Published November 9, 2021

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Report Summary

SANDAG Reboot is a summary analysis of the San Diego Association of Government’s (SANDAG) Draft 2021 Regional Plan (2021 Plan). It is intended to make SANDAG’s proposed plan more accessible to decisionmakers, the media, and the public.

The key take-away from this analysis is that the 2021 Plan reflects a welcome shift in priorities towards less polluting modes of transportation, as compared with the predecessor 2015 Regional Plan (2015 Plan). However, SANDAG’s new plan relies on substantial new revenue that is highly speculative. There is real risk that SANDAG will not be able to deliver what it promises.

Some key changes to the Regional Plan are as follows:

  1. Bus and Rail Upgrades: The 2021 Plan includes modest transit frequency improvements by 2025, which will occur earlier than was previously scheduled under the 2015 Plan. More significant bus and rail frequency improvements are scheduled through 2035, including frequency upgrades on over two thirds of all bus routes.

  2. The Managed Lane Network: Managed lanes are highway lanes reserved for bus travel and cars paying tolls. By 2035, the 2021 Plan proposes a network of managed lanes through a combination of new construction and the conversion of many general-purpose highway lanes into managed lanes. If accomplished, this would be an unprecedented change of highway usage in California.

  3. The Purple Line: The Purple Line has been converted from a trolley to a commuter rail, and would provide better service at a much higher cost. The northern section, from Chula Vista to Sorrento Valley, is scheduled to be completed in 2035.

  4. The Central Mobility Hub and Airport Connector: SANDAG plans to tie a rail connection to the Airport with the construction of a Central Mobility Hub. SANDAG’s current preferred concept is to locate that Central Mobility north of the Airport, which would require many riders to travel past the airport and double back.

  5. Supporting Programs and Policies: The 2021 Plan includes more supporting policies and programs compared to the 2015 Plan. These include grants and funding for Vision Zero, Climate Action Planning, Zero-Emissions Vehicles, Transportation Demand Management, Land Use and Regional Growth, and Housing.

  6. Commuter Rail: Much of the media attention for the 2021 Plan has focused on its commuter rail proposals. However, only Phase 1 of the Purple Line is scheduled to be completed before 2050. They are also would rely on uncertain and unprecedented road charge funding sources.

SANDAG proposes to fund many of its larger and later projects with about $60 billion from road charges, more than twice what it expects to generate from ballot measures. The scale of these proposed charges are without precedent, and SANDAG does not currently have the legal authority to impose them. There is a danger that SANDAG will be forced to scale back or abandon its flagship projects if these hoped-for revenues do not materialize.



  • Jesse O'Sullivan
    published this page in Policy Reports 2021-11-09 13:02:15 -0800

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