SAN DIEGO — Large crowds are expected in the Gaslamp District as hundreds gather to celebrate New Year’s Eve and the start of 2023.

With that in mind, local agencies are working together to help ensure San Diegans can celebrate the New Year safely.

San Diego Police Department said it will have increased patrols on New Year’s Eve.

“Downtown San Diego on New Year’s Eve is wild,” Councilmember Stephen Whitburn said. “But we want everyone who comes downtown and has a good time to be sure to get home safely.”

That’s why the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and the North County Transit District (NCTD) plan to offer free rides after 6 p.m. and extended late-night service on New Year’s Eve, extending into the early morning of New Year’s Day in some locations. All rides will be free on all MTS buses and Trolleys, and NCTD’s Coaster, Sprinter, Breeze, Flex and Lift services.

CalTrans will have light-up message boards to encourage drivers to not drive impaired.

“There is no excuse, none, for anyone to be driving impaired this weekend, especially with all of the available options,” Public Information Officer Jacob Sanchez with the California Highway Patrol said.

While New Year’s Eve is a busy night for law enforcement and rideshare services, it is a boon for the local economy. According to the San Diego Tourism Authority, Saturday night is already the busiest night of the week for local hotels and since New Year’s Eve falls on a Saturday this year, it is anticipated to be even bigger. Plus, many people are gathering more this year than the last several years due to the pandemic.

“It is great for our small businesses, great for our hotels, great for tourism industry,” Whitburn said. “Also great for the taxpayers.”

In addition to the free rides, the transit agencies are offering extended late-night services to the following lines on New Year’s Eve:

Trolley service from 12th and Imperial

Green Line:

  • Last train to Santee departs at 2:06 a.m.

UC San Diego Blue Line

  • Last train southbound to San Ysidro departs at 2:37 a.m.
  • Last train northbound to UTC departs at 2:08 a.m. 

 Orange Line

  • Last train eastbound from Downtown Courthouse to Arnele Ave. Station departs at 2:15 a.m.

NCTD Coaster service from downtown San Diego:

  • Extra southbound train to depart Oceanside Transit Center at 10:36 p.m.
  • Last northbound train to depart Santa Fe Depot at 1:20 a.m.

NCTD Sprinter service between Oceanside and Escondido:

  • Extra trips departing Oceanside Transit Center at 12:33 a.m., 1:33 a.m., and 2:33 a.m.
  • Extra trips departing Escondido Transit Center at 11:33 p.m., 12:33 a.m., and 1:33 a.m.

MTS is offering a Friends Ride Free promotion on New Year’s Day, allowing fare-paying adults to bring one guest on board with them for no extra cost on Jan. 1. Anyone under 18 can ride for free daily with a Youth Opportunity Pass.

You can check the holiday service schedules on the MTS and NCTD websites.

“Taking public transit is a safe way to get to and from your New Year’s Eve destination,” said a quote attributed to NCTD Vice Chair Priya Bhat-Patel. “Not only is transit free after 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, but we’ve added service to give you more options to get to your celebration safely.”