Trolley extension a pittance of what’s needed
Re: “A new ride” [Volume 10, Issue 11]
Read your article on the proposed new Blue Line trolley that will service the UCSD and the UTC area and want to comment. My wife and I live in Mission Valley and I often use the Green Line trolley to get to downtown for my work assignments. I am happy that MTS has decided to expand trolley service to a much-needed area of the city and county.
That being said, I have been very disappointed with the public transportation options here in San Diego. I have lived, and worked, in many cities in the U.S., as well as around the world, and quite frankly, find San Diego to be behind the times when it comes to serving the public transportation needs of its citizens. In my opinion this is because of several reasons. Please allow me to explain them.
First, the city and county are controlled by development interests. While they tout their developments as being “transportation oriented,” in reality this is just marketing and so much drivel. No one that spends between $600,000 upwards to a million dollars for a home — the going rate for new housing in the area — is going to take public transportation, at least on any kind of regular basis. I have seen developers send out news releases saying their housing projects are near trolley and bus lines when these supposed lines are only in the planning processes, may or may not be built, and if indeed they are built, will not be in service for 10 or 20 years, or even later.
Look at the Civita monstrosity being built off of Friars Road here in Mission Valley. The developer, Sudberry, advertised that homeowners could hop on the Green Line Trolley at the Hazard Center Station and enjoy food and drink in the Gaslamp district Downtown. Hell, most of the current Civita residents can’t even walk across the street to get groceries at Ralph’s. They drive. Does anyone think that they would walk the three to four blocks to the Hazard Center Station to take a trolley? Then have to mingle with the kind of demographics of those that do use the trolley?
Do you know why there has been no decent public transportation, including a trolley line, to the airport? The reason is because developers want the airport moved to another area of the county so they can build overpriced housing there. A trolley line just takes up valuable space, is a nuisance, noisy, and certainly doesn’t fit the needs of those that would spend the kind of money these developments require. Look at the fuss caused by those that live in the expensive high-rises next to the Green Line trolley and railroad tracks. The lines were installed way before the buildings were put up, yet the residents complain about the noise from the trolley and train horns as well as the gates.
Then there is the state of affairs with our current trolley and bus lines schedules. I’m very familiar with the Green Line. Do you know that the last Green Line trolley to leave Downtown for areas east, such as Mission Valley, is about 11:30 p.m.? If you work Downtown and take the trolley to work, you better get off before 11:30 p.m. or it’s an expensive cab or Uber ride home. So much for all the people that work at Downtown restaurants and hotels and can’t afford the high-priced housing Downtown. The Civita advertising that you can hop on the trolley and enjoy the Gaslamp? Well you’d better have last call about 11 p.m. or you’re out of luck taking the trolley back to your “transit-oriented” home.
There has been much talk around here about getting people out of their vehicles and using alternative means of transportation, but I believe that it is just that — a lot of talk. Look at SANDAG’s recent proposals on transportation in the county. Most of it concerns widening the freeway system and very little is about public transportation. Yes, we have some movement in the area of public transportation as the extension of the Blue Line proves, but it is meager in regards to what the area needs.
Finally, I would bet that those officials in the photo accompanying your article don’t take public transportation themselves, but it’s a good photo op.
—Stuart Rachmuth, Mission Valley