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Will you ride? Transit group hopes to collect ridership data

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A MTS bus stops in La Jolla.
(File photo)

The Carmel Valley Community Planning board’s transit subcommittee has a plan in motion to reinstate transit to the area and it is hoping that the community will get on board.

Subcommittee member Sonya Solinsky said it’s important to show predicted ridership values to get transit into the communities they are calling North West San Diego: Carmel Valley, Del Mar, Torrey Pines, Del Mar Mesa, Torrey Hills, Rancho Santa Fe, Fairbanks Ranch, Torrey Highlands, Black Mountain Ranch and Rancho Penasquitos.

“The support will confirm that transit is something that the residents of these communities really want,” Solinsky said.

Solinsky is encouraging everyone to take a short online survey as she gathers data to show ridership exists to pilot a program making missing north-south and east-west connections.

“The survey is simple: Do you want more transit and will you use it?” Solinsky said of the quick survey found at tinyurl.com/sdtransitsurvey

The survey is not just for local residents but also includes those with employees or workers who come to this area from other regions.

To rally support for her cause Solinsky has met with Assemblyman Todd Gloria, San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez (chair of the MTS board and a SANDAG board member), members of the Climate Action Plan and District 1 City Councilmember Barbara Bry. She also hopes to meet with District 5 City Councilmember Mark Kersey.

“We will be working with Barbara Bry’s transportation team on getting her our survey data and looking into ways that our communities can be a part of Ballot Measure 2020,” Solinsky said of MTS’ proposed sales tax to fund transit projects.

On Feb. 18, Solinsky made a stop at the Torrey Hills Community Planning Board where she gained the board’s unanimous support for her initiative as long as the north-south connection included the Torrey Hills Shopping Center.

“I’ve been an advocate for public transit,” said Teresa Henning, the Torrey Hills board’s business seat representative and manager of American Assets’ Torrey Reserve campus on El Camino Real. When fully leased, she said the center has 600 workers who travel to their offices with no access to public transit.

One of Solinsky’s goals is to get the two local transit options into this year’s update of the 2050 SANDAG Regional Transit Plan (RTP).

The proposed “Red” line would start at Highway 101 and go east on Del Mar Heights Road to Carmel Valley Road, through Pacific Highlands Ranch and on to Rancho Penasquitos, ending at the Sabre Springs transit station on Carmel Mountain Road.

The “Blue” line would start on El Camino Real/Via de la Valle and go south on El Camino Real through Carmel Valley, past SR-56 to Carmel Mountain Road in Torrey Hills toward Sorrento Valley, connecting with the Sorrento Valley transit station and possibly making the connection up to Genesee Avenue and the future Blue Trolley Line from La Jolla to Old Town that is set to open in 2021.

SANDAG’s 2050 RTP does include two lines that serve east-west and north-south in the area by 2035. The proposed north-south connection is rapid transit from Oceanside to Del Mar Heights but does not have stops in Carmel Valley. The proposed east-west connection runs from Carmel Valley Road to the Sabre Springs MTS station using the shoulders of SR-56 instead of city streets so it doesn’t make the community connections that the subcommittee is seeking.

Hassan Ikhrata, the new executive director of SANDAG, has said that there will be some changes to the RTP and has called for a new vision for the region with more investment in public transit. SANDAG’s vision will be discussed at the Carmel Valley planning board’s Feb. 28 meeting, 7 p.m. at the Carmel Valley Library.

In her efforts, Solinsky knows in order to be successful, she needs community involvement. From 2006 to 2009, MTS ran a pilot route from Carmel Valley that started at Del Mar Highlands Town Center and went to University Town Center but the route was discontinued due to low ridership and low population density at that time.

“We’re getting a second chance and we can’t mess it up. If we do get a pilot program approved, it is important that all communities’ residents understand it must be successful by showing ridership,” Solinsky said. “Since it was taken away due to low ridership in the past, it could be done again. If this were to happen again this area would be significantly marked as a non-transit area of San Diego because its residents didn’t use it.

“It’s a one-time opportunity, we really have to show that we’re going to use it.”

Track the group’s efforts at its Facebook page Reinstating Transit to North West San Diego and on Twitter @sd_nw.


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