Friday, October 14, 2011

Get to the San Diego Beaches by Bus!

[updated November 25, 2012]

San Diego has many fabulous beaches - and almost all of them are reachable by bus. I'll visit a few ways to get to the beach by bus. As much as you'd like to take the Trolley to the beach, it just doesn't go there so a bus will be involved.  Remember that if you don't have a monthly pass, buy a Day Pass for $5 if you're riding more than twice in a day. MTS doesn't give free transfers. Also, MTS has a special fare for families - on weekends, two children under 12 ride free with a paying adult.

Always remember to plan your trip before you go if you're confused by using Google Transit (part of Google Maps).  MTS has a great page that describes how to use Google Transit on their website or on your mobile phone.  You can also use the Google Transit trip planner built right into this blog.

Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Mission Bay , and Mission Bay Park
Everybody loves Pacific Beach (PB)! PB has great beaches, plenty of volleyball courts, a very nice boardwalk, restaurants, and bars. It's a great place to tan, play Frisbee, volleyball, rollerblade, bike, or just walk around. Mission Beach is just as fun, and Mission Bay Park is a great place to have a day of fun near the water.

What's even better, there are four bus routes that serve this area. The core of these routes are the 8 and 9. Route 8 operates between Old Town Transit Center and the beach communities via Mission Bay Drive and Mission Blvd. The fare is $2.25 per trip (or $5 for a Day Pass including the Trolley). The routes each run every 15-20 minutes most of the day. You can bring your bike and your surf board. Take the Trolley or bus to Old Town and transfer.

Route 30 operates between Downtown San Diego (on weekdays only), Old Town, the beaches, UCSD, and La Jolla/UTC. It operates every 15 minutes every day of the week. It's really the fastest way to get from Downtown San Diego and the beaches on weekdays. On weekends, catch Route 30 at Old Town Transit Center (you can take the Green Line from downtown San Diego). The fare is $2.25. Bikes are allowed.  Route 30 is the best way to get to the Banana Bungalow Hostel.

Route 27 operates between Kearny Mesa and Pacific Beach. It operates every 30 minutes on weekdays, every 90 minutes on Saturdays, but no service on Sundays. The fare is $2.25. Bikes are allowed on board.

Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach (OB) has great beaches, restaurants, and is a little more laid back than PB and MB. MTS Route 35 travels between Old Town and OB every 30 minutes, every day of the week. It's a very popular route during the summer because it also connects OB'ers to the Midway shopping area and Kobe's swap meet.

Route 923 runs between Downtown San Diego and OB on weekdays and between OB and the San Diego Airport on Saturdays with 30 minute service on weekdays and 60 minute service on Saturdays. It connects Downtown with the Airport, the Point Loma Hostel, the OB Hostel, and arrives just blocks from the beach in OB. Be careful - the route has limited hours on weekdays and Saturdays - don't get stuck after a few too many beers! On Saturdays, to get between OB and Downtown San Diego, you'll have to transfer to/from Route 992 at the airport.

Coronado Beaches
Coronado has wonderful beaches. Take Route 901 from Downtown San Diego across the Coronado Bridge and get off at the Hotel del Coronado. Route 901 runs every 15-30 minutes on weekdays, every 30 minutes on Saturdays, and every hour on Sundays. You can also get to the beach on weekdays by taking the Coronado Ferry from Downtown's Broadway pier and then transfer to Route 904 (hourly service, timed to connect to the ferry).

Imperial Beach
While Imperial Beach (IB) isn't exactly world-renowned, it does have a beach area and a nice boardwalk. Take Routes 933/934 (6-15 minute service, seven days per week) from the Iris Trolley Station.

San Diego has so much to offer&emdash;and you can get there by bus!

Get to the San Diego Zoo By Bus!

[updated November 25, 2012]

The San Diego Zoo is extremely easy to get to by bus! I know you really want to take the Trolley there and avoid the bus altogether, but until that happens sometime in the distant future, you'll need to take Route 7.

Route 7 runs every 7-15 minutes all day long on weekdays and every 15-20 minutes on weekends (during Zoo hours). The fare is $2.25 per person ($1.10 for senior/disabled) and children under 5 are free. On weekends, two children under the age of 12 ride free with each paying adult. If you are riding three or more transit vehicles on your round trip, purchase a $5 day pass on the first vehicle you board or at the first Trolley station you visit.

From Downtown San Diego / South Bay / Trolley
If you are coming from Downtown San Diego:

  • Weekdays:  Just board any Route 7 bus along eastbound Broadway (at 3rd Ave., 5th Ave., etc.) and it will take you all the way to the Zoo!
  • Weekends:  Take the Blue or Orange Line trolley to the City College Station and transfer to Route 7 on the 11th Ave. side of the station. The trip takes about 7-10 minutes from there. Tell the driver you want the zoo stop. 
 On the way back, the bus stops across the street and takes you back to Broadway or to 10th Ave. where you can transfer to the Trolley.

From SDSU/El Cajon Blvd./Adams Ave.
Take Route 1 or 11 to Park Blvd. & University Ave. and transfer to a southbound Route 7.  You can also walk south on Park Blvd. from here but it is about 1 mile south.

