Metropolitan Transit System


The Metropolitan Transit Development Board (MTDB) was created in 1975 by the passage of California Senate Bill 101 and came into existence on January 1, 1976. In 1984, the Governor signed Senate Bill 1736, which expanded the MTD Board of Directors from 8 to 15 members. In 2002, Senate Bill 1703 merged MTDB’s long-range planning, financial programming, project development and construction functions into the regional metropolitan planning organization, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).  In 2005, MTDB changed its name to the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS).

Board of Directors

15-member Board generally meets twice a month.  Members selected as follows:

  • Four appointed from the City of San Diego (the Mayor of San Diego and 3 San Diego City Council members)
  • Two appointed from the City of Chula Vista (the Mayor of Chula Vista and a Chula Vista City Council Member)
  • One appointed from each city council of Coronado, El Cajon, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City, Poway and Santee
  • One appointed from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors

Subsidiary Corporations

MTS owns assets of: San Diego Trolley, Inc. (SDTI); San Diego Transit Corporation (SDTC); and the San Diego & Arizona Eastern (SD&AE) Railway Company, which owns 108 miles of track and right-of-way. 

Areas of Jurisdiction

About 570 square miles of the urbanized areas of San Diego County as well as the rural parts of East County, 3240 total square miles, serving approximately 3 million people in San Diego County.


Provision of Services

MTS provides bus and rail services directly or by contract with private operators. MTS coordinates all its services and determines the routing, stops, frequencies and hours of operation.

Light Rail
Light rail service is operated by SDTI on four lines (the UC San Diego Blue, Orange, Sycuan Green and SDG&E Silver Lines) with a total of 53 stations and 54.3 miles of rail.

Almost 100 fixed bus routes and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complementary paratransit service (MTS Access).  Fixed route bus service include local, urban, express, premium express and rural routes.

MTS contracts with the San Diego & Imperial Valley (SD&IV) Railroad and the Baja California Rail Road, Inc. (BJRR) to provide freight service to San Diego shippers over SD&AE right-of-way. SD&IV shares certain tracks with SDTI, operating during non-service Trolley hours.

Operating Budget

Approximately $278 million annual operating budget; $96 million comes from fares. Fare revenue accounts for 34.5% of annual operating cost, one of the highest fare box recovery ratios among similar transit systems (FY18).


MTS generates 88 million annual passenger trips or 300,000 trips each weekday. To handle the demand, the agency schedules 7,000 trips each weekday, and has 128 trolley cars and 800 buses in its fleet (FY18).

Planning and Scheduling 

MTS is responsible for the service planning, scheduling, and performance monitoring of all MTS transit services.  Service adjustments occur three times per year and as needed to improve efficiency and customer service.


MTS receives funding from various federal, state, and local sources. The primary sources are the California Transportation Development Act (TDA), Federal Transit Administration (sections 5307, 5337 and 5339), TransNet funds (local sales tax) and fares.

Taxicab Administration

MTS licenses and regulates taxicabs, jitneys, and other private for-hire passenger transportation services by contract with the cities of San Diego, El Cajon, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City, Poway, and Santee.