San Diego trolley stops among worst in state, study says

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego trolley stops received an overall grade of C- in a statewide study released Monday of how transit rail stations encourage ridership and impact the quality of life in surrounding neighborhoods.

The report by the UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment studied the stations and neighborhoods within a half-mile radius of 489 stops in the six rail transit systems in California.

The San Diego trolley system’s overall grade was tied for last with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, which serves San Jose and the Silicon Valley. It even had the station ranked the lowest in the entire state, the trolley stop at Gillespie Field in El Cajon.

The best overall grades went to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which received a B. The Metro rail system serving the Los Angeles area received a C.

According to the study, the best performing Metropolitan Transit System stations in San Diego were the main 12th and Imperial stop in the East Village, and one on C Street in front of the City Administration Building in downtown San Diego. Both received B grades.

Grades of F were given to the following stations — Massachusetts Avenue in Lemon Grove, Santee Town Center, Spring Street in La Mesa, Fenton Parkway in Mission Valley, and the El Cajon Transit Center and Gillespie Field in El Cajon. The latter was named the worst station in the state because it is used by almost no nearby residents or workers, according to the study.

According to the report’s authors, light rail lines are so expensive that attention needs to be paid to surrounding areas, which will determine how effective the systems will be. Studies show that the most effective rail lines serve job centers, retail and service areas and residential neighborhoods.

The letter grades were based on 11 factors, among them transit use by residents and workers, the number of jobs or homes near a station, walkability, crime, change in real estate values between 2009-13, transit affordability and greenhouse gas emissions.

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