Future of transit in the works

    In an effort to provide transportation alternatives, several transit projects are currently being designed to give way to transit systems that will affect UCSD and surrounding areas.

    Courtesy of Metropolitan Transit Development Board

    These projects are part of the Mid-Coast Transit First study that analyzes and recommends transportation improvements. The study, which began in January 2002, also includes transit plans and projects that support circulation and operational improvements.

    “”Through a combination of data analysis and public input, the current Mid-Coast Transit First will produce a phased, comprehensive 20-plus year action plan,”” said Christine Rychel, project manager for MTDB .

    On May 22, the Metropolitan Transit and Development Board pushed forward the creation of three recommended projects by pledging its support. The projects include the Super Loop, an extended bus service, and the implementation of the rapid transit system.

    The internal circulation system called the Super Loop will provide a local circulator route similar to the UCSD City Shuttle. This system provides roadway improvements and priority lanes for vehicles that are smaller and more flexible than traditional buses.

    The Super Loop system will use priority treatments that might include queue jump lanes, transit only lanes and special stages at the signal for transit phases. The system will be focused around major activity centers in the Golden Triangle including UTC, future Nobel Coaster Station and UCSD.

    According to Clifton Walker, legislative analyst for the office of Councilman Scott Peters, the Super Loop project will move people around the Golden Triangle.

    “”Traffic studies have shown that improving internal circulation of this area could take as many as 50 percent of the car trips in the area off the streets,”” Walker said. “”This would dramatically reduce traffic.””

    The Super Loop project has also received support from several groups and students from the community. According to John Muir College senior Jeremy Bamberger, who helped with petitions in support of the projects, student support was essential in helping to push forward the transit projects.

    “”I feel that this addition to public transportation will largely benefit the traffic and parking situation on campus, benefiting those with and without personal vehicles,”” Bamberger said.

    Environmental and preliminary engineering work on the Super Loop is currently underway. The transit system is expected to open December 2006.

    One project currently in review that could affect campus is the development of the Light Rail Transit system.

    There are four proposed alignments that could run through campus with either one or two stations. According to Milton Phegley of campus planning, the more feasible two-station alignment would provide a west campus station in Pepper Canyon and a second station on east campus.

    “”UCSD still supports a two-station alternative and believes that increased mass transit service should be provided to the campus as soon as possible,”” Phegley said.

    The MTDB and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) are still studying potential alignments. Once the SANDAG Transportation Committee selects and endorses a preferred alignment, further preliminary planning and engineering work can continue.

    “”This is important because once there is a preferred alignment, then UCSD and the community can begin to strongly advocate for a particular project rather than an unknown alignment,”” Phegley said.

    However, according to Walker, the trolley and other fixed-rail services can run from $50 million to $100 million per mile to build. Another project also in design is the express bus rapid transit system that will provide further alternatives for commuters in the Sorrento Mesa and University City areas.

    “”Bus rapid transit can be built for hundreds of thousands of dollars to several million dollars per mile,”” Walker said. “”The huge savings would allow for a larger network and not just a single line.””

    The bus rapid transit system will run from the South Bay, along the I-805 to University City and Sorrento Mesa. There are also plans to upgrade and extend existing routes serving the UCSD/UTC area. The expanded bus system would use an express transit vehicle in areas such as Carmel Valley, La Jolla and Rancho Penasquitos and connect into the Super Loop system.

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