Del Mar City Council discusses the future of public transport

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DEL MAR – Del Mar City Councilor Dan Quirk made a presentation to the public and his fellow council members this week, starting a discussion on the feasibility and economic impact of making large investments in the rail system.

Quirk, using statistics that show low ridership for both the Coaster and the Amtrak Surfliner, questioned how much SANDAG is willing to invest in the rail line as part of its 30-year “Big 5” plan. movements ”.

“A lot of the dollars, around $ 170 billion or so, is probably spent on rail and when you look at some of the Coaster’s struggles I’m not sure that makes a whole lot of sense,” Quirk said during his presentation. . .

Before the pandemic, the Coaster served an average of 5,196 runners on weekdays, which works out to 127 runners per mile.

Ridership of public transport such as the Coaster has dropped significantly during the pandemic and the recent forecast from the NCTD doesn’t seem to expect it to rebound anytime soon.

“For the year 2031, they expect almost no rebound,” Quirk said. “And when you think people are concerned about germs, health issues, they might not want to deal with public transport in the future.”

Quirk also showed figures showing that the amount of freight carried in San Diego County is small compared to the amount carried by trucks on highways.

“In fact, I see that the trucks carry over 99% of the freight volume in the county,” Quirk said. “So is it a prudent decision to try and maintain separate infrastructure for something that only carries 0.5% of our freight volume? It is expensive to keep these modes separate. And I don’t think I would if it was just me.

The presentation offered a vision for future investment in small, self-driving electric cars that operate as a form of mass transit on existing road networks.

“The very notion of public transit could change. Rather than the fixed rail, we have small electric vehicles that can pick people up at their doorsteps and drop them off at their workplace or wherever they need to go. I think there is a very important possibility that this will happen and we should probably encourage SANDAG to look into this, ”Quirk said.

Quirk ended with several recommended actions for city council, including a request for SANDAG to further examine the feasibility of self-driving electric cars and for a more in-depth cost-benefit analysis to be carried out on the proposed tunnel project which will move the current Bluffs rail line to Del Mar.

In the discussions that followed the presentation, there was not much agreement with the image Quirk had painted.

Suffice it to say, I respectfully disagree with Dan on much of what he’s advocating. But it’s good. This kind of discussion is good for all of us to test each other’s ideas, ”Deputy Mayor Dwight Worden said.

While some of the issues Quirk raised related to the cost and low income of current transit systems, board member Dave Drucker explained why he felt this was irrelevant to transit.

“No public transport system makes money. It’s a money-losing proposition, ”Drucker said. “Why are they losing money? It is part of the social pact that the government has made with its residents and plans to allow people to go to work. “

Discussions among the members remained extremely cordial and respectful throughout the process and all agreed that there would be much more to discuss on public transport in the months to come.



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