JUNE 24, 2019 1:35 PM
The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System has scheduled public forums on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to hear from residents about what upgrades they would like to see as part of a 2020 ballot initiative to raise taxes for bus and rail upgrades.
If voters approve the half-cent sales tax increase it could double the agency’s $300 million annual budget and allow buses and trolleys to run later and more frequently. Officials are also exploring a new ferry service that would operate in San Diego Bay between Chula Vista, Coronado and San Diego International Airport.
Ridership numbers have fallen in recent years, from as much as 90.6 million boardings in 2008, down to 85.4 million last year. Buses with so-called Rapid service— which connect areas such as Rancho Bernardo and Chula Vista to job centers with few local stops — have been the exception.
Officials are now considering expanding Rapid services to capitalize on their popularity with a focus on dedicated lanes.
MTS staff are planning to give presentations on potential transit improvements, answer questions and record feedback from attendees. The MTS campaign is dubbed Elevate SD 2020. More information can be found at elevatesd2020.com.
The San Diego Association of Governments is also considering going to voters for a tax increase sometime after 2020 to pay for hundreds of miles of high-speed commuter rail. The regional planning agency’s vision is something akin to the Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, system that serves San Francisco, two airports and surrounding cities.
SANDAG officials had hoped that MTS would focus on building out their network in future years. However, MTS officials have stated they’re more interested in projects that will deliver immediate improvements in existing transit operations.