A state-of-the-art bus transit center opened up to riders for the first time in University City Friday, offering a new way to get to San Diego's fastest growing shopping mall.
The UTC Transit Center is a collection of bus stops worth $13.7 million that connects directly to the Westfield UTC mall, according to the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS).
One shopper wasn't too thrilled with the new bus station, adjacent to a Nordstrom store in the mall.
"I don't think the people that would come to this mall would be the type of people who'd ride the bus in the first place," said Nahum Barrios, a UC San Diego student.
But county officials for the transportation sector believe this new transit center will attract bigger crowds to the area.
In the last three years, MTS officials said ridership increased 50 percent on key routes through University City. They believe this is mainly due to UCSD students like Barrios, who enjoy unlimited rides with their student ID.
"Pretty much everyone I know uses it cause parking is so bad at UCSD, so like this is the only alternative," added Barrios.
The transit center offers an island for passengers to conveniently transfer between routes, which will eventually connect to the Trolley system as well.
Currently, the extension from Old Town through Clairemont is under construction, according to the MTS. It remains to be seen whether more people will choose public transportation over driving.
Another UCSD student, Haerin Quon, believes more students who already rely on public transportation to get around will appreciate the new transit center.
"I think more people will, definitely students for sure. We already take public transportation all the time so, can count on that," said Quon. "But because it is connected to the mall I feel like more people around the neighborhood will start taking public transportation as well, especially after the trolley is finished."
Eventually, the UTC transit center will be connected to the trolley system over a skybridge, according to the MTS. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2021.