SAN DIEGO (KOGO) - Some of San Diego’s northern neighborhoods will now be buzzing with trolley cars.
San Diego residents got a free ride on the San Diego Trolley Sunday as the light rail service celebrated the grand opening of the Blue Line extension. Five years in the making, the extension connects more of San Diego's neighborhoods to Old Town, Downtown San Diego and beyond.
"We are very excited, we've been watching it being built for the last few years," says Jenn Ragusa of Bay Park. "We're hoping that our kids who are teenagers but don't drive yet can use it and go up there to do shopping and hang out at some of the food places up there."
"I'm looking forward to checking out the overpasses, those raised bridge sections," says Craig Perry. Despite his enthusiasm for the new line, Perry said he doubted it would ease traffic on Interstate 5.
The new 11 mile route runs mostly adjacent to the freeway and offers stops along the Bay Park and Clairemont neighborhoods as well as the VA Hospital and the University of California San Diego campus. Add that to the nearly 20 miles of service already in place from Old Town to the U.S.-Mexico border in San Ysidro.
A special event was held at UC San Diego's Warren Field, complete with food, fun and free MTS hats and tote bags to mark the inaugural day of the new route.
"This is our first time and I feel like it's an easier way of transportation instead of always taking the bus," says Bonnie Wong, a student at UC San Diego.
SANDAG says the $2.1 billion project was completed on time and on budget.
Portions of the Blue Line and Orange Line travel on rail lines purchased from the former San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railway (a division of Southern Pacific Railroad) back in 1979. The San Diego Trolley officially started service on July 26, 1981, making it one of the oldest second-generation light rail systems in the nation.