As you drive
along the San Diego Freeway in Oceanside, you probably will notice
a station on the eastern side of the freeway. That's where Coaster begins
or ends at its northernmost point. The last stop on the south end of Coaster
is at the Santa Fe Depot station in downtown San Diego. That location
is a few blocks from Seaport Village, Horton Plaza, Gaslamp District and
the harbor where cruise ships, ferries and boat tours are located.
We were told that the Coaster costs less than Amtrak to ride, but only
serves San Diego region. See
California Trains & Trams
Computerized ticket booths at the Coaster
stations sell tickets with prices based on zones. Charts on the machines
show the zones and prices as color coded boundaries. From Solana
Beach to downtown San Diego took us through two zones. The ticket
cost around $4.50 one way. There are savings when you purchase quantities
of tickets or a monthly pass.
After you buy a ticket, you have
to use the machine to have it stamped with a time and date. From the time
it is stamped, you are allowed 2 hours to use the ticket and to make transfers.
We're not going to go into the details of rules and regulations about this
procedure because you can find the updated and accurate information on
websites such as www.sdcommute.com or by calling 1-800-COMMUTE.
What's good to know is that San
Diegans love public transportation and they claim it is easy. Without
a pen and paper, we can't remember the numbers of buses, the corners of
streets, etc. So what we were told is to call the number above if
you get lost. The public transportation system supposedly takes people
to just about every location and attraction in the region, including Tijuana,
which is the way to go there for day trips, considering the border back
up can take several hours.
What we enjoyed about Coaster was
the clean cars and decor, the comfortable temperature, the great views
from our window and speed of travel. On our previous trip to San
Diego, we stayed at Loews Coronado Bay Resort and never drove our car in
three days. We took local buses and the ferry and got around pretty well.
NOT driving a car can be a vacation. In San Diego, public transportation
provides opportunities to meet people or relax and watch the scenery, which
is something you can't do well while driving.