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The Pains of Popularity

San Diego's downtown trolley service is becoming too popular, causing officials to propose equipment upgrades to handle the rising crowds. But the bigger trolleys will take out some car lanes and affect traffic lights, and many are unhappy about it.

"Every weekday morning, trolleys disgorge 10,500 passengers from packed cars. During peak hours, Trolleys are so full that the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), which operates the trains, suspects that some people are opting against public transit because it's too crowded."

"'We've been very successful. Too successful, really,' said Brandon Farley, an MTS planner."

"And it's going to get worse. A recent update of the Downtown Community Plan predicts an 183-percent peak-hour growth in ridership by 2030. To meet the expected demand, the MTS board has decided to add a third car to trains running through Downtown and buy new, bigger models. Known as "low-floor" cars because the passenger compartment is literally closer to the ground, the new cars are 10 feet longer. A train with three of these cars would extend 275 feet, roughly 30 feet longer than a Downtown city block. To squeeze into the proposed station between Sixth and Seventh avenues, the city would have to close a travel lane on each of the avenues, and red lights would occasionally need to be longer to accommodate a crossing train."

"Needless to say, the Downtown powers-that-be are not happy."

Full Story: Going underground

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