Essential Transit

Published April 23, 2020

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Report Summary

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, San Diego’s essential workers rely on public transportation. Our trains and buses are providing essential transit services that help our region survive today’s pandemic.

Circulate San Diego utilized data provided by the national advocacy organization TransitCenter to determine how many transit riders rely on transit to get to essential jobs in the San Diego region. These figures show just how vital the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and North County Transit District (NCTD) are for getting us through this pandemic.

Nationally, 2.8 million people who work in industries deemed essential in our battle against coronavirus commute daily by transit. This is more than a third of total riders during normal times. According to the 2018 ACS data, nearly 16,000 essential workers in the San Diego region commute to work on the region’s buses, trains, and ferries every day.  This comprises 35 percent of those who normally commute aboard MTS and NCTD vehicles.

While MTS and NCTD have experienced ridership declines, San Diego’s transit agencies continue to carry a significant portion of essential commuters. MTS buses are carrying 30 percent of usual ridership and the trolley carries 40 percent of usual ridership. NCTD is currently carrying 27 percent of usual riders.

It is crucial to ensure essential San Diego industries can persevere and provide essential services to all San Diegans. Officials must continue to prioritize transit as an essential component of the transportation network.


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