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151The Transit Alliance for a Better North County + thoughts after a recent long transit trip

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  • Colin Leath
    Jan 24, 2009
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      North County Transit District gave me the impression of being more caring and progressive than south county's MTS.

      (I just came back from Escondido. . . )

      The Transit Alliance for a Better North County was advertised in one of the buses I rode:

      http://www.tabnc.com/
      "Stay informed about local, state, national funding decisions affecting transit." A bunch of funny photos of (only white) people with thought bubbles wondering why transit is so poor / is having funding cut / etc.

      ---

      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.
      • Specially designed shirts--a sort of Hawaiian floral+buses, as well as other branding.

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      However, I did get on the wrong bus for a fast arrival to the Escondido Transit Center (leaving from near Escondido High School, "Home of the Cougars")--the routes and where to catch the bus going the right way can be confusing. . .

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      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 their 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.

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      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. It is something that bothers me. Sometimes I mention it to them, other times I just try to get to windward.

      It makes me feel we need to ban cigarette smoking entirely/make the things illegal in any public place (and enforce the ban) in order to get more people to use public transit!

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      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 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.)

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      Perhaps MTS uses its budget more effectively than NCTD---I can't really say.

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      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).

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      It took a long time 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.

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      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. Ahh. 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 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.

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      I'd like to end on a positive note. I now know that I can get to a great 80 acres near Deer Park Monastery via public transit + a three-mile walk where I can 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!

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      Peace & a smile,
      Colin
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