MTS, UCSD Advertising Agreement not Going Over So Well With University Planning Group

Observations from the University Community Planning Group Meeting 10/13/15


The University Community Planning Group (UCPG) meeting last night at a Scripps office building in UTC was like any other presentations, comments criticisms and then the fireworks.

One of 14 items on the agenda for the evening was an information item: SANDAG Trolley Station Designs Including Signs and Naming Rights.

The SANDAG trolley station design presentation was pretty cut and dry with renderings of the stations. A lot of stainless steel, perforated metal panels, glass towers for the elevators, led lights and the platform paving material.  As far as trolley stations go or in this case light rail stations they looked nice.  Of course, some of the stops after Baboa are raised and are roughly 30′ concrete structures.

What did not go so well was when the PowerPoint presentation was handed over to Mark Olson, Public Relations Specialist, from Metropolitan Transit System (MTS).  Mr Olson was tasked with presenting visuals for the, $30 million over 30 years, advertising agreement,  MTS reached with UCSD Health for the naming rights of the Blue Line to the UCPG.

The 9 Blue Line stations names have been called called Tecolote Rd, Clairemont Dr and Balboa Ave.  Travelling north the station names;  Nobel Dr, VA Medical Center, Pepper Canyon at UCSD (West), Voight Dr at UCSD (East), Executive Dr and the final stop Westfield UTC.

The main complaint from the planning board geared towards Olson was advertising vs confusion of station names.  For example, at the Old Town where the extension of the Blue Line begins the proposed name is UC San Diego Health South Hillcrest.  The complaint by the University Planning Group if someone was taking the trolley with the intent to go to UCSD Hillcrest well they would be roughly 3 miles away from their destination of UCSD Hillcrest.

Olson informed all in attendance there will be a learning curve with a new trolley system.  There are bus lines from some stations, including Old Town which would in fact take them to UCSD Hillcrest.  There will be adequate signage and maps letting riders/visitors know where they are along with kiosks and MTS ambassadors at the stops to answer questions and guidance when the new line is live.

The Pepper Canyon stop would be UC San Diego Central Campus, the Voight Dr stop would be UC San Diego Health La Jolla.  The confusion, again the UCSD brand as the name of the station, but does not inform where you actually are located.

As Mr Olson took comments and provided answers it was clear the Planning Group members were getting more frustrated.  The presentation ended rather abruptly with Olson being cut off by the UCPG essentially telling him his presentation was over.  And with that the SANDAG reps and Olson left the building.  Where this leads as far as MTS, UCSD and the UCPG is to be determined at this point.

The anticipated start of construction for the Blue Line extension is Summer 2016.

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