we’re (MTS) proposing to do is change seven existing bus routes, and add three new routes,” he said. “One new route would serve Clairemont Mesa Boulevard starting at the transit center in Kearny Mesa and ending at the new Balboa Avenue Transit Center. The second new proposed route would connect the new Balboa Avenue Transit Center hub to downtown La Jolla. It would use Interstate 5 and La Jolla Parkway crossing Torrey Pines Road and ending by the post office on Silverado Street. The third route we’re proposing to add is a shuttle route from the UC San Diego Station heading to the North Torrey Pines area during weekday peak periods.”
Desmond said bus route 30 now going from downtown San Diego to UTC is proposed to begin and end on the south end at Old Town. He added bus route 8 out of Old Town going through Mission Beach, currently ending by Crystal Pier and Garnet Avenue, is proposed to be changed to end at the Balboa Avenue Transit Center. “Eight (would be) a horseshoe-shaped route with Old Town at the south end, and the Balboa Trolley Station at the north end,” he said. “That way, you have access in both PB and MB to the trolley on both ends.”
The traffic planner added bus route 9 coming out of Old Town and serving SeaWorld and Crown Point is proposed to end now at Ingraham and Garnet. “Now that 8 is going through PB, we’re proposing that route 9 end by the Vons and Trader Joes, turn around, then go back down through Crown Point and SeaWorld,” Desmond said.
“These bus route changes are proposals at this point and are currently out for public review and comment,” said Desmond. “Then we’ll bring it back to the MTS Board in April for final approval. That will give us six months or so to make changes with bus stops, etc. before the Mid-Coast Trolley opens.”
Freeways and arterials in the Mid-Coast Corridor are generally congested and traffic congestion is projected to increase more as the region grows. The population along the corridor is predicted to increase 19 percent by the year 2030, while employment is predicted to increase 12 percent.
The Mid-Coast Trolley will expand transportation capacity in the corridor to accommodate existing and future travel demand, particularly for peak-period commute trips. The project will provide an effective alternative to congested freeways and roadways for travelers and will reduce vehicle miles traveled.