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MTS to increase bus, trolley frequencies with influx of state transit funding

The Metropolitan Transit System is planning a host of service improvements, including an overnight express bus from the San Ysidro border crossing, thanks to an influx of transit funding from the state government.

State lawmakers this year approved SB 125, which provided more than $5 billion in one-time funding to help the state's public transit agencies recover from the ridership losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The MTS board of directors on Dec. 14 approved a plan for how the agency will spend its share of roughly $284 million.

Among the projects is a $26 million rehabilitation of the Orange Line trolley corridor, which needs new overhead wiring, switches and signals to bring it into a state of good repair. MTS also plans to spend $46 million through 2029 to build out charging infrastructure for its growing fleet of electric buses.


MTS originally planned to phase in most of the increased bus frequencies by summer 2025 in order to give the agency more time to hire its way out of a bus driver shortage. But board members asked staff to explore accelerating that timeline to implement the changes by summer 2024.

Manny Rodriguez, transportation and planning program manager for the City Heights Community Development Corporation, said the added bus services will help make public transit faster and more competitive with driving.

"Here in City Heights, for example, the 1, 7, 10, 215 and 235 buses will be seeing increased frequencies and increased hours of operations," Rodriguez said. "That means less waiting for the bus, and that you can use the bus earlier in the morning and later at night."

Once the package of improvements is in full effect, all three trolley lines will have trains running more often:

  • 15-minute frequencies on the Orange, Green and Blue Lines will be extended to the weekends and early morning and late night hours, when trains currently come every half hour
  • 7.5-minute frequencies on the Blue Line will run the entire route from the border to University City. Currently, that peak-hour service operates only between the border and downtown, forcing passengers heading further north to disembark and transfer at America Plaza.

The additional service that got the most attention at the MTS board meeting was a new overnight express bus from the San Ysidro border crossing to downtown San Diego.

"The Blue Line trolley does not run 24/7, so having this border connection is crucial for early morning workers and late night workers to make it to and from downtown to make their living," Rodriguez said.