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Public Transit

Social Equity Early Action Transit Pilot

Social Equity Early Action Transit Pilot

SANDAG has an obligation to eliminate disparities and ensure that safe, healthy, accessible, and inclusive opportunities are available to everyone. The agency is committed to preserving and enhancing the quality of life for everyone in the region. The Transit Equity Pilot is a down payment on that commitment by creating near-term mobility solutions for historically undeserved and marginalized communities.

The SANDAG 2021 Regional Plan Social Equity Working Group (SEWG), is charged with providing input on the 2021 Regional Plan from an equity perspective. An ad-hoc committee was formed in July 2021 to develop a Transit Equity Pilot proposal. The SEWG devised the following proposals for the transit pilot:

  • All youth 18 and under would receive a free transit fare for one year
  • Add transit service on weekday and weekend routes in traditionally underserved areas of the region
  • Work with our Community Based Organizations (CBOs) to help get the free transit passes into the hands of youth, and to educate residents on the existing and added services in their areas
  • Conduct a research study to evaluate the benefits of the pilot

SANDAG staff worked with SEWG representatives, various other stakeholders, and San Diego transit operators to implement several early action pilot projects. These include public transit and bike projects, policies, and programs that will benefit the most underserved members of our region.

These pilot projects will function as building blocks to ensure the Board of Directors fulfill  the Commitment to Equity that was adopted in January 2021 and to support  future projects identified in the draft 2021 Regional Plan. The 2021 Regional Plan includes funding for transit operating funds and fare subsidies.

Next Steps

The SANDAG Board of Directors approved a budget amendment at its October 22, 2021, meeting that allocated more than $2 million of FY 2022 funding to the pilot project, with additional funding planned in FY 2023. SANDAG staff is working closely with transit operators and community stakeholders to finalize the details of the fare costs and transit improvement projects. Pending Board approvals from MTS and NCTD, the Free Youth Fares are anticipated to begin in spring 2022, and the pilot’s proposed transit improvements will begin in fall 2022. Community education & outreach and a research study will begin just before the free fares become available, via collaboration with local community-based organizations and an independent researcher. The Transit Equity Pilot will be funded through summer 2023, with the results of the research report presented to the SANDAG Board of Directors shortly thereafter.

Project Manager

Brian Lane, Senior Regional Planner
Phone: (619) 699-7331, Email:

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or