San Diego’s Expensive Mid-City Bus Rapid Transit Route is Slower than Previous Route
According to an analysis conducted by inewsource, San Diego’s bus rapid route (Mid-City Rapid 215 route) from San Diego State University to downtown is slower than average compared to the route it replaced. Federal and local taxes paid $44 million to change the route and the city plans to spend more money to create dedicated bus lanes to improve the route’s average time. The city will spend around $97,000 to create the bus lanes on El Cajon Boulevard. Despite the 215 route being slower, it did manage to increase ridership and the frequency of trips. In 2018, annual ridership on the 215 route increased almost 30% compared to the last full year of the route being replaced, which was 2014. Haney Hong, president and CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, stated the following regarding the route change,
What I think is a shame is that we spend a lot of time and, frankly, a lot of taxpayer dollars into planning projects, and then what happens is they get changed in all sorts of different ways. The original plan was for there to be dedicated bus lanes so that this could be a rapid, rapid route. And if the plan had come to fruition as it was designed, it would do the very thing that it was supposed to do.
What were some of the largest expenses from the $44 million? About $16.4 million was spent on 18 tandem buses that can carry more riders and make access for boarding easier. Construction of 20 bus stations and one-mile of dedicated lanes on Park Boulevard cost $20.4 million. The engineering and design of the bus rapid transit route cost $3.9 million. The new $97,000 pilot project will create dedicated bus lanes that will run next to parked vehicles for 2.7 miles in each direction from Fairmount Avenue to Park Boulevard. Hopefully this new project will solve the route’s issues and this becomes a lesson for other cities that want to improve bus routes.