MTS: Dream of Trolley-to-Airport Link Inferior to Reality

 

In today’s “What’s the Deal?” I tried to explain why the trolley does not link to the airport. I wasn’t trying to say that there was no public transportation option to get to the airport.

I know there is — because I’ve taken it. But I should have been more clear, as readers have flooded my inbox with the same point: You can take the trolley or bus to the Santa Fe Depot downtown and take a convenient bus to the airport.

Metropolitan Transit System spokesman Rob Schupp even went so far as to say that SANDAG’s vision of connecting passengers with a simple link or bridge from the trolley station at Washington Street to the new car rental facility being planned on the north side of the airport is inferior to what exists now:

What all articles on this subject fail to mention is that there is excellent public transit service to the airport already. At Kettner and Broadway – where all transit connects, including Amtrak, Coaster, all three light rail lines and many bus routes – MTS operates the Route 992, which provides almost non-stop service to all three airport terminals (we pick up few passengers between downtown and the airport). In nine minutes you are at the commuter terminal, in 12 minutes to Terminal 1 and in 15 minutes to Terminal 2…. This is MUCH better service than transferring to the Green Line to get to Washington, walking over a bridge with all your luggage and then catching a shuttle.

I didn’t realize such a divergence of views existed between SANDAG and MTS.

But if the people in charge of public transit in San Diego don’t think a link from the trolley to the airport is needed or would be better than what exists, that seems like a pretty substantial hurdle in front of the mayor and SANDAG executive director pushing it.

I’m Scott Lewis, the CEO of Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you’d like at scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it’s a blast!):

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Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis

I'm Scott Lewis, the CEO of Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it's a blast!): @vosdscott.

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18 comments
Nathan Landau
Nathan Landau subscriber

The 992 works well if one is going downtown, or to the south and east. But if you're going north to Hillcrest, to La Jolla, wherever, it's out of direction. Old Town is the major transfer point for all the service to northern San Diego. An additional bus line to Old Town would be a relatively cheap, easy to implement addition that would tie the airport to the whole city's transit network.

Wanderer
Wanderer

The 992 works well if one is going downtown, or to the south and east. But if you're going north to Hillcrest, to La Jolla, wherever, it's out of direction. Old Town is the major transfer point for all the service to northern San Diego. An additional bus line to Old Town would be a relatively cheap, easy to implement addition that would tie the airport to the whole city's transit network.

Bill Sheffler
Bill Sheffler subscribermember

Although buses are far more efficient than light rail in western cities, that solution is 2nd class for non-residents. Tourists and commercial travelers expect a direct light rail experience to downtown.

WmJSheffler
WmJSheffler

Although buses are far more efficient than light rail in western cities, that solution is 2nd class for non-residents. Tourists and commercial travelers expect a direct light rail experience to downtown.

Kevin Swanson
Kevin Swanson subscribermember

If SANDAG's Vision is to perpetuate the inefficient bus system that was adopted in 1949 after Chevrolet bribed officials in LA and San Diego, perhaps they need new glasses!

Syntropic
Syntropic

If SANDAG's Vision is to perpetuate the inefficient bus system that was adopted in 1949 after Chevrolet bribed officials in LA and San Diego, perhaps they need new glasses!

Chris Brewster
Chris Brewster subscribermember

The 992 bus is good. I used to take it regularly from downtown. However, the primary hub for most of the buses from the north seems to be Old Town. Why no shuttle from there?

B Chris Brewster
B Chris Brewster

The 992 bus is good. I used to take it regularly from downtown. However, the primary hub for most of the buses from the north seems to be Old Town. Why no shuttle from there?

Abhi Buch
Abhi Buch subscriber

" Route 992 is One of san Diego's best kept secrets "is about right! When I called the SD Commute center for info on transit to the airport, the person answering the phone had to search maps and listings to give me the 992 bus route! It took her awhile to figure it out! Is this because SD is NOT a user friendly town for people who live here, and only caters to tourists and visitors who use taxis and rental cars? It is disgraceful for a major city to be so lax in such matters: they talk of being "Green" and and sell alot of T-Shirts at Earth Day then make it either too expensive or too difficult to use public transit. The worst I have ever known of big cities anywjere.

