Major improvements planned for trolley's Blue Line

SAN DIEGO - One of the most heavily used trolley lines is undergoing major improvements.

The Blue Line averages about 45,000 passengers on a typical workday.

JC Cruz takes the trolley to school.

"I ride the Blue Line almost every day," Cruz said. "It's the life and blood of my transportation."

"It's very crowded," added fellow passenger, Larry Bautista.

While the size of the trolley will not change, there are visible signs of improvements. Currently, 12 stations along the Blue Line are undergoing construction.

Once it is completed, there will be new signs, new seats, and low-floor trolleys.

Instead of stepping on and off the trolley steps, the low-floor trolleys will be designed to make it easier for those in wheelchairs and passengers will bicycles.

Low-floor trolleys are currently in use on a limited basis, but it will now be expanded to the Blue Line.

"This will speed boarding, improve on time performances, and make an overall better experience," said Jim Linthicum, SANDAG director of mobility.

Improvements on the Blue Line will help in future projects when it comes to funding, Linthicum said.

One of the projects in the works is the Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project, extending the trolley from Old Town to University City.

The issue right now is money. The project is estimated to cost about $1.7 billion. SANDAG hopes half of that funding to come from the federal government.

"Before they make that type of investment in a new project, they want to make sure the region can afford to maintain what we already have," Linthicum said. "It's always a very competitive process."

The Mid-Coast project is still in its early stages.

The Blue Line improvements are scheduled to be completed by 2015.

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