The number of airline passengers who used the border crossing linking Tijuana Airport to a service terminal in San Diego County increased by over 50% last year, data shows.
The Pacific Airport Group (GAP), which operates the Tijuana Airport, reported that just under 4.19 million people used the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) pedestrian bridge in 2022.
The figure is 52% higher than the 2.75 million people who used the CBX in 2021 and 44% above the prepandemic 2019 level.
The pedestrian bridge, which opened in 2015, is about 119 meters (390 feet) long, and can only be used by people flying into or out of Tijuana Airport. A “regular season” one-way ticket costs US $26.95 to go from Tijuana Airport to the San Diego side and $23.95 in the opposite direction.
GAP general director Raúl Revuelta last year attributed a significant increase in passenger numbers at Tijuana Airport to the opening of the CBX.
Data shows that 12.3 million passengers used the airport in 2022, up from about 9.7 million the previous year. When the CBX opened in late 2015, the airport was handling approximately 4.8 million passengers per year.
Infographic showing how use of the CBX land border crossing has increased since 2019.
Meanwhile, the Baja California government is considering putting a proposal to United States authorities that would expedite Tijuana-San Diego border crossings for some residents of Tijuana.
Under the proposal, Tijuana residents who have tickets for the San Diego Trolley light rail system would have their own exclusive pedestrian crossing, allowing them to enter the U.S. border city much more quickly than is currently the case.
According to a Feb. 8 report by The San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper, Baja California Economy and Innovation Minister Kurt Honold said during a recent visit to San Diego that the state government is studying the idea with a view to formally presenting it to U.S. authorities.
Instead of waiting for two or three hours to cross into San Diego, Tijuana residents who work in that city and rely on the trolley to get to their place of employment would be able to enter the U.S. “much more quickly” if they had their own exclusive crossing, he said, one that would start at CBX and lead them to the Ped East pedestrian bridge in San Ysidro.
Some Baja California officials have suggested a separate entrance at CBX for people who cross regularly back and forth between the two countries and use San Diego’s public transit station at the San Ysidro Port of Entry to commute into the city. (MTS)
“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, there is already the famous CBX,” Honold told reporters.
San Diego’s light rail system has a line that links the San Ysidro Port of Entry to the city’s downtown. An average of 13,000 passengers per day get onto the trolley at San Ysidro, according to data from the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS).
An MTS spokesperson said that the transit authority is aware of the Baja California government’s proposal and supports it, according to the Tribune. A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said that agency is also aware of the idea but it’s too early to comment on any involvement it would have. CBX officials told the Tribune that they have no involvement in the proposal.
Tens of thousands of Tijuana residents, including U.S. citizens, cross into San Diego on a daily basis to work and study.
Jorge Alberto Gutiérrez, head of the Baja California Institute of Sustainable Transport, said that an exclusive border crossing for trolley users could help reduce the number of cars crossing the border and thus reduce pollution.
The executive director of the Smart Border Coalition – a group dedicated to seeking “creative and practical solutions to improve movement for all legitimate travel through the ports of entry in the San Diego-Tijuana binational region” – also applauded the initiative.
“The idea is very good,” Joaquín Luken said.
With reports from The San Diego Union-Tribune