AutoMatters & More: Public transportation can be a very good and necessary thing
Public transportation can be a very good thing. We all depend upon transportation of some sort — whether it be public, private or some combination of both — to be able to leave our homes, beyond just walking on foot, to enjoy the many benefits of what our societies have to offer. Such transportation has evolved throughout the time of human civilization, enabling our ancestors to travel beyond their immediate areas.
On Nov. 21, here in San Diego, with the cooperation of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), SANDAG (the San Diego Association of Governments) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), a massive public transportation project that was years in the making celebrated its Grand Opening with a wonderful, festive party, to which the public was invited to attend.
The project is the extension of the San Diego Trolley’s light rail transit system northwards from downtown San Diego to the Westfield UTC shopping complex and its UTC Transit Center, with nine new Trolley stations on the UC San Diego Blue Line. It connects to the rest of San Diego County’s Trolley system — northwards up the Pacific coast to the University of California San Diego, southwards to the U.S.-Mexico border and into East County, with vital connections via bus to some (but not yet all) of the surrounding communities.
This project is, in partnership with SANDAG and Caltrans, “a comprehensive Multimodal Corridor Plan for the Central Mobility Hub and Connections Corridor” (source: SANDAG and Caltrans). Studied in the plan will be major transportation arteries, including transit connection to the San Diego International Airport.
The primary objective of the plan will be to develop viable alternatives to “serve as a guiding document, to help inform future decision-making on funding and project development.” All communities, including yours, need to be developing and implementing such plans for our future public transportation needs.
What does this major expansion of public transit mean for the average resident of, or visitor to, San Diego County? I can tell you what it means for me, with a real-world example.
I live in a suburban San Diego community in the Carmel Valley area. My neighborhood is not served by public transportation. I don’t know where the nearest bus route is, but it cannot be close because I have not seen a city bus near here in the over-20 years that I have been a resident. Without transportation, to get to and from my home and — in fact — to and from my entire neighborhood within the greater Carmel Valley area community — requires a walk of several blocks, much of which is up a long, fairly steep hill.
I will be turning 68 years old this week. Fortunately, I am still able to drive my car, so I can still drive out of my neighborhood and get around. However, that will not be the case forever, and I’m sure that situation also applies to other residents of my neighborhood. Some may not even be able to drive safely anymore already.
Large public transportation projects like the UC San Diego Blue Line are well and good, and are badly needed, but such projects by themselves are not enough. Without the connected infrastructure to transport people from their homes to the Trolley, we will eventually (if not already) be little more than prisoners on our immediate streets, unable to leave them to go beyond – for everything from medical care to shopping, recreation, entertainment and more — unless we can get rides from friends, or expensive private transportation entities. That remains a challenge for the future. Solving this challenge will benefit all of us.
No matter where you live, it will benefit you to get involved. Opportunities may include presentations, public workshops, online resources and more. If you are in San Diego County and are interested in learning more, please visit SANDAG.org/CMCP
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Copyright © 2021 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #718r2
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