San Diego’s Mismanaged Transit System and the Consequences of Democrat Leadership

The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) in San Diego has been facing significant challenges in recent years, and the poor management under Democrat leadership is to blame. The situation reached a breaking point when former Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, a disgraced Democrat political leader and former Chair of MTS, had to leave in disgrace due to allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Unfortunately, the current Democrats at MTS are now doubling down on their failed system and app, making it harder for those who rely on or want to use MTS services. This decision only serves to hurt the very people they claim to want to help.

One of the glaring issues plaguing MTS is its Pronto Pay system, a digital ticketing app that was supposed to make riding transit easier and more convenient. However, the reality has been quite the opposite. Many riders have expressed frustration with the app’s user-unfriendliness, deterring potential first-time riders from choosing public transit. Problems with scanning the QR code often lead riders to board without paying, resulting in significant revenue losses for MTS.

Ride SD, a transit advocacy group, has been pushing MTS to adopt contactless payment options such as tapping credit cards or using Apple Pay, a feature available in many other transit systems. This change would improve the first-time user experience and encourage more people to shift to public transportation. However, MTS has struggled to get riders to use the Pronto app at all, let alone tap or scan it for payment.

The situation with Pronto Pay is reminiscent of a similar debate from seven years ago when outdated fare payment systems hindered the region’s transit ambitions. Despite past criticisms and the opportunity for improvement, MTS has failed to address the underlying issues and provide a seamless and efficient ticketing system.

The consequences of MTS’s mismanagement are substantial. In 2022, MTS estimated a loss of around $3 million in farebox revenue due to riders not validating their tickets. They expect this figure to double in the coming year. Before the launch of Pronto and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, ticket sales traditionally supported a quarter of MTS’s operating budget. However, in 2022, ticket revenue only covered 15 percent of expenses, exacerbating the financial strain on the agency.

In response to the demands from Ride SD and the need to collect revenue from more riders, MTS proposed contactless payment options by credit card or digital wallet. However, concerns have been raised by San Diego Councilwoman Vivian Moreno, who worries that adding these features would inconvenience the regular transit riders who already use the Pronto app.

While it is important to address the needs of low-income riders, MTS’s approach has been misguided. The focus should be on streamlining the ticketing process, improving user experience, and attracting new riders, rather than doubling down on a flawed system.

The mismanagement of MTS under Democrat leadership has led to a $51 million deficit in the agency’s operating budget for the coming fiscal year. This deficit is part of a broader financial crisis faced by transit agencies across the state, highlighting the need for effective leadership and financial stewardship.

San Diego deserves a well-managed and efficient transit system that prioritizes the needs of its riders. It is time for a change in leadership that can bring fresh perspectives, innovative solutions, and a commitment to improving the transit experience for all residents. San Diegans must hold their elected officials accountable and demand the necessary reforms to ensure a well-functioning transit system that serves the community effectively.

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