Veterans honored at VA Medical Center trolley station.

Veterans are conspicuously honored at the new VA Medical Center trolley station. The station opened for service last month as part of the San Diego Trolley’s Mid-Coast extension. If you’d like to see photos from the Blue Line extension’s big opening day, click here.

Plaques and flags representing five branches of the United States Armed Services, and words like Duty and Sacrifice embedded in the station’s platform, salute those who’ve worked to defend our nation and the freedoms we enjoy.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Sunrise over San Diego’s trolley and rail yard.

I was walking around the San Diego Convention Center this morning, looking for cool stuff popping up for this weekend’s Comic-Con Special Edition, when I had to pause on the Harbor Drive pedestrian bridge and marvel at the brilliant sunrise.

I took these two photos of sunrise above downtown’s trolley and rail yard.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

San Diego’s Mid-Coast Trolley extension debuts!

Today was the big day! San Diego’s new Mid-Coast Trolley extension opened for regular service! And there were free rides and a big public celebration at the main UCSD campus station!

The greatly lengthened Blue Line now serves nine brand new trolley stations between Old Town and the UTC shopping mall. Much of the new line runs along Interstate 5 and is elevated. So imagine the great views!

I had to take photos, of course! And check out each new station!

A huge crowd turned out, and in some of the cars passengers were packed like sardines. But everyone was having a fun, memorable experience. Families with kids were everywhere, and the kids were especially excited!

I took loads of photos–so many, in fact, that I’ve left them somewhat unedited. But they provide a sense of what the day was about.

Here we go! Starting at the Old Town Transit Center, heading north…

Another trolley heads north from Old Town. Beyond that distant Interstate 8 overpass, the Mid-Coast Trolley extension passes over the San Diego River and Friars Road, then heads along Morena Boulevard into Bay Park.
Peering through the driver’s compartment. What lies ahead?
Passing over the San Diego River. Those other trolley tracks veer eastward into Mission Valley–the Green Line which I often take to work.
Passing over Friars Road. Some environmental work still underway, left over from creating new railway bridges.
I step off at the Tecolote Road station and take a photo of the trolley continuing on north. While I waited for the next trolley, I asked MTS ambassador Pat about possible new public art along the Mid-Coast Trolley extension, and she thought it would be cool to have owl art at this station. Tecolote is Spanish for owl!
I got on the next UC San Diego Blue Line train and have already arrived at the Clairemont Drive station.
There it goes!
Here comes the next trolley!
Heading north past Mission Bay we could see water and palm trees in the distance.
It’s getting noticeably busier at the Balboa Avenue station! A sizeable parking lot here was used by many passengers on this free ride day.
The trolley continues north toward Rose Canyon. You can see Mount Soledad in the distance on the left.
A path for pedestrians and bicyclists heads toward Balboa Avenue.
Bicyclists descend to Balboa Avenue.
Lots of passengers on this special day!
Heading north past industrial buildings by Rose Creek. Climb those hills to the east and you’d find yourself in Clairemont.
Autumn scenery is a bit blurred as we move rapidly along.
The Amtrak and Coaster train tracks, which we’ve been traveling beside, now veer northeast toward Miramar. We soon veer a bit west to pass over Interstate 5 and commence an elevated journey beside the freeway.
Our first glimpse of Golden Triangle office high-rises and the exotic temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Pulling into the Nobel Drive station, which is across the freeway from the distinctive Mormon temple.
Folks walk along the station platform.
Looking back south. Some construction is still going on.
Look both ways!
Looking north. You can see the big VA Medical Center building in the distance, to left of center.
Continuing on the trolley north.
Approaching the VA Medical Center station. The best photo I managed to get at this moment. (The trolley car was jam-packed!)
We’ve arrived!
Flags and plaques honor the five branches of the Armed Services at the VA Medical Center station. I’ll be posting more photos that I took here shortly.
One last look down at the freeway before we curve our way into the large campus of UC San Diego. I took photos of Mid-Coast Trolley extension construction some time ago from this same bridge.
There’s a good deal of construction activity around the new UC San Diego Central Campus trolley station.
Here we are!
The trolley cars emptied here as people flooded down toward a big Mid-Coast Trolley extension opening day celebration and festival!
Somebody already got a cool new shirt!
Down some stairs we go.
Lots of stuff going on beneath the elevated station!
A sign indicates the Grand Opening Celebration event is this way!
That’s the big celebration in the distance. Meanwhile I spotted these dancers.
It’s the San Diego Dance Theater! They perform the annual Trolley Dances! You’ve seen them many times before on Cool San Diego Sights!
Oh, man! Look at that line! I’m afraid I didn’t have the patience to wait. More places to go today…
I did take a photo from outside the big Grand Opening Celebration event. They had a huge stage for speeches and entertainment. And kettle corn, of course!
Heading back under the UC San Diego Central Campus trolley station I noticed this cool public art. Words and phrases fill the plaza! I’ll blog more about this later.
Heading up stairs on the station’s other side.
A view of UCSD campus construction near the new trolley station. UC San Diego has been expanding like crazy the past few years.
More construction photographed from the same stairs.
The top of the elevators to the station platform.
Well, here we are a short time later at the UC San Diego Health La Jolla station. That’s quite a mouthful!
The longest station name ever.
Not much action at this station. A MTS worker is keeping things clean.
Looking around.
We’re now on our way to the Executive Drive station.
I’ve arrived at the Executive Drive trolley station near the heart of University City. Gleaming office buildings are all around. That pedestrian bridge provides easy passage to one nearby building.
From here the Blue Line heads south above Genesee Avenue for a short distance.
I see the UTC shopping mall a short distance to the south.
I watch a trolley head toward its final destination–the UTC Transit Center.
I’m riding there now!
Look at all the passengers disembarking!
At the UTC Transit Center trolley platform, on the west side.
Stairs head down to a nearby parking lot.
MTS buses at the UTC Transit Center below, on the east side of the trolley platform.
People head into the popular UTC shopping mall.
One last look north up Genesee Avenue.

