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Critics: San Diego International Airport Needs Local Transit Connections

Lindbergh Field is pictured in this undated photo.

Credit: Flickr

Above: Lindbergh Field is pictured in this undated photo.

The San Diego International Airport Authority is coming under fire for planning a major expansion of Terminal One, without planning better ways to get there by public transit.

The Airport Authority plans to increase the number of gates at Terminal One from 19 to 30 in the next five years. The environmental impact report for the $3 billion project includes major investments in new flyovers and expanded parking lots to mitigate traffic on Harbor Drive, but little to create easier connections to existing public transit.

For example, passengers using the Coaster and the nearby trolley line from to reach the airport have to carry luggage across roads to catch buses that are inadequately signed.

Colin Parent is executive director of Circulate San Diego.

“This is not an airport far away in the suburbs and unconnected to transit,” he said. “The main trolley line in the region is just to the east of the airport — it’s a relatively easy connection.”

Photo credit: San Diego County

An artist's rendering shows a skyway gondola, proposed by San Diego County, to link the convention center to the airport, September 2018.

San Diego County recently suggested airborne gondolas to get to the airport. Parent said there are simpler and cheaper options.

“My guess is that the most simple solution is going to be the best solution, and that means extending the existing network that we have, like the trolley and the bus," he said.

Parent said other airports use automated people movers, which could operate on airport land already used by buses, and connect the train lines to the airport terminals.

Photo credit: Circulate San Diego

Proposed route of an automated people mover to connect the train and trolley station with San Diego International Airport, September 2018.

“One thing that really does need to happen in the immediate term," Parent said, "is the airport has to be willing to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to be willing to be a partner on this.' Not just in terms of planning the connection that needs to go on airport property, but also for the airport to be willing to pay for its fair share of a connection like this.”

The Airport Authority plans to complete the expansion of Terminal One by 2023 but must address public concerns before approving the EIR.

The San Diego International Airport Authority is coming under fire for planning a major expansion of Terminal One, without planning better ways to get there by public transit.

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