Copper Line - East County Connector

MTS is proposing the Copper Line, a new East County Connector to service stations between El Cajon Transit Center and Santee Trolley Station. The proposed Copper Line would serve each station every 15 minutes, and run from approximately 5:00 a.m. – midnight every day. If approved, Copper Line (East County Connector) service would replace existing Green and Orange Line Trolley Service east of El Cajon Transit Center. Riders traveling east of El Cajon could transfer to the Copper Line at the El Cajon Transit Center (where both the Green and Orange Line would stop service).

The proposed Copper Line will be presented to the MTS Board of Directors for approval at the June 20 meeting. If approved, service would start September 1. 

Why Make a Change?

The Copper Line is primarily being proposed to improve the reliability of the Green and Orange Lines, not just in East County, but throughout the system. Benefits of starting the Copper Line would include:

  • Service Reliability: Discontinuing Orange and Green Line Trolley service east of El Cajon Transit Center and implementing the Copper Line would allow for greater reliability on the Green Line, preventing trips from turning around at Gillespie Field on an unscheduled basis. In addition, it's expected that overall on-time performance would improve, meaning riders have more reliable transfer times, and fewer delays. 
  • Extended Green Line Trips: Green Line Trolley service would be extended later at night, and Sunday service would terminate at El Cajon Transit Center instead of stopping short at the SDSU Transit Center. 
  • Traffic Stop Improvements: If approved, MTS would operate one-car trains on the Copper Line, rather than three-car trains. This would reduce the wait times and lessen traffic at the Mission Gorge Road and Cuyamaca Street intersections.

Copper Line at a Glance

  • Stations serviced:
    • El Cajon Transit Center
    • Arnele Trolley Station
    • Gillespie Field
    • Santee Trolley Station
  • Operating hours: Approximately 5:00 a.m. to midnight
  • Service frequency: Every 15 minutes most of the day
  • Operated by a one-car Trolley
  • Estimated start date: September 1, 2024

Proposed Trolley System Map which includes the Copper Line stations from El Cajon to Santee

Background

When the Trolley tracks were constructed between Gillespie Field and Santee Trolley Stations, single tracking had to be used along Cuyamaca Street. The single track, along with the traffic signals at the intersection of Mission Gorge Road and Cuyamaca Street, result in delays with Green Line Trolleys. These delays often impact Orange Line Trolley service as well, and cause riders to miss bus and Trolley transfers further west. To reduce these impacts, Green Line Trolleys are often unable to complete their route to Santee and are turned around at Gillespie field at least once a day.

The Copper Line is being proposed in an effort to increase reliability and on-time performance for the Orange and Green Lines. Approximately 8% of current riders on the Orange and Green Lines are expected to be required to make a transfer to the Copper Line, if approved.  

Proposal

  1. Terminate Orange and Green Line service at the El Cajon Transit Center (September 2024)
  2. Start new Copper Line (East County Connector) Trolley service between El Cajon Transit Center and Santee Trolley Station (September 2024)

Public Comments: Copper Line (East County Connector)

MTS is requesting Public Comment on the new proposed service until June 19, 2024 at 1:00 p.m. Please provide comments on the proposed Copper Line (East County Connector) using the form below. MTS will hold outreach events at transit centers and community events as well. In addition, riders are invited to virtually attend the June 20 MTS Board of Directors meeting, where the Board of Directors will vote on whether to approve the proposed Copper Line service. 

Submit comments in person at:

  • Tuesday, May 14, 2024
    2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
    El Cajon Transit Center

  • Wednesday, May 22, 2024
    2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
    Santee Station

  • Thursday, May 23, 2024
    2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
    Arnele Avenue Station

All comments will be submitted to the MTS Board of Directors at the June 20 Board of Directors meeting.

How do you get to the Trolley station?
What are the most important things to you if MTS starts a new Copper Line (pick up to three)?