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Quality of Life

San Diego Transit Stations Get Poor Grades

People are shown walking into a low-floor trolley on Jan. 27, 2015.
Metropolitan Transit System
People are shown walking into a low-floor trolley on Jan. 27, 2015.

San Diego Transit Stations Get Poor Grades
A new report looks at how well California's transit stations serve their communities and San Diego's stations rank below their peers in other large California cities.

San Diego's transit stations got a poor review in a statewide survey measuring how well the stations encourage ridership.

The report from the non-partisan group Next 10 finds the local transit station system doesn't do a good job of serving neighborhoods that can exploit transit.


The study examined how transit stations serve people and communities. Stations that serve walkable communities with lots of nearby homes and businesses got the best scores, according to the report.

Busy transit hubs mean a neighborhood is vibrant and the system is taking in more money.

"There's a huge market demand for these kind of communities. And I think the real challenge is our policy makers are not putting in place the kinds of policies to allow this type of development to take place," said Ethan Elkind, associate director of the Climate Change and Business program at the UC Berkeley Center for Law, Energy and the Environment.

San Diego's 12th and Imperial Transit Center and the Civic Center stop got the region's best score, according to the study, but most of the region's transit centers scored poorly. Eight stations got failing marks. That includes the Gillespie Field Station, which got the lowest marks of any transit station in the state. It is located in a car-dependent area.

"So the challenge, as the data shows in San Diego, is you don't have a lot people within the half mile area who are using transit," Elkind said. "You don't have a lot of walkable neighborhoods in that half mile radius. And you don't have a lot of jobs and homes that are really clustered around the rail transit network."


The highest local grade among the region's 57 stations was a B. The average grade for the region was C minus.

The Metropolitan Transit System released a statement that said the scorecard was narrow in scope, designed to support high-density neighborhoods and transit-oriented development. The criteria used is largely outside the control of MTS, according to the agency.

The statement pointed out that an all-time high of more than 40 million passenger trips were logged on the trolley in the fiscal year completed June 30.

Corrected: July 18, 2024 at 12:31 AM PDT
City News Service contributed to this report.