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San Diego’s Climate Action Plan Goals for Mode-Share are Very Achievable

Last week, Circulate San Diego and Climate Action Campaign released a report titled “New Climate for Transportation,” detailing how the City of San Diego’s groundbreaking Climate Action Plan will result in transportation improvements. 

The report explains that to achieve the greenhouse gas goals of the plan, policies at the City and SANDAG must change, to prioritize more transit, bicycle infrastructure, crosswalks, complete streets, and to encourage more transit oriented development.

The Climate Action Plan sets goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in part by setting goals related to how San Diegans commute to work. Those goals are expressed as “mode-share,” the percentage of commuters who take transit, walk, bicycle, or drive. 

The release of the report generated a LOT of media coverage, which indicates the degree to which San Diegans care both about the climate and their transportation choices. One area where some of the media coverage has been confused is the scope of where those mode-share goals apply.

The mode-share goals for the Climate Action Plan apply not to the entire City of San Diego, but instead to the residents that live within 1/2 mile of transit, which are called “Transit Priority Areas.”  A map of those areas is provided below.

According to an analysis by the Voice of San Diego, these areas represent about 60 percent of the San Diego population.

So when the Climate Action Plan calls for a 25% mode-share of transit riders in 2035, that means that only 25 percent of residents that live within a 1/2 mile of transit will commute via bus or train. And because that geography applies to only 60 percent of residents, it means that only about 15 percent of all San Diegans will commute via transit. Compared to the 11 percent transit ridership rate in car-centric Los Angeles today, and the Climate Action Plan’s mode-share goals look pretty reasonable.

So yes, the City of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan is ambitious and visionary. But it’s also very achievable. Our goal now is to make sure that our elected representatives make the right choices to achieve these mode-share targets.