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Metropolitan Transit System Will Expand Bus, Trolley Services As Economy Reopens

A Blue Line MTS Trolley train in Barrio Logan, San Diego, Feb. 21, 2018.

Credit: Matt Hoffman

Above: A Blue Line MTS Trolley train in Barrio Logan, San Diego, Feb. 21, 2018.

The Metropolitan Transit System announced Thursday it will begin increasing bus and trolley services as the economy continues to reopen.

MTS will increase weekday midday service on the UC San Diego Blue Line beginning Monday, followed by service increases on dozens of bus routes in late June.

"As we continue the regional reopening of our economy, we know more people will need the services that MTS provides. We want people to know that San Diego's transit system will continue to be a safe and reliable option as possible," said MTS Board Chair Nathan Fletcher. "We've strengthened our already-enhanced sanitizing protocols on vehicles and at stations and implemented policies to better protect our passengers and employees. We are now increasing service to help reliability and allow for greater physical distancing of passengers."

Beginning Monday, the UC San Diego Blue Line trolley — which connects the San Ysidro international border to downtown San Diego — will increase its service frequency to every 7 1/2 minutes from 4:30 a.m. until 7 p.m., and keep 15-minute frequencies until 9 p.m., followed by every 30 minutes until the end of the service day.

RELATED: Trump's Tweet Shines Light on Metropolitan Transit System CARES Funding

Weekday ridership on the Blue Line plummeted 69% between February 24 and April 20, from 63,715 daily riders to just 19,787. Since April 20, average weekday ridership has increased 28%, topping out at 25,367 the week of June 1. More frequency will give more opportunity for passengers to practice social distancing on board and on platforms when possible. Service on the Orange Line and Sycuan Green Line will remain unchanged.

While trolley service will first be increasing to closely mirror pre- COVID-19 levels, MTS is also making preparations to increase bus service in the coming weeks. Schedules and routes are being finalized. The goal is to provide service increases that meet market demands. MTS reduced weekday service levels approximately 25% on April 13 to address record-low ridership while still providing critical service for essential workers and trips.

In addition to service increases, MTS says it also continues to improve its already-strict safety and sanitizing protocols. The latest development on that front is retrofitting buses with germ barriers to better protect bus operators. Barriers will also allow the agency to return to front- door boarding, which gives passengers more room in which to spread out. MTS has only allowed rear-door boarding since April 1 to protect the health of bus operators.

MTS continues to operate about 95 bus routes and three trolley lines. Frequencies and spans have been modified due to COVID-19. Updated schedules can be accessed on the MTS website. MTS asks that people wear face coverings and practice physical distancing at all times.

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