A funny thing happened on the way to the bus stop …

by on October 15, 2010 · 32 comments

in Culture, Economy, Popular, The Widder Curry

bus in OBLast Sunday I decided to go see a play downtown. I didn’t want to pay the price for parking, so decided I would take the 35 bus to the trolley station and then take the Blue Line from there. I got all ready to go, allowing myself plenty of time to get there, and went to the bus stop on Sunset Cliffs and Pt. Loma Ave.

Guess what? On Sunday there is no 35 bus on Sunset Cliffs and Pt. Loma Ave. Where do I have to go to catch it? Niagra and Sunset Cliffs is the new stop. That’s over one mile from where I live. And…if I were walk to the new bus stop and take it to the trolley station to attend the play, the last bus leaving Old Town to return to Ocean Beach is at 7:45pm. How would I get home then if the play was not over yet? Or if I wanted to have a drink with friends to discuss the play? Or…….? Take a taxi?

And the Supervisors wonder why ridership on the Metropolitan Transit System is down?

bus stop Newport Cable

Bus stop at Newport and Cable.

There used to be still another way to go downtown from Ocean Beach. That was to take the 923 bus. They eliminated that route entirely for those of us living south of Newport, but during the weekdays you can still catch it by taking the 35 to Newport/Muir – and transferring to the 923. That bus takes you directly downtown. Except, of course, on Saturday, when you can only go as far as the airport and then transfer to the 992 and take it to the City College Trolley Station and walk the rest of the way. Of course, if you wanted to catch an airplane on Sunday, you are out of luck, because the 923 doesn’t run on Sunday.

And…while I am still ranting: Let’s say that I went to a play at the Civic Theater on a weeknight by taking the bus. Getting there would not be as much of a problem as trying to get back home.

Why? The last bus leaving the trolley station for Ocean Beach is at 10:47pm. That means I would have to take an earlier trolley to be at the station to catch the Ocean Beach 35. Taking it one step farther: What if the play didn’t end until 10:30pm. Would I have to leave during the final act in order to catch the bus home?

What if I were at a Padre’s game and it went into extra innings? Would I have to leave the park early and not see the finish of the game because I might miss my bus home?

Ron Roberts, in an article appearing in the San Diego U-T on Thursday, October 14th, blames the economy and unemployment for the drop in ridership. Funny, if the economy is one of the reasons people are not riding the bus/trolley, then why did the MTS raise their prices a few months back? I suggest, Mr. Roberts and members of the board, that instead of adding new routes you take a good look at the existing routes and add to them instead of taking them away entirely. If I were to work downtown –or parts south – there is no way that I could take advantage of the transit system and still keep a viable household.

Until the transit system is user friendly to the beach area, I will still be driving my car, polluting the air, and wondering why other cities I have lived in have solved the problem that San Diego keeps making worse.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar ss October 15, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Just drive to the trolley station It is easy enough and plenty of parking.
But your right public transportation here sucks.


avatar judi October 15, 2010 at 2:28 pm

You are right – going to the trolley station is one way of combating the problem. My problem is that I have cataracts and the light at night bothers me. I try not to drive at night because of that glare from the cars. I would prefer taking public transportation if at all possible.

But..good suggestion.


avatar Ernie McCray October 15, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Hey, I hear you, Judi. I’m at that age where night driving just ain’t nowhere near how it used to be. I used to wonder what it was with “old people” not wanting to drive at night. Now I know, not to mention that I’m glad I’ve lived long enough to know.


avatar judi October 15, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Isn’t it the pits, Ernie. I hear we are about the same age and I used to get so angry at my mother who would say, “just wait until you are my age.” I never thought that I would do ANYTHING she did. Wrong! But I would never let her know. (Hope her spirit is not reading this!)


avatar dave rice October 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm

I’m a half-blind 28 year-old, and I’ve had problem with night blindness for 5 or 6 years myself…no fun when the glare from headlights is amplified first by my windshield and again by my glasses. So you’ve got empathy from a young’un…

On the bigger issue, I did the math on public transit a couple years ago when I worked in eastern Clairemont…I’d have had to take a walk to the bus to the trolley to another bus to another walk, and it would’ve taken a minimum of 2 hours for an 11 mile one-way trip. Instead of spending 4 hours and up to $10 a day commuting (which would’ve made it impossible to get my daughter from school before her after-school program shuts down at 6), I spent about $2 on gas and clogged up the road with a single occupancy car. Even figuring I spent an extra $40 a month on gas, that’s not even halfway to a bus pass.

