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Two weeks of the new commute - RonO's Ramblings

Oct. 24th, 2008 07:40 pm Two weeks of the new commute

Today marked the end of the second week of what should be my regular commute for some time to come. At this point I'm taking public transportation three days a week, and driving two days a week. And I've come to several conclusions and observations.

First, driving from Oceanside to Sorrento Mesa in the mornings isn't too bad, driving back in the afternoon is the pits. I'll admit to seeing a similar pattern going between UTC and Sorrento Mesa during our first couple of months here, but it is more noticeable on the long commute. If I leave the house about 7:00am, I'm at work by 7:45 or 8:00. Still a longer commute than what I had in Chicago, but not too bad. The traffic flows most of the way, and it is 90% on the freeways.

In the afternoon, the reverse commute takes me well over an hour. I'll admit that I'm adding some time to stop by the mail box, but even taking the extra 20 minutes that takes into account, the trip home is much longer.

Second, from my somewhat limited experience the Coaster has got to be one of the most scenic commuter rail lines in the country. For about half of the run from Oceanside to Sorrento Valley, it is looking out over the Pacific Ocean (if you are on the west side of the train), and is often passing through bluffs that separate it from the cities it passes through. Only right near the Oceanside Transit Center is it passing behind a bunch of apartments and businesses. Just before I get off, it crosses a lagoon and heads into the wild part of Sorrento Valley. Unfortunately, I miss that scenery in the mornings since I'm working my way towards the doors to get off.

Third, the Sprinter has to be one of the neatest little trains in the country. I suspect that it officially sits somewhere between "Light Rail" and "Commuter Rail" since it runs on regular train tracks, but the cars are these little self-driving sports car like cars. Since it is only a couple of years old, the cars are still in really good shape. If you sit near the front, as I did yesterday, you can look through the smoked glass into the control cab, and it is a pretty high tech area. I only take it three stops, so I don't get to experience too much of it, but it is fun.

Fourth, I've noticed that a large number -- or at least a very noticeable number of train commuters around here cannot wait to smoke. Almost daily I have to walk through at lest one cloud of smoke when getting on or off a train. It is perhaps worst at the Oceanside Transit Center, but it has happened at my Sprinter stop as well.

Fifth, I'm intrigued that my monthly Coaster pass is good for any bus, trolley or train in San Diego county, except for the Coaster from Sorrento Valley to the Santa Fe depot (downtown), and on the shuttle vans between the Sorrento Valley train station and the various businesses and institutions in that area {a list that includes all Qualcomm's San Diego locations, two major hospitals, a university and probably an equal number of smaller businesses}. So every month, I have to pay an additional $40.00 -- or an additional $2.00 each day -- to ride the shuttle. Even my MTS bus pass ("good for fares up to $2.50") doesn't work. To get me through this month I picked up a bunch of $1.00 coins since they are much easier to fish out of my pocket than bills from my wallet. Happily, none of the drivers has said a word about them. I've been afraid that they'd think I was trying to pay them a single quarter.

Sixth, I've noticed some interesting commuter destinations served from the Oceanside Transit Center. Each morning when my Sprinter arrives, it meets a Metrolink train bound, if I read it correctly yesterday, for Riverside. The other afternoon, however, I noticed a bus from the Riverside Transit Agency picking up people and taking them to Tamecula and Murietta. I doubt, however, that anyone takes the bus to Oceanside and the train back to Riverside for anything other than a joy ride. But using the bus-train combination through Oceanside to get from southern Riverside County to parts of San Diego, Orange or Los Angles counties might be faster than driving or taking a seemingly more direct route on public transportation. {I'm not even sure that there are rail connections other than between Riverside and the line from Oceanside through Anaheim.

Seventh, tonight I discovered that from our house, it is easier to take public transportation to get to Disneyland than the San Diego Zoo. The MTS doesn't have any bus lines that directly connect either the Old Town Transit Center or the Santa Fe depot with Balboa Park, but the Metrolink and the Amtrak Surfliner both stop a the station in Anaheim (apparently in the ballpark parking lot) which is served by the Anaheim Resort Transit. If (or more precisely when) we got to Disneyland, I'll strongly consider taking the trains just to avoid driving in LA/Orange County traffic. We'll just have to make sure we leave early enough and don't stay too late.

I expect my commute to stay about the same until we give up the mail box in UTC, or until robot_grrl has to start working earlier than she can drop Derrick off and I have to adjust -- either catching the Sprinter a few stations further East, and an appropriate amount earlier, or driving to the Oceanside Transit Center directly, skipping some of the 20 or so minute layover I've got there each morning.

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