Rather than embarking on a grand and expensive plan for a new light rail system, the transit authority in San Diego have taken an incremental approach to the development of the system. The paper outlines the approach taken and suggests the key lessons learned of relevance to the U.K., where new systems are being proposed and developed. San Diego's light rail system was the first of the renaissance systems in the U.S. It has continued to expand from 1981, when the first low cost line opened to link downtown to the Mexican border, by converting an existing heavy rail line. There have been eight subsequent extensions to the system to date, the most recent of which, the Mission Valley Line, is by far the grandest extension with a segregated and elevated alignment and substantial stations. The major achievement of this extension is its penetration of an area which, beforehand, was entirely dominated by car use, transected as it is by five heavily trafficked interstate freeways. The light rail system now directly serves the largest shopping centre in Southern California, some major employment areas and popular residential areas. The next planned increment to the system is even more ambitious in that it involves a tunnelled section to serve a major university and employment centres. Whilst the sea change in favour of public transport as against the car is not yet with us in Southern California, the light rail system is incrementally developing to provide a high quality, relevant and very visible public transport system which is helping to gradually change attitudes, to compete with the private car and to support a more sustainable lifestyle. For the covering abstract see ITRD E105101.


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: p. 71-89

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00793734
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Transport Research Laboratory
  • ISBN: 0-86050-324-0
  • Files: ITRD
  • Created Date: Jun 15 2000 12:00AM