SAN DIEGO — Opening day is almost here for San Diego’s major new trolley line extension, and FOX 5 got a ride-along preview Thursday.
The 11-mile extension of the UC San Diego Blue Line, built by SANDAG and operated by the Metropolitan Transit System, includes nine new stations from the Santa Fe Depot downtown to the University City area along the Mid-Coast I-5 corridor.
“You’ve got education opportunities, job opportunities — there’s health care — connecting a brand new region to our system,” MTS executive Rob Schupp told FOX 5 Thursday. “Also, this is going to give people who live in the South Bay that one-seat ride all the way up here.”
It’s the region’s largest-ever transit project – connecting the trolley with big employment centers in the Sorrento Valley and University City areas and direct access to spots like Westfield UTC and UC San Diego, where Chancellor Pradeep Khosla called it a “dream come true” for the college community.
“Every stop on this light rail, in my mind, is a part of this campus. It connects us seamlessly — the communities around the stops, we can consider them to be a part of our campus,” Khosla said.
It’s a $2.17 billion project that started in 2016 under the direction of SANDAG.
Fifty-two percent of funding is local from Transnet, the voter-approved half-cent sales tax for regional transportation projects. Forty-eight percent of the funding comes from federal grants.
The hope is that the new line will cut down on future congestion and traffic in the area — offering more people an alternative to getting in the car and getting on packed roads.
“Projections are, we’ll get 27,000 new riders a day, not just on this line, but it will generate new riders on all of our systems,” Schupp said.
On Nov. 21, the extension’s first official day of operation, riders can take any trolley for free all day.
A grand opening event is also scheduled Sunday at the U.C. San Diego trolley stop. You can RSVP and get more information here.
FOX 5’s Matt Meyer contributed to this report.