Sunday, March 02, 2014

BUS STORY # 382 (San Diego, Part One: The Compass Card)

We decided to celebrate our anniversary with a trip to San Diego. Neither of us have been, and Mrs. Busboy was anxious to go somewhere warmer.

We read guidebooks and consulted with friends. We settled on a hotel on Mission Bay, then prioritized what we wanted to do over our three days there.

Good food and hiking the Torrey Pines State Reserve were shared priorities. Mrs. B wanted to see the zoo, and to add San Diego to her collection of “duck tours.” I wanted to use the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System at least once.

Back in Bus Story # 203, I told the story of a co-worker from San Deigo who told me how wonderful the SDMTS really is. He was bummed ABQ RIDE wasn’t at the same level of service.

Also, we had friends who’d recommended taking the trolley. The trolley was part of the SDMTS.

I started doing my homework

As luck would have it, our hotel is close to a bus stop for the # 8 (Old Town via Mission Beach) running every 30 minutes, and every spot we’d picked to visit was accessible by a combination of bus and trolley.

Fortunately, because we’d had such a good experience with MUNI in San Francisco last summer, Mrs. Busboy was open to using the San Diego system whenever possible.

The SDMTS has a good website. I quickly discovered I could get a four day pass including the bus, the trolley, and regional transportation as well, for $15.00. Two passes would likely cost us less than parking.

The good news is I could purchase the pass online.

The bad news is first-time users need to have a Compass Card ($2.00) to purchase a pass, and the Compass Card cannot be purchased online. I would have to make that purchase in San Diego, in person, at the MTS Transit Store, or at one of the regional transit centers, or at select “community centers,” or at any Albertson’s in San Diego County.


I used the “Contact Us” function on the SDMTS website to verify my understanding of the Compass Card business. We had two exchanges, and, yes, unfortunately, I understood correctly. (I have to add the responses were quick, clear, and to the point.)

At least I was familiar with using Albertson’s to buy passes here in Albuquerque.

So: our first vacation adventure upon arriving in San Diego was locating the Albertson’s closest to our hotel and purchasing two Compass Cards loaded with a four day regional pass.


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