A trolley at Sycuan Green Line’s Gaslamp Quarter Station. Photo courtesy MTS

Ridership on the Metropolitan Transit System has climbed by more than 200,000 trips in the first seven months of its latest fiscal year, the agency reported Monday.

The gains were led by the trolley, which has posted six straight months of year-over-year increases.

“This shows there is a real mandate to invest in improving transit,” said Georgette Gómez, MTS chair and San Diego City Council president.

She added that the ridership growth is “great news for the goals of the region’s various climate action plans.”

Public transit ridership has dropped in most systems in the United States over the past several years. MTS was one of the last to experience a drop and it may, if trends continue, be one of the first to reverse the trend, officials said.

For the first seven months of the fiscal year that began July 1, trolley ridership was up 1 percent to 22.0 million, while bus ridership was essentially unchanged at 27.9 million.

“These numbers are highly encouraging,” said Paul Jablonski, MTS chief executive officer. “In January of last year, MTS began implementing many route changes that increased frequency on our high-demand routes. We completed making changes in January of this year and we’ve already begun to see the results.”

While bus ridership was flat, MTS officials said two developments may put that service into the plus column soon.

In late January, the South Bay Rapid opened and average weekday ridership is now 1,500 and climbing. In addition, MTS replaced shuttles operated by UC San Diego with Rapid Superloop routes at the end of January.

MTS operates 95 bus routes and three Trolley lines on 53 miles of railway.

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Chris Jennewein

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