In cities like New York, Boston, and DC where public transit works, trains run every 3-5 minutes, buses every 10-15. Unless we can get something like that throughout the trolley system and on at least the core bus routes, I don’t see ridership increasing much…but unless ridership increases, the income won’t justify expansion. You can only stop flying missions if you’re crazy, but not wanting to fly more missions proves you’re sane…


avatar judi October 16, 2010 at 9:05 am

Great post, Dave. When I lived on the east coast I marveled at the fact that I did not have to have a car; I didn’t have to pay car insurance; and I never had to wait for public transportation. Then I was transferred to the Bay Area, and lived on Treasure Island. And, guess what? I didn’t need a car there either. Public Transportation in the Bay area is fast and on time; cheaper than driving a car, particularly if you have to pay the tolls; and I could get almost anywhere I wanted to go with a very minimum of effort. Then I retired and came back to San Diego, where I can’t even catch a bus on Sunday.

I just took some chicken soup to my daughter that lives by the stadium because she is sick, and passing me on Sunset Cliffs was a 35 bus. And flashing across the FRONT, where the “35” is, was a neon sign that said something like ” . . . . go with the flow; exit out the back door.” Hell, I can’t even get in the front door let alone exit out of the back door. I wonder how much the PR department was paid to come up with that slogan?


avatar Natalie Wardel October 15, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Unfortunately cuts to the MTS operating budget in recent years has affected service in Ocean Beach. The move from the terminal on Sunday in February was due to a cut in funding from the state. As money is restored to the operating budget, the MTS Board of Directors is committed to restoring service; some service was restored in September.

Unrelated to the move of the terminal, but related to Ocean Beach transit is that the construction on Cable Street recently moved bus stops to Sunset Cliffs Blvd.

Transit service is based on funding and demand — you can email mts.planning@sdmts.com to express the need for transit service.


avatar judi October 15, 2010 at 3:58 pm

There are many of us that live in Ocean Beach/Pt. Loma. One of the most scenic areas in San Diego are the Cliffs, yet the buses no longer run along the cliffs, and there is more and more congestion along the street because there are no buses and more cars. People that work/live in this area no longer have access to any public transportation.

Why was Ocean Beach singled out to be cut and not other areas of the city. How can the board justify raising the price of a ticket when the bus is not even running in the area? What Ocean Beach service was restored in September? Not being able to take a bus on Sunday hardly shows me that the board is serious in their restorations.

You are right. The move of the bus stops is unrelated to the problem of not being able to catch a bus in the neighborhood. Moving the stops one block may be an inconvenience, but not nearly as bad as not being able to take a bus at all.

When weekly I pick up the paper and find all the new routes that are proposed, at an enormous cost, it is very difficult for me to believe that the
cuts in the budget only affect those of us in Ocean Beach/Pt. Loma. Otherwise, how can the board justify new routes when they have done away with the old ones. (This answer reminds me of the scare tactic telling us if a new health program goes into effect, our grandparents, when ill, will come up to a board that will decide whether they live or die.)

Perhaps if the fares were lower; buses more accessible, there would not be as big a drop in ridership as Mr. Roberts alluded to on Thursday. I wonder how many of the board members rely on public transportation in San Diego. Probably not too many if they live in our area. After all, they can’t catch a bus, and, if they do, they have to be home before dark.


avatar dave rice October 15, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Continuing my earlier rant, service hours are a tremendous problem, especially when, as you suggest Judi, I want to go downtown for a play, a concert, or a ballgame. In the cities I mention above, full service runs until 1 or 2 a.m., with limited service just about round-the-clock. As it is, the times when car owners might want to use public transit are when they want to have a few drinks during a night out – but if the transportation network shuts down before the theater does, they’re screwed.


avatar judi October 16, 2010 at 9:09 am

Continuing with your rant is great! Because I have foreign language students living with me that are here to learn English, almost everyone of them (301 at this count) – have complained that they love living here, but it is hard to be with friends, take in a movie, have a drink, go out to dinner, and get home before the last bus runs. Maybe the downtown proprietors need to make a fuss with the transit board. I wonder if they know how much potential monies they are losing.

And it isn’t just trying to get downtown. It is nigh impossible to take an evening class at SDSU and get home on time. If class lets out at 10:00pm and you have to walk to the trolley station from the other side of campus, you are screwed.



avatar Marisag October 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm

I miss Transport of London. I lived there for three years and my 13 bus came every two minutes during most of the day, and every half hour between 2 and 5 a.m. I would rather stab myself in the eye with a fork than be dependent on San Diego public transport.


avatar judi October 15, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Well, that is pretty drastic, but your chances of being stabbed in the eye with a fork while waiting for the SD transit is probably pretty good too. I always wished I could car pool, but the times I was off work varied every day and could never take advantage of it. I have some old eye patches if you ever need one.


avatar dave rice October 15, 2010 at 9:59 pm

I had a co-worker that lived on Muir back when I had a real job, but because I was usually in an hour earlier and out an hour later, we only ended up carpooling once a week or so.


avatar judi October 16, 2010 at 9:09 am

And you were lucky at that!


avatar Sarah October 15, 2010 at 6:25 pm

OB could use a “community car pool” or a c0-owned car program. I’ve pondered this for the past two years.


avatar judi October 15, 2010 at 6:37 pm

I wonder if it would be profitable. Where would it meet; where would it go; how often; how much?

