MTS trolley
An MTS trolley. Courtesy of the transit agency

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System reported Wednesday that ridership on its trolleys and buses climbed by nearly 1 million in the third quarter of this year.

The growth in ridership, which bucks national trends, was led by the trolley, which has posted six straight months of year-over-year gains, including a 9% jump in September.

“This is great news for the region, for transit and for our environment,” said Nathan Fletcher, MTS Board Chair and a San Diego County Supervisor. “Transit is part of a better connected future for San Diego and we need to continue the momentum. People want more transportation options and our efforts to re-build and re-imagine an accessible transit system are working.”

“These ridership gains are highly encouraging,” said Paul Jablonski, MTS chief executive officer. “We’ve done many things internally with our operations to turn it around, such as streamlining service and adding to the frequency of key bus routes.”

Trolley ridership rose by 621,063 passenger trips in the July to September period, while bus ridership increased by 323,481 passenger trips,

The transit agency cited a number of reason for the increase:

  • A promotional campaign that culminated in the annual free ride day on Oct. 2
  • Significantly higher gas prices
  • Transit optimization that added frequency to many bus routes
  • The popular South Bay Rapid bus route from Otay Mesa to downtown

MTS operates 95 bus routes and three trolley lines on 53 miles of double-tracked railway. Every weekday, some 300,000 passenger trips are taken on MTS bus and trolley routes in San Diego County.

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