August 2015 UPDATE: The San Diego Union-Tribune says the bridge will open in December.
ORIGINAL POST: Would you pay $15 to walk from Southern California into Mexico to save big money on airfare?
As I wrote last week for Aviation Week, a group of private investors is hoping that you will. The group is spending $120 million to build a bridge from San Diego to Tijuana International Airport. The bridge, called the Cross Border Xpress, will be staffed by U.S. and Mexican customs and immigration officers. The bridge is not particularly long, and the average person will be able to walk it in five minutes. (See this link for a press release announcing the project.)
It is supposed to open later this year. And that fee - about $15 - will be charged to passengers in each direction.
I figure it is both a crazy idea and a brilliant one. If you live in Southern California and you need to go to Mexico, the bridge could be a perfect solution. Once you cross it, you'll be in Mexico, so when you arrive at your destination, you won't have to wait in long immigration or customs lines. Domestic Mexican fares from Tijuana are cheap, another bonus. And you can get just about anywhere in Mexico from Tijuana with a nonstop flight. That's not the case from San Diego International Airport.
What you will not be able to do, however, is use the airport for cheap flights to the U.S. As far as I can tell, there's only one nonstop route from Tijuana to the U.S., and that's on Volaris to Oakland. Also, in this situation, you would have to clear immigration twice.
One interesting thing I learned is that about two million people per year are already crossing borders to use Tijuana's airport. It's just that now they use regular border crossings, which can be unreliable and have long lines.
What do you think of the Cross Border Xpress? Brilliant idea? Or fools errand?
Want to learn more about the bridge? The best coverage is probably this piece in Voice of San Diego: