MTS, North County to operate express buses for Chargers’ games


SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has given a temporary go-ahead to the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) to operate express buses to San Diego Chargers’ games, the team announced.

Both the MTS and North County Transit District had dropped plans to operate the buses this season because of a new FTA regulation designed to even the competitive playing field between taxpayer-subsidized transit agencies and private transportation companies.

The FTA’s decision to allow MTS express buses to operate came after complaints from fans, the Chargers, the transit agencies, Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, and San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre.

The NCTD was not included in the ruling, but the agency plans to offer Coaster train service to the Old Town Transit Center, where fans can hop on the trolley for a ride to Qualcomm Stadium.

The latest FTA ruling allows the public transit organizations to offer express buses for home games against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 7 and New England Patriots on Oct. 12, said Jim Steeg, the team’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

“We still need a long-term solution,’’ Steeg said. “The MTS bus service is critical for close to 6,000 fans each week. Without that service, the parking lot and trolley system will be severely impacted.’’

The ruling does not address five home games in November and December, Steeg said.

Filner called on the FTA to make the ruling permanent.

The decision came too late to re-establish the service for Saturday’s exhibition season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Fans are urged to carpool or take the trolley.