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General Press Releases

Port of San Diego to Provide $400,000 for Free Electric Shuttle Program in National City

As a Port of communities, the Port of San Diego is providing $400,000 to the upcoming Free Ride Around National City (FRANC) Program via the Port’s Maritime Industrial Impact Fund (MIIF). Through the MIIF, the Port has directed $2.1 million in support of numerous efforts in communities adjacent to the maritime industry and terminals, such as youth programs, bicycle infrastructure, air quality improvements, noise reduction efforts, and more.

FRANC is being created by the City of National City (City), in partnership with Circuit Transit, Inc. It is proposed to be a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle shuttle system that ties together destinations in downtown National City, Old Town National City, and West Side National City. The FRANC Program will also provide first and last-mile connections between the 8th and 24th Street Transit Centers and waterfront employers like Naval Base San Diego, National City Marine Terminal, and more. The FRANC Program service area will also include the Port’s National City Bayfront, including Pepper Park, thereby providing a connector to the National City waterfront for the City’s residents and employees within the City.

FRANC will provide a clean and safe travel option, improving quality of life by expanding affordable travel options while improving air quality and public health through reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and criteria pollutants. 

“The agreement between the City of National City and the Port for the enhancement of the Free Ride Around National City (FRANC) will open the doors for access for the public throughout the community, including the tidelands,” said National City Mayor Ron Morrison.

“The FRANC Program will be a game changer for National City. This free shuttle service will open up so much more of the City for commuters and families to enjoy,” said Vice Chair Sandy Naranjo, National City’s appointee to the Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. “I am passionate about environmental justice initiatives and this is just one of many at the Port of San Diego to reduce and mitigate maritime-related impacts for those in the portside communities of west National City and Barrio Logan.”

“We are thrilled to bring Circuit's electric mobility solution to National City, as it ushers in a new era of sustainable transportation for the local community,” said Daniel Kramer, Circuit Vice President of Business Development. “With Circuit, we can embrace clean and efficient mobility options that prioritize the well-being of our environment and the people who call National City home. We are proud to join hands with the Port of San Diego and commend their remarkable efforts in electrification and emissions reduction. Together, we are paving the way towards a greener future, one ride at a time.”

The FRANC Program is in its final planning stages and is anticipated to run seven days a week. The City anticipates FRANC to begin operating by Labor Day 2023. Circuit also operates FRED San Diego, the on-demand free shuttle program that services the downtown San Diego area, and Chula Vista that offers free rides for seniors (55 and up) around Chula Vista five days a week. Circuit also recently launched similar services in Pacific Beach and Oceanside and will be launching in Carlsbad later this year.

In addition to funding from the Port for the FRANC Program, the City has been awarded $1.5 million from the California Air Resources Board’s Clean Mobility Options (CMO) Voucher Pilot Program. The CMO program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities.

Examples of MIIF-funded projects and programs to date include the installation of air fIlters at Perkins K-8 School in Barrio Logan; air filters for residents living adjacent to the industrial bayfront; support for the Monarch School Garden and Nutrition Program; contribution to the Bayshore Bikeway segment in National City; the Port’s Barrio Logan Nighttime Noise Study; and more. Impacts covered under MIIF include diminished air quality; visual impacts; excessive noise; heavy movement of vehicles or equipment through adjacent residential or commercial areas; or disproportionate degradation or use of public infrastructure, such as roads, streets, or sidewalks. Port member cities and public entities may propose projects for MIIF consideration. Proposed projects must show a nexus between maritime operations on tidelands and off-tidelands impacts that a specific project is expected to mitigate.

The MIIF is one of many of the Port’s environmental justice initiatives. In recent years, the Port has also spent more than $63 million on electrification and emissions reduction technologies, including shore power, an all-electric dual mobile harbor crane system, Port fleet electrification, a vessel air emissions capture and control system, clean trucks corridor deployment, and more. These and many other projects and initiatives are identified in the Port’s Maritime Clean Air Strategy.

About THE Port of San Diego

The Port of San Diego serves the people of California as a specially created district, balancing multiple uses on 34 miles along San Diego Bay spanning five cities. Collecting no tax dollars, the Port manages a diverse portfolio to generate revenues that support vital public services and amenities.

The Port champions Maritime, Waterfront Development, Public Safety, Experiences and Environment, all focused on enriching the relationship people and businesses have with our dynamic waterfront. From cargo and cruise terminals to hotels and restaurants, from marinas to museums, from 22 public parks to countless events, the Port contributes to the region’s prosperity and remarkable way of life on a daily basis.