New Trolley Routes May Serve UCSD

An in-the-works proposal to bring the San Diego trolley system to UCSD has narrowed down three possible routes, and could be completed by 2016, according to Director of UCSD Physical and Community Planning Brad Werdick.

The prospect first arose in 2004 when San Diego’s Regional Planning Agency suggested extending the current trolley system from the Old Town Transit Center to the UCSD area, through University Towne Center, Old Town and downtown San Diego.

Since then, SANDAG has been mapping the area to determine an optimal route for the extension.

The SANDAG Transportation Committee will make an official presentation to the its board of directors on April 16, who will then vote on which routes they would want to pursue. During a 30-day scoping period May 3 through June 1, 2010, the public will be able to give feedback on the routes.

The project would extend either the trolley or a light-rail transit service 11 miles north of its starting point at the Old Town Transit Center to one of three proposed stations at Tecolote Road, Clairemont Drive or Balboa Avenue.

The extension would run north to UCSD along I-5 from Gilman Drive, and then follow Voigt Drive and Genesee Avenue to a final station at UTC.

Other alternatives are also being explored.

According to SANDAG spokeswoman Anne Steinberger, one possible route from Voigt Drive to UTC is along Regents Road and Executive Drive; another possibility is along Genesee Avenue.

Stations have also been proposed at University Center Lane, UCSD West, UCSD East, Executive Drive and the UTC Transit Center are all proposed stations.

Werdick said the project has the potential to improve public-transportation services and reduce traffic congestion.

“Students, staff and faculty are hesitant to take buses — and frankly, a lot of the routes coming to campus are not the most direct routes,” Werdick said. “The trolley would open up a new alternative transportation method on campus which [is] going to be a lot more attractive.”

San Diego’s trolley line, called the Mid-Coast Corridor Project, was first suggested in 1987 and then officially created when San Diego voters residents voted in November 2004 to include the initiative in an existing half-cent transportation tax called TransNet.

“The region has set this as a transportation priority,” Steinberger said.

TransNet, implemented in 1988, will fund 50 percent of the project’s estimated $1.2 billion cost.

According to its Web site, SANDAG officials believe that the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program — which funds fixed guideway systems such as light-rail systems — will fund the remaining 50 percent.

According to Assistant Vice Chancellor of UCSD Strategic Campus Resource Initiatives Brian Gregory, the trolley system would reduce the number of cars on campus emissions and the need to build expensive parking structures.

He added that the trolley would allow students to travel to and from campus, and to other areas, more conveniently.

“It will benefit UCSD because it will give us options for the UCSD community to get to the campus, and then to go [to] other places from the campus,” Gregory said.

Muir College sophomore Amber Elsaad said she would not benefit from the trolley.

“I probably wouldn’t use it,” Elsaad said. “I’ve tried taking the bus downtown, and public transportation just takes too long.”

If the recommendations are approved, SANDAG will hold a conference at UCSD to gather feedback on possible routes.

“UCSD has the opportunity to be very involved in this and contribute to expanding transit to the UCSD campus,” Steinberger said.

Ticket pricing for the route has not yet been set.

Readers can contact Sarah Smith at [email protected].

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