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Changes To MTS Bus Routes Begin Sunday

A bus stop for the 60 and 235 MTS buses is seen here, Jan. 24, 2018.

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: A bus stop for the 60 and 235 MTS buses is seen here, Jan. 24, 2018.

The first set of planned changes to dozens of MTS bus routes goes into effect next week, with transportation planners hoping the adjustments will buck a trend of falling ridership.

Schedules and travel routes of more than 50 bus lines will change starting Sunday. Several routes are getting increased frequency to help meet demand for the most popular routes.

The Rapid 235 bus, which connects Escondido with downtown San Diego via the Interstate-15 freeway, enjoys one of the highest ridership rates in the system. The route logged more than 1.5 million passenger trips in 2016. Starting Monday its weekday midday service will increase from every 30 minutes to every 15 minutes.

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National University student Trang Le rides the bus every day, and said the increased frequency on the 235 bus would save her time. A delay of just a few minutes on one bus can cause her to miss a connection, she said, which sometimes means waiting another half hour.

"But if it will be 15 minutes, then that will be great," Le said.

The goal of the overhaul is to improve the system's efficiency, connectivity and reliability. MTS spokesman Rob Schupp said the changes were based on ridership data and feedback from customers, who said overwhelmingly that increased bus frequencies would make their trips easier.

"We're really increasing the number of routes that have high frequency," he said. "So that means you don't need a schedule. You go out to the corner, and if you just miss the bus, another one's going to come along in 10 minutes."

Video by Matthew Bowler

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MTS, like many other transit agencies around the country, has observed a decline in ridership over the past several years. The stakes are arguably higher in San Diego, however, because the city's legally binding Climate Action Plan expects a massive increase in transit ridership over the next two decades. Pollution from cars and trucks are the region's biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The increased bus services are being paid for with cuts to less popular bus routes and with funding from SB 1, the state gas tax and vehicle increase passed by lawmakers last year.

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