It’s finally here: San Diego debuts trolley extension with 9 new stops

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SAN DIEGO — Opening day has finally arrived for San Diego’s major trolley line extension, with riders stopping at nine new stations on the UC San Diego Blue Line for the first time early Sunday.

The new route makes the Blue Line a “one-seat” ride from the U.S.-Mexico border to La Jolla and University City, with stops in downtown and new stations dotting the busy Mid-Coast corridor along Interstate 5.

You can view a map of the extended Blue Line and check trolley schedules on the MTS website.

The extension’s “maiden trip” happened at 5:03 a.m. Sunday, with a few dozen passengers trying out the line, according to the Metropolitan Transit System. The first commuter rides will begin around 5:30 a.m. Monday.

Built by SANDAG for trolleys operated by MTS, the 11-mile extension took over five years and cost more than $2 billion to complete. The new stations are located at Tecolote Road, Clairemont Drive, Balboa Avenue, Nobel Drive, VA Medical Center, UC San Diego Central Campus, UC San Diego Health La Jolla, Executive Drive and the UTC transit center.

“Think about the population, the students that come and go to school here,” said Jim Linthicum, chief of capital programs for the San Diego Association of Governments. “They will be able to live a little bit further away and just get there on the trolley. It’s such an opportunity for workers and students – the 40,000 students that are going to be coming to UC San Diego over the next couple of years.”

Trips on MTS trolleys will be free for all riders on any line throughout the day Sunday to celebrate the occasion, with transportation officials encouraging people to take a no-cost ride over to their grand opening event near UC San Diego.

“This is going to be a gamechanger, because you see all the traffic and when you take the trolley, you actually sail over the freeway and you can see everyone waiting in traffic where you are just going right where you need to be,” said Sharon Cooney, CEO of the MTS.

Sunday’s free ride offer does not apply to MTS bus trips. An updated list of service changes is available online.

SANDAG and MTS’ grand opening celebration will feature free food, live music, merchandise giveaways, activities for kids — including face painting and a rock climbing wall — and addresses from public officials Sunday. It will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the new UC San Diego Central Campus location. Attendees can ride to that station free of charge and then follow signs to the celebration.

The event isn’t ticketed, but MTS is asking people to RSVP online so they have an accurate idea of expected turnout. Face masks are required on the trolley and recommended at the grand opening event, MTS said. Residents were asked to leave pets at home.

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