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Walter Mencken 2 p.m., May 28
The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), in conjunction with the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) has announced plans within the next year to roll out a major expansion of the MTS Bus Rapid Transit system, connecting the I-15 corridor, Mid-City neighborhoods, and the South Bay to transit hubs downtown.
SANDAG and MTS say the system “will provide a faster, more comfortable, and more reliable transit experience, making it attractive for commuters to leave their cars behind” in a recent release touting the program and announcing a meeting to take place today (April 19) discussing the four downtown hubs to be established for the bus service at a cost of $24 million, to come from the overall $214 billion budget for SANDAG’s Regional Transit Plan that is to guide regional transportation growth through 2050.
Hold on, says the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, which has voiced opposition to the plan since its release.
“[Bus Rapid Transit] and expanded freeway transportation have been proven to produce the exact opposite of all of these claims because they promote sprawl land use which is inherently auto based,” says Foundation executive director Duncan McFetridge. “Thus, every claim [made in SANDAG’s release] is absolutely false. Does BRT increase bike and walk mode share in our urban core? No. Does BRT improve air quality? No. Does BRT improve transit based land use in urban areas? No. Does BRT and expanded freeways mean fewer cars? No.”
The Foundation instead has pushed to accelerate the Plan’s proposed spending on transit so that most of it occurs during the first few years, rather than toward the end. They contend that such a change would encourage more urban development rather than continuing suburban sprawl, thus having a greater net environmental benefit and negating some of the need for a continually expanding freeway system.
Their representative Jack Shu is scheduled to address SANDAG at today’s meeting to voice the group’s position.
“The main message I have for SANDAG is that they should not be implementing any new projects bases on a RTP which has been shown to be a failure,” Shu tells the Reader. “We cannot afford to continue to make bad choices with the limited funds we have available for transit systems”
Shu says expanding light rail service makes more sense in the long run than adding long-distance bus lines (“What public transportation system is doing all the heavy lifting during a Padres game or an event at Qualcomm?”), and is asking for a public meeting to be held to discuss the Foundation’s alternative 50-10 Plan to front-load transit spending in the RTP.