Multimodal Mobility Planning in Vista, CA

  • Author: Laurel Schwartz
  • Date: March 14, 2024

In North San Diego County, the City of Vista is using a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Areas of Persistent Poverty (AoPP) grant to make its largest multimodal center more easily accessible for pedestrians and cyclists.

Last year, fourteen people died on the train tracks in San Diego County. Currently, only one city in the 3.3 million-person county has a grade separation between railroad tracks, roads, and pedestrian walkways, which could prevent pedestrian collisions. One study found that grade separations can decrease train strikes by 93%.

In addition to the danger to pedestrians, The Vista’s Transit Center (VTC) is located on a major artery, often resulting in major delays when trains come through every fifteen minutes. Further, the VTC is near a local fire station that is often inhibited by train traffic.

“The City of Vista would like to take a detailed look at the way bus and train passengers are accessing and leaving the VTC,” Sam Hasenin, Traffic Engineering Manager for the City of Vista wrote in an email. The city wants to “develop a plan of improvements in the form of infrastructure projects that can be implemented to enhance access to the station using various modes such as walking, biking and microtransit,” he wrote.

Community Outreach and Impact

The median home price in Vista, CA is $875,000, up 10.4% since last year (the US median home price is $417,700). That’s a major obstacle in a community where the median household income $88,715. The area around the VTC experiences persistent poverty, which makes it eligible for support under the federal Justice 40 Initiative, including the FTA’s AoPP program.

Vista, which is currently updating its General Plan, Vista 2050, holds regular workshops to solicit community feedback in both English and Spanish. Workshops are held online, and in the city’s different districts. As the City outlines the VTC, they plan to hold a community meeting with transit system users to better understand the issues they experience. When the City has outlined specific solution options, they will have a second meeting to gather additional input.

The community looks forward to this investment in its infrastructure benefitting the local economy and quality of life. “I’m thrilled to help bring additional affordable, safe, and accessible transportation options to Vista,” said Rep. Mike Levin, who represents the area in the US House of Representatives.  “This funding will benefit everyone who uses transportation infrastructure in the area, including the over 9,000 people living within a half-mile radius of the Vista Transit Center.”

Further, this project will help reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips, helping curbing pollution, and creating a safer mobility environment. “A grade separation…reduces congestion, which contributes to red light running and rear-end type vehicle crashes,” wrote Hasenin.


As Hasenin and his team begin upgrading this multimodal stop, he is mindful of the importance of partnerships. “Issues faced by current transit users are likely keeping prospective transit users from switching from the single-occupancy vehicle mode to transit,” he wrote.


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