San Francisco has “van pools” – from Oakland to San Francisco – and back. But San Diegans are so different than San Franciscans – and OBeacians are SO different.


avatar Sarah October 15, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Exactly, Judi, we’re almost “different” enough here in OB to make such a thing work.

All I know is that I’ve designed my current life around not having to commute or participate in the rat race and I’ve been car-free for almost two years but I find myself not attending to things I should. I put off things like medical appointments, friendship maintenance evenings with non-OB friends, shopping and volunteer work because I don’t have instant access to convenient transportation.

I’ve been thinking that I would much rather give some amount of money each month into a “pool” and have access to a car once in awhile than to take on the financial and logistical burden of owning a car.

I have a local friend who lets me use her car when I need to and in return I fill the tank, if it doesn’t need gas maybe I’ll wash it. It’s not too many steps from that sort of arrangement to an actual co-op sort of thing. right?


avatar judi October 15, 2010 at 7:58 pm

That’s a great idea and should be doable. There would be certain logistics that would need to be taken care of, not just insurance, but space, the car itself, a calendar, etc.

I wonder how many others would be interested in such a thing. I wonder if you could also throw in a “chauffeuring” feature, so that if you wanted to go somewhere, say, at night, that someone would like to drive for a few dollars.



avatar Sarah October 16, 2010 at 11:59 am


I wonder if it would be as easy as starting a “car pool” or ride share page on a website somewhere?

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to meeting you sometime in the near future and if we hit it off, feel free to ask me to drive you sometime. As long as you don’t stay out ’till the wee hours of the morning I’d be happy to help!


avatar judi October 18, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Thank you.


avatar Shane Finneran October 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Have you hear of Zipcar? Used to be called Flexcar. You can rent a car in increments of 1 hour. Cars are parked in spots all over big cities, so you shouldn’t have to travel to far to find one. When you’re done, you park it back where you found it.

There used to be a Flexcar parked near intersection of Sunset Cliffs and Voltaire – not sure if it’s still there, but maybe worth looking into if you’re looking for occasional car use.


avatar dave rice October 15, 2010 at 10:03 pm

I remember the zipcar – was a white Nissan, if I recall correctly. Haven’t seen it parked around OB in a while…and when I looked into it out of curiosity it seemed kind of cost-prohibitive.


avatar judi October 16, 2010 at 9:12 am

It is an interesting concept. Who ran it? Was it all over SD? Could you take it to a place and leave it in a designated spot for the next person, or did you have to use it for a “round trip?”


avatar judi October 16, 2010 at 9:11 am

Don’t know about it Shane. Tried to find out info after this post, but nothing current came up. Anyone else know about it?


avatar judi October 16, 2010 at 9:17 am

Just did a little more research and it seems that the zip car is available to students at UCSD and/or USD. Very interesting website. I would suggest people that want to know about this go to Google and put in “zip car.” There is a lot of info.


avatar Obvious Solution October 16, 2010 at 9:30 am

Just vote for more light rail.


avatar judi October 16, 2010 at 9:42 am

Would love to – how? when? where? Did you hear that LA just got a huge grant from the Federal Government for better transit? What’s SD doing?


avatar BillRayDrums October 17, 2010 at 5:01 pm

We did that back in the early 1990’s. Where’s all the light rail we were promised?


avatar justmy2cents October 16, 2010 at 9:58 am

Maybe that’s why all those kids live under the pier , they cant get a bus ride out of OB to the homeless shelters.


avatar judi October 16, 2010 at 9:40 pm

You might be on to something!


avatar ilovetheoutdors October 17, 2010 at 8:51 am

Under the pier ? Do you mean behind the businesses on newport? That crowd is getting bigger. They have condos made out of garbage cans and tarps?


avatar charley October 17, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Isn’t mass transportation FUN ?
We should all give up our cars so the government can decide when, where, and how far we go based on “the budget”.
If you want some interesting reading look up why the light rail system we once had was eliminated in San Diego/Pt.Loma in favor of buses – it all had to do with large corporations.


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