Trolley extension to airport is feasible, study finds

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SAN DIEGO — A trolley to the San Diego International Airport could soon be in the works.

A preliminary feasibility study found that such an extension is feasible and can be built in the next decade, Metropolitan Transit System announced Thursday.

The possibilities includes an aerial guideway, tunneling underground or a mix of both.

“What was talked about here today were three different options,” MTS spokesman Mark Olson told FOX 5. “One option for a trolley to the airport is an aerial guideway option. Another option is a cut-and-cover, which is a type of tunnel that is built, and another one is a tunnel-boring machine that would go directly underground and create the tunnel that way.”

While travelers FOX 5 spoke to are excited to learn they could board a trolley rather than pay a hefty rideshare or taxi fare, the possibility of such an extension is still in its very early stages.

“I’d be a fan of it,” traveler Nicholas Wilson-Thayer told FOX 5. “It looks really congested over here. Would speed some drop-off times up, help out some people getting here, so I would be a fan for sure.”

Depiction of a tunnel system. (Courtesy: Metropolitan Transit System)

So far, the airport already has a free shuttle to and from Old Town. But this study found the airport trolley would take travelers only 14 minutes to get to the airport. It would also have several pickup locations near downtown.

“Right here, at the 12th and Imperial transit center, the busiest transit center in the entire system,” Olsen said. “This would provide people with a direct connection to the airport. It would also pass by the convention center where millions of tourists every year are accessing that point, also Santa Fe Depot.”

MTS says it will apply for grants to build this trolley connection.

“It’s efficient,” Wilson-Thayer said. “It works in Boston. I don’t take it all the time but most of the time. If it can be applied here just as well, it’d be great.”

The cost is estimated to be between $1.5 and $2 billion. MTS says it will continue gathering public input and seed money for the project.

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