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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.

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Comments

Visduh April 19, 2013 @ 8:57 a.m.

Talk of spending $214 billion (that's with a "b" folks) between now and 2050, sounds good, but where will it come from? This economy we now have cannot support such grandiose plans. These governmental planners keep talking about buses as the solution to overcrowded freeways and the need for people to have cars regardless of their ability to afford them sounds great. But, it has been my observation that in So Cal, the middle class just will NOT ride buses. No matter how cheap and convenient, the upper strata of our society just will not consider riding them. (Now, go to San Francisco, and they do use the public transit system, and it works for everybody.) While I respect Duncan McFetridge for all that he has done over the years, I'm not sure that he's on the mark this time. I object to the notion that mass transit of the public kind can be bought for the price of some buses and fancier bus stations (i.e. "hubs".) If it were that easy, we would have had such bus lines years ago, and they would be packed with riders. The point that much of this spending is back loaded is a good one. The improvements, whatever they are, need to start now, not a decade or two or three from now. And they really, really need to be things that work. What people SHOULD do as far as commuting is often not what they actually do. Doubt that? How many car commuters actually share the ride? Darned few, and yet that would do more for our overcrowded streets, highways and freeways than all this planning.

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Founder April 19, 2013 @ 12:38 p.m.

Yet another make work project for all those in planning and development on yet another project that will be outdated before it is even partially built!

Case in point, I attended rapid transit meeting for a proposed Mid-City route along El Cajon Blvd. and they were not even planning for a huge increase in ridership by people using mobility scooters (whose price s dropping while their availability is increasing! All these folks getting on and off will take a long time to mount and dismount themselves, which will take the high speed out of the equation.

What would make far better sense is building a VERY high speed elevated monorail/above ground "subway", that would be able to really zoom along, above the existing roadway, not yet adding more surface traffic to our highways! If gasoline and diesel fuel prices continue to rise then far lees people will be commuting anywhere and that will increase the number of people that will be working from home instead of driving themselves to work or sitting on a glorified bus next to some stinky street person that spends their day traveling from end to end looking for handouts!

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Visduh April 19, 2013 @ 9:04 p.m.

I'd forgotten about that Mid-City route with its special lanes and all the other folderol. It is just a typical example of one of those fast bus plans that doesn't really help. Whether it is more riders on scooters, or more congestion on the streets in question, those buses will probably--at best--average only one or two mph faster than the current ones. Special lanes or no, buses can only go about so fast, and that isn't very fast at all.

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