SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – The Metropolitan Transit System on Tuesday launched a new South Bay Rapid service line.
The route will begin with limited service during morning and evening commute hours between the East Palomar Transit Station and downtown San Diego until it opens fully next year. The full route will feature a dozen stops across 26 miles with service extending from downtown to the new Otay Mesa Port of Entry.
"We are happy to welcome the South Bay Rapid to Chula Vista," said Mayor Mary Casillas Salas. "This is the eighth route added to the Rapid system, which helps residents, commuters, students and visitors get where they need to go quickly and easily throughout the San Diego region."
South Bay residents, however, are expressing mixed feelings about a new bus route. Eventually, the transit line will stretch all the way to the border and pass directly by Hedenkamp Elementary. The four lane road will be expanded to six lanes – with two bus lanes down the middle. Construction of the lanes is not expected to be complete until next year.
Parents said they are concerned that traffic while picking up their children from school will only get worse.
Last year, parents like Victor Gallardo asked SANDAG and city leaders to reconsider the project. “We definitely pushed for different results, but we did not get them.”
Students also expressed their opposition to the project, but in the end, construction moved forward.
Gallardo now drives to pick up his kids, even though he lives nearby because he said walking has become too dangerous. “Unfortunately for us, we have to take the burden for it.”
Salas and MTS board member Mona Rios were joined by county Supervisor Greg Cox and Caltrans District 11 Director Cory Binns at the launch ceremony and celebration.
"The suite of Rapid options has been widely successful. They have quickly become the most popular routes in the system," Rios said. "South Bay Rapid is an affirmation that a new era of transit is in front of South Bay residents."
Limited-route service will run weekdays from 5 to 8 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. with departures every 15 minutes during both windows. MTS is offering free rides on the new route through Friday to encourage riders to use it.
Rapid services feature limited stops and dedicated lanes on certain routes that improve travel times. The Rapid program is funded via TransNet, a voter-approved half-cent tax that funds transportation projects around San Diego.