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SANDAG criticized for not prioritizing transportation needs for low-income commuters

Posted at 6:24 PM, May 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-08 15:57:55-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Portions of SANDAG'S recently unveiled transit plan that focuses on high-speed rail and high-density housing is being criticized by the Environmental Health Coalition.

The group says SANDAG can be doing more to the serve current needs of low-income commuters but is choosing to prioritize pricey long-term projects.

"Our current system doesn’t work for the people who depend on it the most – low-income communities of color," said Carolina Martinez with the Environmental Health Coalition.

The EHC is mostly supportive of the RTP but says items such as 24-hour MTS and trolly service, opportunity passes for commuters 24 and younger, and bathrooms at stations should be implemented more immediately than over the years.

SANDAG's plan will determine San Diego's transportation future for decades to come. Now, local organizations are demanding SANDAG include 10 Big Moves in the RTP to improve public transit.

SANDAG released its Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) at its meeting last Friday.

The 10 demands are:
1. Prioritize environmental justice communities who need public transit most
2. Improve the bus system now
3. Fund the Blue Line Express
4. Provide 24-hour service
5. Fund the Purple Line
6. Provide Youth Opportunity Passes for 24 and under
7. Electrify the bus fleet by 2030
8. Fund anti-displacement efforts
9. Provide bathrooms
10. Ensure an emergency ready transit system

"San Diego’s current public transportation system does not work for the communities that depend on it most – low-income communities of color. 80% of MTS riders live south of Interstate 8 freeway, but only 7% of low-income residents have access to fast and frequent transit. Most MTS riders do not have another mode of transportation available, such as a car. This means they rely on infrequent and inconvenient bus and trolley schedules to get to work, school, or doctor appointments. With 70% of job unreachable by public transit, this seriously affects their quality of life and earning-potential," said Martinez.

SANDAG's plan is open for public review until July 30. The plan's overall price is $160 billion dollars. It would call on voters to approve a 1% sales tax increase. SANDAG board members will cast a final vote by December.