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COMMUNITIES SOUTH OF INTERSTATE 8 WON’T GIVE UP ON BETTER, MORE RELIABLE TRANSIT FOR ALL SAN DIEGANS!

Press release Sept 13 by Environmental Health Coalition and SanDiego350

Despite the 2022 ballot measure setback, communities south of the I-8 freeway and environmental justice advocates are committed to continuing to fight for transportation justice. They support a 2024 transportation ballot measure to fix San Diego’s broken transit system that contributes to climate change and leaves working families behind.

San Diego, CA, September 13, 2022 – Led by Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) and SanDiego350 (SD350), community activists from south of the I-8 freeway pledge to continue the fight for a better public transit system. These groups are already organizing to support a 2024 transportation ballot measure following Let’s Go! San Diego’s announcement that its 2022 ballot initiative did not qualify for this year’s November ballot.

“EHC, SD350, and our members were proud supporters of the 2022 Let’s Go! SD campaign,” said Diane Takvorian, EHC executive director. “While we are disappointed that the measure did not qualify for the 2022 ballot we will not give up. Working families living south of Interstate 8 are in urgent need of clean, safe, affordable, and efficient transit.”

“After working to collect signatures, we saw that the general public supports transportation improvements,” said Bee Mittermiller, a volunteer and co-leader of SD350’s transportation team who collected dozens of signatures. “We are excited about getting involved again to make sure that this measure is put before the voters, gets passed, and fulfills the promises of access to opportunities countywide and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”

San Diego County’s current transit system makes it hard for working families to access opportunities, contributes to the climate crisis, and, by virtue of making it difficult to get around without a car, pollutes the air we breathe. 70% of the jobs in the county are unreachable by public transit. Transportation is the region’s largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions at 41% according to SANDAG’s 2021 Regional Plan.

“Our communities use public transit the most, and we are also the most affected by air pollution and climate change,” said Carmen Gaxiola, a National City resident and longtime transit rider. “I’ve spoken with dozens of my family, friends, and neighbors about improving San Diego’s transit because for us, efficient, affordable public transit isn’t just nice to have – it is essential.”

“I supported this effort because shifting to transit is essential for achieving San Diego’s climate and  sustainability goals, and improving the health of our communities. With increasing gas prices and owning an old car, sometimes I rely on public transit, but I wish it was more time efficient to get me to different places,” said Tina Tran, an SD350 volunteer and SDSU student who lives in Oak Park. 

Through a volunteer effort, EHC and SD350 gathered thousands of signatures for the Let’s Go! SD 2022 ballot initiative, exceeding their initial signature gathering goals. Like Gaxiola, many transit riders took ownership of the signature gathering effort by knocking on doors around their neighborhoods, talking to other riders at transit stops, and attending community events.

“We are excited to build off this momentum for the 2024 effort, and we won’t stop there, said Carolina Martinez, EHC’s climate justice campaign director. “We will continue organizing with transit riders to attend SANDAG and MTS meetings to fight for the 10 Transit Lifelines. These include 24-hour frequent bus service, free passes for youth and seniors, complete bus electrification by 2030, and express service on the Blue Line Trolley. It is no longer optional to transform the region’s transit system. It is essential to connect our communities and boost economic prosperity.”

EHC and San Diego 350 are committed to improving the quality of life in San Diego by continuing to organize for a public transit system that nurtures healthy communities. The 10 Transit Lifelines reflect a vision for advancing affordable, safe and frequent transit solutions that benefit all San Diegans. Increasing access to public transit will make San Diegan’s lungs less vulnerable to deadly respiratory illness and make the region’s economy more resilient by opening pathways to a prosperous, healthy, and sustainable future.