Scorpius
Scorpius

" Route 992 is One of san Diego's best kept secrets "is about right! When I called the SD Commute center for info on transit to the airport, the person answering the phone had to search maps and listings to give me the 992 bus route! It took her awhile to figure it out! Is this because SD is NOT a user friendly town for people who live here, and only caters to tourists and visitors who use taxis and rental cars? It is disgraceful for a major city to be so lax in such matters: they talk of being "Green" and and sell alot of T-Shirts at Earth Day then make it either too expensive or too difficult to use public transit. The worst I have ever known of big cities anywjere.

Bettie Shepherd
Bettie Shepherd subscribermember

I would love to take the 992 to the airport but first I have to get to a trolley or bus. For those of us who already live in the coastal strip as VOSD has recently been recommending, trolley stops are nonexistent and bus stops are few and far between. I would have to lug my baggage 1.4 miles and make several transfers. I hope someone is looking at the entire picture and not just the area adjacent to the airport.

Bettie
Bettie

I would love to take the 992 to the airport but first I have to get to a trolley or bus. For those of us who already live in the coastal strip as VOSD has recently been recommending, trolley stops are nonexistent and bus stops are few and far between. I would have to lug my baggage 1.4 miles and make several transfers. I hope someone is looking at the entire picture and not just the area adjacent to the airport.

Jennifer Reiswig
Jennifer Reiswig subscribermember

I'd also love to see the 992 supported more through promotion at the airport, as well as see the schedule beefed up. Another improvement would be to extend the 992 to do a loop south to the Convention Center hotels rather than turning north at City College. This would enable convention-goers to use the 992 to those hotels without having to figure out how to ride the trolley, which line to take etc, not to mention pay another full fare for only a couple stops. The cabbies of course will hate this.

bmljenny
bmljenny

I'd also love to see the 992 supported more through promotion at the airport, as well as see the schedule beefed up. Another improvement would be to extend the 992 to do a loop south to the Convention Center hotels rather than turning north at City College. This would enable convention-goers to use the 992 to those hotels without having to figure out how to ride the trolley, which line to take etc, not to mention pay another full fare for only a couple stops. The cabbies of course will hate this.

John Anderson
John Anderson subscriber

Agree with the above that 992 is a decent option (one I've used many times). Upgrades to 992 would help a lot - current schedule is every 15 minutes during majority of weekdays, but every 30 minutes in mornings / evenings and weekends. Additionally, the lack of a transfer option (that used to exist) makes the fares essentially double a single ride ($2.25 I believe unless recently changed) and puts taxi or other options close on cost and much more convenient with children, extra luggage, etc.

John Anderson
John Anderson

Agree with the above that 992 is a decent option (one I've used many times). Upgrades to 992 would help a lot - current schedule is every 15 minutes during majority of weekdays, but every 30 minutes in mornings / evenings and weekends. Additionally, the lack of a transfer option (that used to exist) makes the fares essentially double a single ride ($2.25 I believe unless recently changed) and puts taxi or other options close on cost and much more convenient with children, extra luggage, etc.

Thomas Theisen
Thomas Theisen subscribermember

Before spending "a few million dollars" for a bridge, or "more than a few million dollars" on a new terminal, it seems to make more sense to spend a few thousand dollars promoting the existing 992 bus route. I regularly take the 992 bus to the airport, and it is easier than any of the trolley-based options sound. However, this bus line appears to be one of San Diego's best kept secrets. I am not aware of any signage for the "bus to the airport" at the Amtrak station, America Plaza or any other transit hub. The bus is rarely even half full. Let's try promoting the existing resources and see how that works. There are all kinds of better expenditures of public money than an unneeded trolly connection to the airport.

TomT
TomT

Before spending "a few million dollars" for a bridge, or "more than a few million dollars" on a new terminal, it seems to make more sense to spend a few thousand dollars promoting the existing 992 bus route. I regularly take the 992 bus to the airport, and it is easier than any of the trolley-based options sound. However, this bus line appears to be one of San Diego's best kept secrets. I am not aware of any signage for the "bus to the airport" at the Amtrak station, America Plaza or any other transit hub. The bus is rarely even half full. Let's try promoting the existing resources and see how that works. There are all kinds of better expenditures of public money than an unneeded trolly connection to the airport.