Though rated amongst the best in cost savings across the nation, the San Diego Trolley is set to undergo an expansion that will cost quite a bit more than just a pretty penny, especially when compared to previous production costs which were significantly lower – by a whole order of magnitude – for a longer strip of track.
It took just five years for the first leg of the San Diego Trolley to go from idea in 1976 to the start of operations in July 1981. The line was 15.9 miles from downtown to the border, was financed entirely with state and local money – no federal help required – and opened on time and under budget at a cost of $111 million, or just under $7 million a mile.
Compare that to the latest estimate for the proposed Mid-Coast trolley line from Old Town to La Jolla. It is projected to be operational in 2018, if all goes well. The line is 11 miles, will require the feds to pony up half the money, and the new cost projection is $1.7 billion, or more than $154.5 million per mile.