By Marinee Zavala
San Diego authorities have selected Tuesdays as the centerpiece for a campaign aimed at getting more people to use transit, thus contributing to the use of clean energy and avoiding traffic during rush hour.
Using the hashtag ‘#TransitTuesday’, on July 24 the Metropolitan Transit System together with the City of San Diego started giving out coffee, pastries, and small giveaways to all riders at the Sabre Springs Transit Center, an area with 200,000 residents, many of whom commute from Carmel Mountain Ranch, Rancho Penasquitos, and Poway to downtown San Diego using Rapid Transit buses.
“We did it together with the City of San Diego. The idea behind Transit Tuesday (Transita en martes, in Spanish) is to encourage people to give public transit a chance at least once a week, and if that’s on Tuesday thanks to this initiative, so much the better,” said Marcial Gutierrez, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS).
The two routes targeted serve north and east county, providing rapid and express service with fancier highway coaches. The Rapid 290 Express starts running at 5:15 a.m. from Sabre Springs to Downtown, while the Rapid 235 travels from Escondido to Downtown.
County transit authorities shared that each of these buses has an average capacity of 50 riders who would otherwise ride in their own cars, adding 50 vehicles per busload to freeway traffic. They also highlighted that, although the service costs a bit more, it is much more comfortable, including reclinable seats and individual reading lights.
“Using transit is always more efficient. These buses use special lanes such as the carpool or express lanes and avoid traffic, and more people can travel in a single unit,” added Gutierrez.
Most of the people who use these buses agreed that although the service costs more versus a conventional bus, which costs $2.50, getting to their destinations more effectively makes up the difference.
Single fare for Rapid buses is $5, and a Day Pass costs $12. They run during peak hours in San Diego county, such as 5 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., when a majority of residents have left work for the day and are headed home.
Earlier this month, MTS also announced changes to heavily used routes, such as in National City.
San Diego transit services generate 88 million trips per year. That is, 300,000 trips per day with a fleet of 128 trolleys and 800 buses to meet the demand, according to budget data for fiscal year 2018.
The Transit System’s jurisdiction encompasses 570 square miles in urban San Diego County, in addition to rural areas in East County, for a total of 3,240 square miles serving approximately 3 million residents.