[VIDEO] New Rapid bus line goes from SDSU to downtown in 40 minutes

by Monica Linzmeier, Editor in Chief

A new rapid transit bus line that goes from San Diego State to downtown in 40 minutes has replaced the decommissioned line 15.

Starting Sunday, the new Rapid 215 line runs seven days a week from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., and the fares are priced at $2.25 for one-way ride or $5 for an all-day pass for the rapid buses, regular lines and trolleys.

The Rapid 215 buses will leave from the SDSU Transit Center every ten minutes during rush hours and will slow to 15-minute intervals at other times. The buses are expected to take 30 minutes to reach Balboa from SDSU and an additional 10 minutes to arrive Downtown.

The Opticom sits on top of the bus and communicates with the traffic lights to turn them green for the bus.
The Opticom sits on top of the bus and communicates with the traffic lights to turn them green for the bus.

San Diego Association of Governments spokeswoman Helen Gao said the buses are able to make the trip in the expected time intervals because of upgrades to both the buses and the roads. The accordion-style buses are larger to seat more people and are equipped with an “Opticom,” a device that communicates with the traffic signals to extend green lights when the bus is behind schedule. In addition, Park Boulevard, between El Cajon Boulevard and University Avenue, has been paved to provide transit-only lanes for the rapid bus system.

The new bus style was revealed Thursday, Oct. 9, at a ribbon cutting ceremony in which San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria, Metropolitan Transit System Chairman Harry Mathis and others spoke on the importance of creating new public transit lines.

Faulconer focused on the environmental benefit of the buses and said his goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions in San Diego in half by 2035.

“Projects like this are going to help us reach that goal, going to help take people out of their car, reducing single vehicle trips and getting them onto these great buses,” Faulconer said in his speech. “It’s going to mean less pollution in our air, an absolute win-win. This is how smart cities work.”

The Rapid Bus service is a project that has been years in the making.

Miriam Kirshner, SANDAG’s project planner, who has been involved with the project since 2002, said she’s thrilled to finally have it completed.

“The preliminary design started in 2004, the design and environmental permitting, funding, all of that took about 10 years,” Kirshner said.

She said this is not the first nor the last project to improve bus lines in San Diego.

Gloria said the $44 million project includes the rapid bus lines and all of the infrastructure that goes along with it, such as new sidewalks, storm drains, gutters, street signals and traffic lights.

“The kinds of things this community is hungry for, that we need in a neighborhood that is 100 years old and now we are finally getting,” he said.

The Rapid 215 will connect to the Rapid 235, which will go up to Kearny Mesa, Miramar College Transit Station and to the Escondido Transit Center. The connecting station is the Boulevard Transit Plaza at El Cajon Boulevard and the Interstate 15. Rapid 235 and Rapid 237 both cost $2.50 for a one-way ticket.

A 30-day pass is $72 for adults and can be purchased online. One-ways tickets can be purchased on the bus with exact change, according to the MTS website.