The new Mid-City Rapid isn’t much faster or more dependable than the regular bus it replaced, leaving the El Cajon Boulevard community grasping for the transportation solution it was promised, even while it undergoes a development boom.
The article makes it seem like this particular bus line is a failure. The more I read about it, though, the more it seems like it’s less a failure than a project that oversold its benefits. And despite the cost, seems to have been cheaped out at some point.
It’s surely not BRT and near as I can tell doesn’t even have rudimentary things like off-board fare collection. MTS claims that the vehicles “were designed to streamline and accelerate the boarding process and feature multiple doors, low-floor designs and larger windows” but multiple-door boarding is not the same has having multiple doors. Sheesh. A lot of money was spent on the half-dozen or so Rapid routes and even their operation was contracted out to Veolia I suppose to make it seem different (and surely to bust the ATU). A lot is still left to be desired, though; like the total absence of exclusive lanes. They do, at least, have signal pre-emption and next-bus signs at stops.
BUT … ridership on the route is up 18% since the service replaced the former 15 route in October, 2014. No definitive word, but likely reasons for the increase are that SDSU students trying to get to or from downtown San Diego are saving time, that the route has a long span of service (>20 hours/day), and it has excellent peak/off-peak/late headways (10/15/30 minutes).
Implying that this route is somehow a failure misses the mark. Less than what was promised? Yes. Could things be made better? Absolutely. Do we want to look closely at whether it was worth the cost? Yeah, probably not. But please, credit where some credit is due.