By: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director
San Diego's transit agency, MTS, last June significantly upgraded the Escondido-Downtown San Diego transportation corridor with "One Sweet Ride," a rapid express service with buses running every 30 minutes from early morning until late night up and down the corridor with expanded peak hour frequencies and additional premium limited stop commuter express runs. Until the BRT express upgrades took place, transit services were primarily rush-hour oriented with a number of limited stop commuter express routes and a local-plus express regional connector dubbed MTS Route 20 between Del Lago and Downtown; getting in between Escondido, downtown and major points in between during off-peak hours had required many stops with transfers. Not anymore.
San Diego's BRT express provided for a quick and speedy alternative to get up and down the I-15 corridor. According to MTS and my field study, the rapid express line has many features one can expect from BRT service. That includes traffic signal priority, use of the I-15 Express Lanes, direct access ramps, and limited stops. Unlike some BRT services where tickets are purchased at the station, Route 235 fares are paid on board, similar to local bus fare collection. In addition, the bus features comfortable, cushioned seats.
This bus pretty much mimics the Foothill Transit Silver Streak and Metro Silver Line rapid express lines in Los Angeles. It's pretty much San Diego's version of LA's robust El Monte Busway services. Both corridors currently use high occupancy toll lanes as infrastructure with the El Monte system starting as a dedicated busway in 1973 and going through a number of usage changes over its successful 41 year history.
|Photo: San Diego MTS|
|This interesting rapid transit station is part of a general purpose freeway interchange overpass with the Rapid Express Route 235 stops situated in between the right and left turn lanes at each offramp.|
Like the El Monte Busway and I-15 Express Lanes, have Riverside and San Bernardino County officials thought of including direct access ramps and transit infrastructure into Inland Empire toll lane projects? Have the elected officials explored these proven solutions for quick and easy BRT access between the planned express lanes and nearby transit stations so that we too can have efficient rapid express bus service on top of the expanded commuter services?
For starters, we need to figure out how to better link both the Corona Transit Center and the Village at Orange transfer hub with the HOT lane infrastructure so that the buses don't have to do extensive backtracking. We invite elected Inland officials to check out San Diego's rapid transit system.
For the record: The writer has defined the regular runs of the freeway-oriented BRT services as "Rapid Express" and the limited stop commuter runs as "premium limited stop commuter express runs". San Diego MTS defines the regular all-day runs of the I-15 Express Lanes BRT services as "Rapid" Route 235 and the peak-hour limited stop commuter express runs as "Rapid Express".