SAN DIEGO — Civic and transit leaders said Wednesday a newly completed three-mile dedicated bus lane along El Cajon Boulevard will reduce traffic congestion and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

The improved stretch of "The Boulevard," as it is sometimes known, between Park Boulevard and Fairmont Avenue was also designed to speed up bus service and increase usage along a corridor with more than 10,000 daily transit passengers.

"San Diego is on a journey to create a cleaner future for folks now and in the future, and the Boulevard Bus Way is the latest example," Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. "We're slashing greenhouse gas emissions with transportation improvements, increasing mobility options and installing hundreds of miles of new bike lanes. This type of low cost, high-impact infrastructure is how we encourage people to get out of their cars and try public transit."

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The project was a collaboration between the city, the Metropolitan Transit System and the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association. Over the next 18 months, MTS will evaluate the effectiveness and safety of the project.

"The Boulevard Bus Way is a forward-thinking, faster-moving approach to mobility. It is a great example of how the region needs to think differently about mobility," said MTS Board Chair and San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. "It will help create better transit options for local communities, attract new riders, and build on the great success of the Rapid bus network we've been building."

To celebrate the completion of the lanes, MTS and the San Diego Association of Governments will offer free rides on the Rapid 215 bus line through Jan. 17. Additionally, the Media Arts Center and some local businesses are offering promotions for those who show their Compass Card or Compass CloudApp, including Bluxom Salon, Dojo Cafe, Ceramic Heights, Tiger! Tiger! and El Borrego.

Tootie Thomas, executive director of the El Cajon Business Improvement District, was excited to see the effects of the project.

"The Boulevard Bus Way gives us an opportunity to increase transit ridership, decrease wait times and bring the community together. This all makes for good business on The Boulevard," she said.

The Climate Action Campaign and the BQuest Foundation announced they will donate more than 50 shade trees to be planted along El Cajon Boulevard between Interstate 15 and Highland Avenue.

The Boulevard Bus Way is one of the projects tying in to San Diego's Climate Action Plan, which seeks to eliminate half of the city's greenhouse gas emissions and put San Diego on 100% renewable energy usage by 2035.