The Sprinter, a long-awaited part to our regional mass-transit plan will soon begin operations. Late last month I was on board the train when it broke through a ceremonial banner at the Escondido Transit Center, completing a 22-mile trip from the Oceanside Transit Center station.
Thirty years ago, a regional mass-transit system was envisioned for San Diego County. It began with the San Diego Trolley. A few years ago, we added the Coaster commuter train between Oceanside and downtown San Diego and soon the Sprinter train will be another critical piece to the mass-transportation plan along the Highway 78 corridor. Our ultimate goal is to relieve a good portion of the traffic congestion on 78.
The train uses two self-propelled cars with 272 seats. It has diesel engines under the passenger compartment and offers a ride up to 55 miles an hour that’s surprisingly smooth. There are 15 stations along the way with service seven days a week. Weekday trips are every 30 minutes in each direction from early morning until 9 P.M. At any time on weekdays, four trains will be on the tracks. The one-way fare is $2; the same as transit buses and from Oceanside to Escondido takes about 53 minutes.
As a longtime North County Transit District board member, even with the federal government paying $152 million toward the project, I wondered about the cost, especially when it went from $352 million in 2003 to $477 million today. It took awhile for me to be won over; however, I now think the Sprinter will prove its worth and five to 10 years from now; we’ll be glad that it’s here. We have answered the public’s plea to improve our mass-transit options by giving them the Sprinter train.
Regional Transportation Improvement Program
There are few things that rile me up more than the State of California stealing money that is supposed to go to local transportation projects. That’s why, while it is not perfect, I voted to support the San Diego Association of Government’s (SANDAG) Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP). The plan takes into account all future regional transportation projects from now until the year 2030 and also gives North County our fair share of available funds.
Among North County’s expected benefits:
- Widening Highway 76 (which is already in its environmental review process) from Oceanside to Interstate 15
- Adding two carpool lanes to Highway 78 between Interstates 5 and 15
- Building four carpool lanes on I-5 between Highway 56 and Oceanside
- Adding carpool and toll lanes north of Highway 76 to Orange County and I-15 north of Highway 78 to Riverside County
- Completing the Sprinter
I’ve always thought the greatest percentage of TransNet tax dollars should go to highways and roads and I believe the RTIP that I supported achieves that.