New MTS trolley
A new trolley at an Metropolitan Transit System facility. Courtesy MTS

Circulate San Diego believes a new half-cent sales tax in parts of San Diego County served by buses and trolleys could raise billions of dollars for transit improvements.

The transportation advocacy group released a report Wednesday that concluded a half-cent tax would raise $10.4 billion over 40 years if applied only in parts of the county served by the Metropolitan Transit System.

“Our report is a roadmap to help MTS put forward the strongest possible transportation ballot measure to attract the support of voters,” said Circulate San Diego Executive Director Colin Parent.

The report builds upon the lessons from the San Diego Association of Governments‘ failed attempt to persuade voters to approve Measure A in 2016. That measure was hurt by reports that SANDAG either inflated the anticipated revenue or understated project costs.

MTS is considering a new ballot measure, and Circulate San Diego recommended it “not simply replicate what SANDAG proposed with Measure A.”

The group said the ballot measure must clearly define the major projects covered, including a new Purple Line connecting Kearny Mesa and San Ysidro, improvements to the Rapid bus system, the long-awaited trolley connection to San Diego International Airport, and a Coaster extension to Petco Park.

“A world class transportation system for San Diego will require new funding from a voter-approved ballot measure,” the report concluded. “A bold vision for transportation
is necessary so that voters will believe that a new funding measure will materially improve their lives.”

Circulate’s report advised MTS to aim for the November 2020 general election should the agency choose to go forward with a ballot measure

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