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!

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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!

Solve a riddle at the Alvarado trolley station!

Ready to solve a San Diego riddle?

Put on your thinking cap!

At the Alvarado Station of the San Diego Trolley, a long riddle appears near the top of the wall that separates this Green Line station from Interstate 8. The very clever public art was created by Roman De Salvo in 2005. The first part of the riddle is now partially obscured by plant growth, but I’ve been able to ascertain the exact words.

Can you solve the mysterious riddle? After racking my brain and coming reasonably close, I checked out the nearby Braille answer! (And learned a little about Braille in the process.)

Leave your guess as a comment, and I’ll let you know how close you are!

(Hint #1: If you can’t make out the words in my photographs, that’s unimportant. I’ve transcribed the words for you. Hint #2: If you’re unfamiliar with this part of San Diego, it helps to look at a map.)

ARTERIES VEINS AND CAPILLARIES FOR AUTOS RAIN AND CATENARIES ALL THREE LINES ARE SIDE BY SIDE ABOVE BELOW AND STRATIFIED ONE IS NUMBERED LESS THAN NINE ANOTHER WAS HERE AT THE DAWN OF TIME THE LAST WILL BE HERE AFTER A WAIT OR RIGHT AWAY IF YOU’RE NOT TOO LATE LOOK AROUND TO SOLVE THIS RIDDLE NAME ALL THREE TOP BOTTOM AND MIDDLE IF BEWILDERED FEEL THE HANDRAIL THE ANSWER THERE IS WRIT IN BRAILLE

The above sign on the waiting platform contains a little information about the Alvarado Medical Center Station’s unique riddle:

…Each word in the riddle is inscribed on individual stone tiles. The words form a pattern along the top of the south wall visually reinforcing the rhythm of the words. In classical frieze tradition, the reader is encouraged to walk along the station platform form one end to the other…

(If these photos seem a little unnatural, I’ve increased the contrast and darkened them slightly so one can make out the words.)

Did you figure it out?

Share your guess as a comment below!

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!

Your bus or trolley photo on MTS 2021 calendar!

Cool restored Silver Line trolley at Fifth Avenue station.

Do you live in San Diego, or have plans to visit? Are you a rider of the bus or trolley? Are you a photographer at any level who loves a challenge?

San Diego’s MTS (Metropolitan Transit System) might put one of your photographs on their upcoming 2021 calendar!

If you’ve taken a great photo outside or inside an MTS bus or trolley, or perhaps a photo from a station platform, you can submit your image to be considered for inclusion in next year’s official MTS calendar. If your image is selected, you’ll get credit plus your own free calendar.

The deadline for submission is October 15, 2020. Your photos must meet certain requirements, such as being high-resolution and in JPG format. You can learn all about what you need to do on this page.

Why not give it a try?

Sounds like fun!

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!

Six years of colorful Comic-Con trolleys!

It’s mid-June. If this were an ordinary year, brand new trolley wraps would be rolling out right now for San Diego Comic-Con. But, alas, like most events, Comic-Con has been cancelled in 2020 due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

I’ve photographed just about every Comic-Con trolley wrap that has appeared in the past six years. As mobile billboards, they’re used to promote popular entertainment–primarily new or ongoing television series. They’re designed to catch the attention of Comic-Con fans and create a sense of anticipation and excitement.

This year I’ll miss watching the weeks of preparations that lead up to the world’s greatest pop culture convention. Seeing streets, buildings and trolleys massively transformed for the epic event is one more thing that makes living in downtown San Diego so much fun!

If you, like me, are saddened by the cancellation of Comic-Con in 2020, I figured we could revisit these very colorful trolley wraps from the past six years. How many do you remember or recognize?

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

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!