Three Lines

In light rail's new era of enlightenment, San Diego was the first U.S. city to build a line.  The system's early and continuing popularity has been a great American urban transportation success story. 

There are now three lines serving the metropolitan area.  The lengthy initial route began operation in 1981 between downtown (or "Centre City," as it was once called on the trolley markers) and the Mexican border at San Ysidro/Tijuana.  That service is now part of the Blue Line, which has been extended north to Old Town Transit Center. 

The second service to open was what is now called the Orange Line.  In its current configuration it does a unique almost-loop around center city, in part sharing mileage with the Blue Line, before heading out to Gillespie Field in El Cajon. 

The newest route to open was the Green Line, which goes east from Old Town Transit Center -- its first seven stops stops were formerly part of a Blue Line extension out to Mission San Diego -- and then eventually joins up with the Orange Line in La Mesa.  Those lines run together into El Cajon, and then the Green Line extends out one further station to Santee Town Center.  In total there are over 53 unduplicated route miles on the system.

The series is divided into five sections.  First to be examined is activity on the near-circuit through and around downtown.  Next is the Blue Line south to the border.  Third is the Blue Line north to Old Town, followed by the Orange Line, outside of downtown, out to Gillepsie Field.  Finally comes the Green Line, those portions that are not duplicated with the Orange Line.   

The above photo is of a train inside the America Plaza station downtown, one of the main points for interchange between the Blue and Orange Lines.  The Green Line never makes it into the center of the city.