That is a little of what many experienced on this day, November 21, 2021.

History was made in San Diego!

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PRONTO transit ticket machines go live!

The new PRONTO ticketing system for transit in San Diego and North County is now operating. I received confirmation today from an MTS Supervisor.

This morning, before boarding a Green Line trolley at the Gaslamp station, I noticed one of the PRONTO ticket machines has been uncovered. And it’s ready to go!

The new PRONTO ticket machines appear somewhat similar to the old Compass Card machines. Compass cards will be gradually phased out.

You can learn more about PRONTO, and how this new fare system is more functional and convenient here.

If you ride the bus or trolley, all September trips will be free with a PRONTO card!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

The downtown Silver Line resumes service!

The San Diego Trolley’s Silver Line recently returned to service. After a long period of inactivity during the COVID-19 pandemic, the historic cars that operate on the downtown loop route can now be seen on weekends!

Late this morning I enjoyed the Lemon Festival in Chula Vista. (I’ll blog about that event shortly!) I then returned downtown, hopped onto beautiful vintage PCC streetcar 530 and rode much of the Silver Line loop.

As we headed down the track, curious people on sidewalks watched us and listened to the car ding-dinging with astonished eyes.

Learn more about the Silver Line and its restored trolley cars here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Celebrating the trolley’s 40th Anniversary!

Thank you all for transporting me around the city, and for your friendly waves! I’ve loved trains since I was a kid!

A special public event was held today at the E Street trolley station in Chula Vista. The 40th Anniversary of the San Diego Trolley was celebrated!

A big crowd turned out to enjoy free entertainment, food and drink, and booths with transit information. As one might expect, there were also short speeches by city dignitaries, including representatives of the Metropolitan Transit System.

San Diego’s “first” 1981 trolley car–Number 1001–was parked on one of the station’s tracks, right next to several more recent, advanced trolley cars. Good old “1001” is now one of the cars that loop through downtown as part of the Silver Line. (I was told today the Silver Line will be resuming operation next week!)

Back in the 80’s, the first trolleys ran from downtown San Diego to the San Ysidro border crossing. Today, three major lines cover much of the city, and the Blue Line’s Mid-Coast Extension to Mission Bay and La Jolla is scheduled to open in just a few months!

It was interesting to hear in one speech how the trolley might one day be wireless, or even autonomous. Technology is rapidly advancing. It will be fascinating to see what the future brings!

As a very frequent rider of public transit, thank you MTS! If anyone reading my blog wonders how I spy interesting new things, it’s often by looking out a trolley or bus window!

MTS CEO Sharon Cooney addresses the crowd during the 40th Anniversary of the San Diego Trolley. The audience was very enthusiastic!
After the speeches, there was exciting breakdancing!
If one waited in line for a short while, there were oodles of free treats!
The two most recent models of trolley cars at the E Street Station. The 4000’s and 5000’s look pretty similar.
A car from 1981. This particular car, looking very shiny, now transports people around downtown on the Silver Line, along with a couple of older vintage PCC streetcars.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Public art at 70th Street trolley station.

Riders of the San Diego Trolley might not notice any public art at the 70th Street station at first glance. This Green Line station in La Mesa, which opened in 2005, has a simple, practical appearance, with the usual benches and a nearby parking lot.

Curious eyes, however, will see a number of sculpted markers in the vegetation, and quotes written on the bases of 36 light poles on either side of the trolley tracks.

The cast metal markers relate the historical importance of native San Diego plants, and indeed these very plants can be found nearby–or at least it was that way originally. Most of the markers explain the importance of each plant to the Native American Kumeyaay people, who inhabited this land for thousands of years before the arrival of Spanish explorers.

This very unique public art was created by Nina Karavasiles. You can see more of her work here and here and here. She also helped design the Rosa Parks Memorial at a San Diego Mesa College bus stop, which I recently blogged about here.

