Sunday, March 09, 2014

BUS STORY # 383 (San Diego, Part Two: “Frzzerclaken”)

You can read Part One here.

Just as in San Francisco, the routes and frequencies of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System combined with Google Maps made getting to where we wanted to go pretty easy. However, I learned quickly that I needed to make notes about which way to walk to some of those connections.

Sometimes we had two connections, sometimes three, to any given location. The longest we waited for a connection was 15 minutes, and one of those two times was because of a missed connection. (That story turned out to have a happy ending. Yes, it is part of this series.)

Most of our connections came in a couple of minutes. And every time we pulled into the Old Town Transit Center, our connecting bus was there waiting. It was impressive.

In fact, the punctuality of all the buses was impressive. Several times, our bus was right on the minute. There was only one time we experienced a late bus, the 7 from Balboa Park. It was ten minutes behind schedule when we boarded.

One of the big surprises is that none of the SDMTS buses we rode had an automatic voice annunciation system. This is the system that will clearly announce, for example, “Next stop, Lomas and Louisiana. Near side, far side. Transfer.  Routes 157,  766.” Or  "Lomas and Walker.  Los Altos Park.  Albuquerque Rose Garden." ABQ RIDE had recently upgraded to be ADA compliant. And I have to say, even for someone familiar with the city but not necessarily with the route or the location of stops not at major intersections, this system is enormously helpful.

But the San Diego buses have the driver announce destinations and stops into a microphone. So on the morning I missed my connection, I heard the driver announce “frzzerclaken.” Or maybe “frxxrquacken.” It was hard to tell. I did not hear “University and Park.” And the only reason I knew I’d missed my stop is because I was concentrating on the street signs because I couldn't make out any of the announcements. Had the streets not been well marked, we could have been riding forever on the streets of San Diego, the tourists who never returned... (This is not the case on the trolleys. The automatic voice articulates clearly.)

This is the only complaint I have about the SDMTS.

The drivers were friendly and helpful. No one got grumpy when I asked “Is this the bus to ______?” In fact, one of them saved my bacon when he explained I wanted the bus going the other way, which I would catch “over there.” Thank you, driver. Thank you very much.


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