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Public Transit

Mid-City Rapid

Construction of the Mid-City Rapid – a high-frequency, limited-stop service between San Diego State University and Downtown San Diego via El Cajon and Park boulevards – is scheduled to begin service on October 12, 2014. 

For information about how this new transit line (to be renamed Rapid 215) ties in with the rest of the Rapid network in the region and for details about a free community event to celebrate the start of service, please visit RapidMTS.com

For construction details, please visit  KeepSanDiegoMoving.com/MidCityRapid.

The Mid-City Rapid will provide North Park, City Heights, and College Area residents, students, and workers with a fast and reliable service in a key transit corridor in the region. 

Rapid will achieve faster travel times by using measures such as transit signal priority, dedicated bus lanes, and limited station spacing. Mid-City Rapid is among the first of a new breed of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) services that SANDAG is building in collaboration with the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS). The project is an integral part of a regionwide strategy to create a BRT network, so residents have travel choices that are attractive alternatives to driving.

The Mid-City Rapid project is included in the TransNet Extension Ordinance approved by local voters in 2004. TransNet, a regional half-cent sales tax for transportation, funds half of the cost of Mid-City Rapid. The other half of the funding comes from a federal grant. The budget for the project, including buying new buses, is about $44 million.

Project Benefits

The project will benefit both existing transit riders and serve to attract new riders by transforming the existing MTS Route 15 into a Rapid service with faster travel times, enhanced customer experience, and more frequent service. Specific improvements include:

Faster Travel Times: Improved travel times will be achieved by consolidating transit stops, building transit-only lanes on Park Boulevard, synchronizing traffic signals on El Cajon Boulevard, extending green signal phases for buses, and low-floor boarding.

Enhanced Customer Experience: The customer experience will be improved through the creation of transit stations with distinctive shelters branded for the Rapid service, next arrival signs, and new articulated vehicles with a unique look. The project also will improve the pedestrian environment and safety in and around station areas through better crosswalks and hardscape/landscape enhancements.

Frequent Service: Service frequency will be upgraded on the Rapid to every 10 minutes during weekday rush hours, and every 15 minutes during most non-rush hours and weekends, and every 30 minutes after hours on weekdays and weekends.

The Mid-City Rapid route runs through several of San Diego’s older, densely developed urban communities that are identified as smart growth areas in the Regional Comprehensive Plan. New development continues to occur along the route, with an emphasis on residential in-fill and walkability. In addition, El Cajon Boulevard has been enhanced with landscaped medians to improve its image and appeal. The Mid-City Rapid project will continue this trend and support the revitalization of El Cajon Boulevard.

Frequently Asked Questions

What will make the transit service rapid? Low-floor vehicles and raised curbs at the stations will allow for faster boarding. Transit signal priority will enable buses to move through intersections a bit faster. The transit-only lanes on Park Boulevard will expedite travel.

What will be the hours of operation?  Approximately 5 a.m. to 1 a.m.

What vehicles will be used? New low-floor, articulated vehicles will be purchased and branded with a special paint scheme. The vehicles, which are powered by clean natural gas, are designed for a comfortable ride, with improved lighting and increased headroom. Rapid vehicles are equipped with racks that accommodate two bikes on the front of the vehicle.

When will this happen? Service will start on October 12, 2014.

How will parking on Park Boulevard be affected by the project? In response to community input, SANDAG has redesigned the median transit-only lanes along Park Boulevard to minimize parking impacts. While some parking spaces will be eliminated from Park Boulevard, additional parking spaces will be added on Centre Street, Lincoln Avenue, and Polk Avenue to produce a net gain.

On Park Boulevard south of University Avenue, will there be a loss of on-street parking or restrictions on turning movements? A bus pocket will be added for buses running in the northbound direction, but there is no loss of parking or restrictions on turning movements.

Will Rapid stations be shared with local bus stops? Some stations will be shared by local and Rapid bus vehicles. Each location varies, depending on right-of-way availability, driveway conflicts, and street configuration.

What is the rationale for moving the traffic signal from Polk Avenue to Lincoln Avenue? There are a number of reasons. First, the city plans to install a traffic signal at Lincoln, so the project design accommodates this addition. The Polk intersection forms a strange angle, making it difficult for drivers to see oncoming traffic. Removing the signal also allows through traffic, including buses, to flow more smoothly. However, a pedestrian crosswalk will be added, and pedestrian crossings will be protected by a flashing or solid red light during the pedestrian phase.

Will left turns be allowed at Howard Avenue? Left turns will be allowed from Howard onto southbound Park Boulevard. However, drivers going north on Park Boulevard will not be allowed to turn left or make U-turns at Howard. They will have to go one block north to El Cajon Boulevard to make a U-turn.

Is it possible to move the Park/El Cajon Boulevard station to El Cajon Boulevard? This was investigated and rejected because the eastbound turns from Park and Normal are somewhat blind, and may result in vehicles turning into the back of a stationed bus. Also, El Cajon Boulevard has a fairly steep grade at this location, making it difficult for passengers to board.

Is it possible to move the route to Florida Street? In order to maximize ridership, the bus route needs to stay on high-volume, non-residential streets.

Project Manager

Eric Adams, Senior Project Manager
Phone: (619) 699-1974, Email: eric.adams@sandag.org

For media inquiries, please contact David Hicks at (619) 699-6939 or david.hicks@sandag.org.