New Bus Line a Business Killer?

A special new "rapid bus" line will be a huge help for anyone traveling between San Diego State University and downtown, but the plan is drawing fire from critics.

San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) transportation planners say dedicated bus lanes, synchronized traffic lights and other changes will cut travel time from the current 48 minutes to 38 minutes and take thousands of cars off our streets by attracting new riders.

"So it will be a much better, more attractive ride," says SANDAG's Jim Linthicum.
Construction is scheduled to start next near, and the 13 new buses could be rolling by 2012.

But in one San Diego neighborhood, the idea is drawing complaints. Businesses on a busy stretch of Park Boulevard think the plan is a job-killer. Owners who have business on Park Boulevard between El Cajon Boulevard and University Avenue are complaining about the $43 million project.

"Our customers need to park here to get to our business,” said Todd Bradley, a co-owner of the Walter Todd Hair Salon. "They're not going to walk blocks."

Thirty-three parking spots would be removed to make room for new bus lanes, and Polk Avenue would be closed at Park Boulevard.

"It would be very inconvenient, and I think it would definitely affect those businesses," predicts Michele Mattingly, a Walter Todd customer.

Bradley has voiced his concerns at public meetings hosted by SANDAG, the county planning agency. But, he said, SANDAG planners "have left right after the presentation and they have not listened to what the public has to say."

SANDAG's Jim Linthicum said he's committed to solving the problem, though. He said 24 of those lost parking spots will be relocated a block away and added that the new bus line could actually help these businesses.

"Hopefully, there will be new customers that will come to them via the bus," Linthicum predicts.


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