Ceremony in National City launching low-floor trolley service on the Blue Line. Courtesy SANDAG

A new fleet of low-floor trolley cars began running on the Blue Line from downtown to the border Tuesday as a $600 million upgrade nears completion.

The Blue Line is the busiest transit line in the San Diego region, handling more than 15 million passenger trips in the most recent year.

“This is a significant milestone for our region’s Trolley network,” said Metropolitan Transit System Chairman Harry Mathis. “The low-floor design will make our entire transit system more efficient. Additionally, upgrades at Blue Line stations — such as 8th Street and 24thStreet — will vastly improve bus and Trolley connections.”

The new low-floor trolleys will improve operational efficiency by eliminating steps and mechanical lifts for people with disabilities. Trolley platforms are now nearly level with the floor of the trolley, making boarding and exiting much easier for all passengers.

MTS operates 76 low-floor trolley cars throughout the entire system and up to 28 will be dedicated to operations on the Blue Line daily. The cars were manufactured in Sacramento by Siemens.

The entire trolley system is being upgraded with funds from California Proposition 1B and TransNet, the regional half-cent sales tax for transportation administered by SANDAG. In addition to low-floor cars, the work includes new station platforms, next-arrival electronic signs, signaling systems, overhead wires, larger shelters and track replacement

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.