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As San Diego Economy Opens Up, MTS to Increase Trolley and Bus Service


The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) will play a significant role helping San Diego residents get back to work as more businesses and destinations are allowed to open. MTS will increase weekday midday service on the UC San Diego Blue Line beginning on Monday, June 15. This will be followed by service increases on many bus routes in late June.

“As we continue the regional re-opening of our economy, we know more people will need the services that MTS provides. We want people to know that San Diego’s transit system will continue to be a safe and reliable option as possible,” said MTS Board Chair Nathan Fletcher. “We’ve strengthened our already-enhanced sanitizing protocols on vehicles and at stations and implemented policies to better-protect our passengers and employees. We are now increasing service to help reliability and allow for greater physical distancing of passengers.”

Beginning Monday, June 15, the UC San Diego Blue Line Trolley, which connects the San Ysidro international border to Downtown San Diego, will increase its service frequency to every 7.5 minutes from 4:30 a.m. until 7 p.m., and keep 15-minute frequencies until 9 p.m., followed by every 30 minutes until the end of the service day. The new schedule can be accessed on the MTS website.

The service increase was initiated to accommodate growing ridership since the week of April 20 on the Blue Line. Average weekday ridership has increased 28% increase since then, topping out at 25,367 the week of June 1.  More frequency will give more opportunity for passengers to practice social distancing on board and on platforms when possible. Service on the Orange Line and Sycuan Green Line will remain unchanged.

While Trolley service will first be increasing to closely mirror pre-COVID levels, MTS is also making preparations to increase bus service in the coming weeks. Schedules and routes are being finalized. The goal is to provide service increases that meet market demands. MTS reduced weekday service levels approximately 25% on April 13 to address the reality of record-low ridership while still providing critical service for essential workers and trips.

In addition to service increases, MTS also continues to improve its already-strict safety and sanitizing protocols. The latest development on that front is retrofitting buses with germ barriers to better protect bus operators. Barriers will also allow the agency to return to front-door boarding which gives passengers more room to space out on board. MTS has only allowed rear-door boarding since April 1 to protect the health of bus operators.

Safe-travel guidelines: Passengers aboard any MTS bus or Trolley should continue to follow the social distancing guidelines and safety measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. Other guidelines and requirements while riding include:

Face coverings:

  • All passengers are required to wear a face covering while using the transit system.

Rear-door boarding:

  • Passengers must board from the rear door on buses to increase distance between passengers and the bus operator.

Social distancing:

  • While sitting, passengers should keep a 6-feet distance between each other and the bus operator when possible.
  • New studies show that limiting conversations when traveling on transit also helps limit transmission of viruses.

No-Contact Fare Purchase:

  • Riders are encouraged to get bus or Trolley fares through the Compass Cloud app to minimize contact with machines, or other people. Cash is not accepted on bus, but fares are required to ride.

MTS continues to operate about 95 bus routes and three Trolley lines. Frequencies and spans have been modified due to COVID-19. Updated schedules can be accessed on the MTS website. MTS asks that that people wear face coverings and practice physical distancing at all times.