Artwork at the 70th Street trolley station also includes bits of recycled colored glass embedded in the platform. Cobblestones from nearby Alvarado Creek that were obtained during the station’s construction were used to create planters and the bases of benches.

Girls tied redbud blossoms to their shoulders and waists for the spring ceremonial dance of womanhood.
Deer grass. The principal foundation material for coiled baskets.
This plant used as a diuretic medicine gets its astringency from tannic acid. Bear berry.
Before going hunting the Diegueños rubbed white sage on their bodies to eliminate odor.
Early miners used it to deter fleas. Coastal sagebrush.
Fresh elderberry leaves produce a light yellow dye for baskets.
Arroyo willow. Kumeyaay use shredded bark to pad cradle boards in which women carried their babies.
The sycamore was an indicator to California natives that underground water or a stream was nearby.
The oak can live for 250 years. It takes 8 months for the acorns to mature. A family of 4 would gather 500 pounds for the next year. They would travel here and set up temporary camp to harvest the acorns, collecting them in conical baskets. Acorns are 20% fat, 6% protein, 68% carbohydrates.

The following photographs show just a few of the quotes inscribed on the light pole bases. Most have an environmental theme, and of these, most concern the importance of water.

All the stones here have been gathered from the original Alvarado Creek.
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. Ralph Waldo Emerson
The average annual rainfall in La Mesa is 13 3/4 inches (2004). The average American uses 150 gallons of water a day.
Many of the world’s people must walk 3 hours to fetch water.

Ready for some fun? Part of the answer to the cryptic Alvarado trolley station riddle (which you can see and solve here) can be found in one of the above quotes!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

First PRONTO ticket machine at a trolley station!

I’m a frequent user of public transportation in San Diego. I live downtown and work in Mission Valley. There are several different combinations of buses and trolleys that I can take for my commute. So I have a convenient monthly pass on my MTS Compass Card.

But there’s a new ticketing system on the way this summer that will replace the Compass Card. The new system is called PRONTO.

Today I saw the very first PRONTO ticket machine, which has been installed at the Convention Center trolley station!

If you want to learn more about PRONTO and how it will work, check out this website.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Trolley extension progress near UC San Diego.

If you’ve recently driven up Interstate 5 through University City, you’ve probably observed great progress has been made building the Mid-Coast Trolley extension.

Curving beside the freeway, crossing over it twice, in many places raised up high in the air, this new trolley line will connect Old Town with UC San Diego, the Westfield UTC mall, and a number of stations along the way. This northward trolley expansion is scheduled to open next year!

Most of the structures appear to be in place. I’ve noticed work crews are now stringing up electrical overhead lines. (An overhead wire is also called a catenary. This unusual word is an important clue that will help you solve the mysterious Alvarado trolley station riddle, which you can read here!)

This morning, at the end of a long walk through a quiet University City, I crossed over I-5 at Medical Center Drive and snapped photos of the Mid-Coast Trolley construction in both directions–south and north. My walk concluded at the Gilman Transit Center, a couple blocks farther west.

Looking south from the bridge you can see how the new trolley line curves past the VA Medical Center Hospital, where there will be a station. Another station beyond that, high above the freeway, will be located at Nobel Drive.

After I crossed the bridge, I turned my camera north to photograph the new Pepper Canyon at UCSD West trolley station. From there the line curves eastward, crosses the freeway at Voigt Drive, and will serve passengers boarding and disembarking at UCSD East near Scripps Memorial Hospital.

I’m looking forward to riding the Mid-Coast Trolley when it’s completed. Looks a little like a twisty amusement park ride. I bet the views will be great!

The following photos are looking south toward the Veterans Hospital…

The next three photos are looking northwest, into a small corner of UC San Diego…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Ride the bus or trolley free to vote!

This coming Tuesday, November 3 is MTS Free Ride Day!

The annual day when anyone can ride the San Diego Trolley or any transit bus for free coincides with Election Day in 2020. Even though most polling places aren’t far, and many will be voting by mail this year due to the unusual COVID-19 pandemic circumstance, having Free Ride Day on Election Day seems a great idea!

If you try riding the bus or trolley for the first time on Tuesday, make sure to bring your face covering.

I happened to see the above banner as I waited yesterday at the City Heights Transit Plaza for the 215 Rapid bus. Because I live and work near convenient transit centers, I always purchase a 30 day regional pass, which allows me to ride trolleys and most buses each month wherever and however I choose.

If, like me, you have things to do during your commute, or simply want to rest or look out the window, going by bus or trolley is a great option. Being a photo blogger and writer of fiction, I can be on the lookout for new “Cool San Diego Sights” or people watch!

Yesterday I rode transit from downtown San Diego to Normal Heights to City Heights to Lakeside and back to Balboa Park! Yes, way out east to Lakeside! I even got a photograph of a cowboy!

Stay tuned for many, many more blogs!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!