USA: Testing of the Mid-Coast Extension light rail line has begun, after the San Diego Association of Governments officially handed the route over to operator MTS ahead of the opening which is scheduled for November 21.

‘This is an important day’, said MTS board Chair Nathan Fletcher on June 29. ‘We get the keys to Mid-Coast and it is all-systems-go for testing our trolleys on the tracks. The public will see more and more of San Diego’s famous red trolleys testing on these tracks over the next several months. MTS will be working hard to train staff to get ready for the November launch.’


Being developed as a $2·17bn project, the 17·6 km extension starts from a connection with the existing light rail Green Line at the Old Town Transit Centre, and runs north to the UC San Diego campus area and medical facilities, terminating at the UTC Transit Center.

When it opens, the Blue Line will be extended northwards from the city centre to provide a through service from the Mexican border at San Ysidro to the University via downtown, connecting the largest centres of employment in San Diego.

The extension was designed by Parsons Brinkerhoff, Kimley Horn and HDR, with construction undertaken by the Mid-Coast Transit Constructors joint venture of Stacy & Witbeck, Herzog Contracting and Skanska USA under a $921·8m contract awarded in 2016. Siemens was subcontracted to supply the overhead electrification, lineside substations and signalling.


In November 2016 MTS awarded Siemens a contract to supply 45 S700 low-floor LRVs to operate the Mid-Coast Extension and increase capacity on the rest of the network; this order was partially funded by the TransNet 0·5% sales tax dedicated to transport projects. The last of these vehicles was delivered in October 2020, and will be followed by further 25 cars ordered in 2019.

MTS said the operation of the line would create 128 jobs, adding that local bus routes would be adapted to feed the route.

‘The Mid-Coast Extension of the UC San Diego Blue Line trolley is the largest infrastructure project in our region’s history, and a testament to what we can achieve when local agencies like SANDAG and MTS work together’, said SANDAG Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear. ‘This project will give people real transportation choices. As we approach the completion of this project, we also move one step closer to realising SANDAG’s vision for a faster, fairer and cleaner transportation system for generations to come.’