|@ Deer Park Monastery, ~7 mi from the Escondido Transit Center|
[This began as a post to carfreesd.]
Yesterday I walked and took public transit from Deer Park Monastery to Point Loma. Here are some discoveries and impressions:
The Transit Alliance for a Better North County was advertised in one of the buses I rode:
My memory of the ad: "Stay informed about local, state, and national funding decisions affecting transit." A bunch of funny fish-eye-lens photos of (only white) people with thought bubbles wondering why transit is so poor / is having funding cut / etc.
North County Transit District gave me the impression of being more caring and progressive than south county's MTS.
Some reasons transit has a nice feel up there:
- More helpful documentation in buses: a full book of schedules and maps; a sympathetic letter from the transit director about budget issues; a nice newsletter (Compass Cards delayed until March!). All bilingual.
- Specially-designed shirts--a sort of Hawaiian floral+bus motif, as well as other branding.
However, I did get on the wrong bus for a fast arrival to the Escondido Transit Center (leaving from near Escondido High School, "Cougar Country")--the routes and where to catch the bus going the right way can be confusing. . .
I used http://transit.511sd.com/TripPlanner/index.asp on my cellphone to help plan my trip. Too bad they don't have a mobile version of the site (transit.google.com doesn't work--at least for North County?). I also just suggested (at the MTS web site) that they let us text from a bus stop to get the next bus arrival time. . . but most people use their cell phones to talk and could call 511 somehow? I use mine mainly for data.
Even though there is a ban on cigarette smoking at stops, people still do it--everywhere: Oceanside TC: many smokers; VA Hospital (1); Old Town TC (1); and other bus stops I walked by. This is something that bothers me. Sometimes I mention the ban to the smokers, other times I just try to get to windward.
The clouds of smoke near bus stops and transit centers (even after smoking has been banned there) make me feel we need to ban cigarette smoking entirely/help everyone quit/make burning cigarettes illegal in any public place (and enforce the ban) in order to get more people to use public transit!
I also notice so many of the new vehicles (The Sprinter, the new MTS buses on the 7 route) are floored/walled with vinyl that offgasses. So, I walk on the new bus (advertised with a billboard: "New, Sleek!" http://www.sdmts.com/Marketing/NABIbuses.asp -- also, they somewhere advertised a contest [ending 1/31] encouraging people to send in photos of these new buses), and the first thing I notice is the strong headache-inducing smell of (what I think is) vinyl. At least they smell better from the outside: they are natural gas-powered.
Perhaps MTS uses its budget more effectively than NCTD---I can't really say.
I also saw a wraparound trolley farebox ad for Hazard Center listing the many things one can do there. Getting one's car washed was right in the middle. But then many trolley/bus riders may have cars? At least they're funding transit with their ad? http://www.hazardcenter.com/retailers.html (auto spa).
It took a long time (~11am - 530pm) but I got from Deer Park Monastery, Escondido to Point Loma for $5, with good long walks at either end. It was an interesting ride, going through varying communities (Escondido High students; Palomar/San Marcos students; two young hookie skateboarders who liked to laugh at my odd costume, it seemed; VA Hospital vets; UCSD students; on and on--the public space of public transit.). Instead of paying $4.50 more for the Coaster ride, I took the 101 (a scenic ride!) and the 150 (this bus actually went on a highway!! a first-of-a-kind experience for me in an MTS bus).
If I had started my journey really early, I could have taken an express commuter bus from the Escondido TC, down the 15, to near City College.
At the end of the journey I left the car- and somewhat-smoker-infested area near the Old Town TC/Rosecrans & Midway, and walked through a canyon.
But as I approached my destination (Zola and Locust), I was overpowered by fumes from an old Landrover leaving from a fancy house. It had been warming up for some time and had filled the air--even 80+ feet away and uphill-- with devastating, breath-stopping exhaust. This is not an uncommon experience. How is it that to do that is legal? Portable gas chambers---
Two jetplanes, one immediately after the other, ripped the air overhead.
I'd like to end on a more positive note. I know now that I can get to a great 80 acres near Deer Park Monastery via public transit and about a three-mile walk--80 acres where I can (with permission) camp and enjoy peace, the view, good water, avocados, oaks, nopales, and cleaner air. If you'd like to go there with me some time, let me know!
Peace & a smile,