Locals get by with a little help from the MTS

by Staff

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Some say that public transportation and bike riding will help everyone. Like some kind of fairy tale, the economy would bump back up, pollution would float away and traffic would disperse. But is it really all that easy?

Below is an overview of some of San Diego’s transportation alternatives.

San Diego MTS Trolley
“The San Diego Trolley is known for its reliability, safety and convenience. Often called San Diego’s “moving landmark,” the trolley is also a fun way to get around…,” according to the Web site for the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System.

“I think the metro in Los Angeles County is more convenient,” Eleanor Corcoran, a social work senior said. “For example, the San Diego Trolley requires you to step up three steps so if you have a bicycle, like me, it can be a pain. Plus, it’s a lot more expensive in San Diego.”

When it comes to safety, Corcoran said that she feels pretty safe taking the trolley. “There’s always a few crazy people. You just need to keep your distance and it’s usually OK.”

The San Diego MTS trolley charges per trolley stop, so depending how far someone needs to travel it may not save money. Even though there are discounts for seniors, children and the disabled, it still can add up with or without a discount.

For people going to school or work during rush hour, the trolley stops every 15 minutes. But people who get home later in the evening could wait up to 45 minutes for the next one.

San Diego MTS Bus
“If you take the bus all the time, it can start to get expensive,” Timothy Krueger, mechanics and engineering and economics German exchange student, said.

Local routes for the San Diego MTS bus system cost around $2 per ride or $5 for a day pass. So even if someone is going just a few miles, it will cost about $2 to and from his or her destination.

Gas prices are expensive these days, but for most decent cars it would not cost $5 to go a few miles.

With traffic and parking problems, bikes are very popular in the College Area. Krueger just arrived to San Diego from Germany in August and made sure to purchase a bike right away.

“When you live close to campus, you really should have a bike. Unlike on a bus, on a bike you can leave whenever you want, don’t have to stop as often and you can take short cuts,” Krueger said.

To help improve the environment, many more people would need to be riding bikes. But for more people to be riding bikes, the streets would need to be designed to accommodate more bikes and keep pedestrians safe, too.

The San Diego Regional Bicycle Plan, written by Alta, has many recommendations on how to improve the roads for bicycles. For example, “sharrows” – a cyclist symbol painted in the lane that bicycles should be in, helps both the motorists and cyclists.

It also recommends colored bike lanes where cars and bicycles may cross paths. This way, all commuters are able to see who has the right of way.

Another recommendation is special bike only traffic signals. Because cyclists are supposed to follow many of the same rules as cars while driving, they should have their own signals, too.

“I think the streets here are in bad condition, compared to Germany,” Krueger explained. “The sidewalks are uneven and have a lot of holes.”

No matter how many people take the trolley, the bus or ride bikes, with more than a million people living in San Diego, it is hard to know if public transportation can really help the economy and environment.

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