How Adequate is Public Transit to Mesa?

Mesa might seem underserved by public transit, but there’s no plan to fix what ain’t really broke.

Ian Caffarel, Staff Writer

I use the bus every single day. Despite having a driver’s license, due to not having a car, I find myself using the bus. The other alternatives either take too long, such as walking or biking, or are too costly, such as Uber, Lyft, or a taxi. With all transportation, it’s a question as to which is more valuable, time or money. And since many students, like myself, don’t have much money to spend, we use public transportation.

At Mesa College, Monday through Friday, day in and day out, hundreds of students board and leave buses on Route 44, at the intersection of Mesa College Drive and Armstrong Place. Others might do the same with Route 41, at the intersection of Genesee Avenue and Marlesta Drive, at the west of the campus.

Mesa College served over 31,000 undergraduates in 2014, making it the largest of the three SDCCD schools. Yet it is only served by two bus lines. You just read that right–the largest school in the system only gets two bus lines. This leads to the following question:

Is the largest school in the system woefully underserved by public transit?

In massive contrast, Mesa’s sister schools, Miramar and City, boast large, state-of-the-art transit centers. Miramar, just off the I-15, serves roughly 12,500 students and is served by no less than seven bus lines, including I-15 Rapid routes 235 and 237. Along similar lines, City College, serving 15,000 students, is located in the heart of downtown. City is served by nine bus lines, including Rapid routes 235 and 215, the “Airport Shuttle”, Route 992, as well as the Blue and Orange Lines of the Trolley.

Like Mesa, Grossmont is served by two bus lines, the 115 and 854. Cuyamaca is a similar case, with two bus lines. Even better: they both connect to the trolley.

Similarly, Mesa’s two bus lines have trolley connections.The 44 bus goes to Old Town, and the 41 to Fashion Valley, which both offer connections to the Green Line. In Old Town, there are also connections to the Coaster and to Amtrak.

To get an honest answer as to the adequacy of Mesa’s transportation system, a look at the 4-year institutions in San Diego County is needed. UCSD is served by several bus lines, including the 41, which passes along Mesa’s westside. SDSU gets the same treatment as City, several bus lines, plus the Green Line. USD, however, is seemingly served less than we are, by one bus, but the campus isn’t too far away from the trolley. And last but not least, looking to North County, CSU San Marcos, Mira Costa College, and Palomar College all have bus service, to one degree or another, and are near the Sprinter rail line.

This deduces that we have several other colleges in the San Diego area that have the same amount of public transportation service or less than Mesa College. Some don’t even have direct public transit service at all. In fact, Mesa, when you factor in that many students commute by car, has adequate public transportation service for it’s needs.

Looking at the San Diego 2050 Regional Transport Plan, or RTP, some improvements are coming. The trolley will work it’s way to UCSD, and then in good time to the vicinity of Miramar College. Public transport will expand all over the county, and hey–San Diego might get some high-speed rail!

After talking to a handful of students,it was concluded that the bus system was good as is. Some of them did offer suggestions, such as improving wait times or even adding speakers to play music. Surprisingly, none of them suggested adding more service. This can be owed to the fact that quite a few students commute using cars, bikes, by walking, or Uber.

By giving competing colleges in the area a thorough look, Mesa, for it’s purposes, seems to have adequate amounts of public transportation for it’s purposes. Given that even two bus lines serve Mesa, it isn’t surprising that there’s no push to improve this situation. Perhaps Mesa’s public transit setup ain’t broke.

And you know as they always say: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.