From La Jolla / University City / UCSD
  • Weekdays:  Take Route 30, 50 or 150 to any stop on Broadway in Downtown San Diego and then follow the Downtown instructions above.  
  • Weekends:  Take the Route 30 to Old Town and transfer to Route 10 towards El Cajon & College or I-15 & University.  Get off Route 10 at University Avenue & Park Blvd.  Transfer to a southbound Route 7 on Park Blvd. toward Downtown from there.  You can also walk south on Park Blvd. from here but it is about 1 mile south.

From Old Town
Old Town Transit Center's main feature is the Trolley and Train platform.  You can use the Trolley to get to the Zoo but it requires a lot of transfers (two Trolleys and a bus).  I suggest using the bus only because it is faster and easier.  However, I've included both sets of directions below.
  • Bus Only (Faster): Take Route 10 towards El Cajon & College or I-15 & University. Get off Route 10 at University Avenue & Park Blvd. Transfer to a southbound Route 7 on Park Blvd. toward Downtown from there. You can also walk south on Park Blvd. from here but it is about 1 mile south. 
  • Trolley & Bus (Slower): Take the Green Line Trolley to Santa Fe Depot. Transfer to the Orange Line Trolley on the same track to El Cajon. Get off four stations later at City College. Transfer to any Route 7 at the bus stop on 11th Avenue.

From La Mesa/University Ave
Take Route 7 all the way to the Zoo!

Find Bus Stop Numbers in San Diego

Want to know what time the bus will get to your stop in San Diego for the Metropolitan Transit System?  It's easy!  All you need is a phone that has a texting capability.  MTS calls its system GO! (

1)  Find your stop number.  Most bus stop blades have bus stop numbers on them:

  • A private developer has developed a stop finder which will help you find your stop number directly from the browser on your mobile phone.

  • Other stops have the stop number on the pole display in the lower left corner.  

  • MTS's website ( has the stop number lists on each route's scheduling page.

  • Google Maps also has stop numbers when you click on the bus icons on the map. They call it a Stop ID.
  • MTS itself doesn't have an app for real time arrivals, but there is one application in the Android Market called Trip Beacon that helps find your stop number and assists in sending texts and saving frequently-used stop numbers.  Here's a link to the app in the Android Market.
2)  Text the stop number to GOMTS (46687).  You'll receive a reply shortly with times of arrival for that stop.

  • Some buses in San Diego have GPS on-board and you'll get a real-time arrival for that bus. The real time arrivals have a # mark in front of them.  For all other routes you'll get a scheduled time of arrival.
  • If your stop has multiple routes but you just want to get the results for one route, you can send the message stop number [space] route number.  This will return only times for that route.

Good luck and good riding!

Quick Way to La Jolla, University City and the Beaches

[updated November 25, 2012]

Did you know that there's actually several ways to get back and forth between Downtown San Diego, La Jolla, University City, and the beaches?

Between Downtown and the beaches, you can take Route 30 on weekdays from Downtown and from Old Town on weekends. Fare is $2.25 ($1.10 for seniors/disabled). Route 30 runs every 15 minutes 7 days per week! You can catch the route at most stops on Broadway in Downtown or at Old Town Transit Center.  Old Town Transit Center is a great place to catch Route 30 if you're coming from Mission Valley. Route 30 is your only way to go all the way to La Jolla on weekends, as the other faster express Routes 50 and 150 don't operate on weekends.

During the week, if you're going all the way to University City, you can take Route 150 (or Route 50 to UTC Mall). The fare on these routes is $2.50 ($1.25 senior/disabled) since they are express routes for most of the trip. You can catch either route downtown at the stops on Broadway and at Route 150 stops in Old Town as well. Route 150 is much faster in getting to La Jolla since Route 50 meanders through Clairemont on its way up to University City. They run either on a 15 or 60-minute headway throughout the day on weekdays only.

Route 30 Map
Route 30 Map

Getting to the San Diego Airport (Lindbergh Field) via Trolley, COASTER and Bus

[Updated November 25, 2012]

Did you know that it's easy to get to San Diego International Airport (Lindbergh Field) via public transportation? Every version involves Route 992, the Airport Shuttle. Don't let that high number scare you. 992 just means that it's run by a contractor of the Metropolitan Transit System. The only difference you'll notice is the luggage racks.  I know you want to take a train to the airport, but there is no such connection in San Diego.  Plus, the bus drops you off right at each terminal (Commuter, Terminal 1, & Terminal 2), just steps away from check in counters.

To get to the San Diego Airport (Lindbergh Field), take:

  • the COASTER to Santa Fe Depot
  • the Trolley Blue or Orange Lines to America Plaza or Green Line to Santa Fe Depot (via foot, cross Kettner Blvd to America Plaza Trolley Station where the bus departs from)
  • the bus to any stop on Broadway in Downtown San Diego

The stop for Route 992 at America Plaza is on Broadway at Kettner next to Starbucks (across Kettner Blvd. from Santa Fe Depot). There's a bus shelter there with an "Airport Flyer" sign on the side. Service is every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends almost all day. The bus will take about 10-15 minutes from there to reach any airport terminal (Commuter Terminal, Terminal 1, or Terminal 2).

The fare on Route 992 is $2.25 ($1.10 for seniors or disabled with ID). If you are boarding a Trolley or another bus first, keep in mind that there aren't any free transfers. If you are riding three or more vehicles to get to the airport, buy a Regional Day Pass for $5.00 when you board the first vehicle. If you work at the airport, buy a Regional Day Pass so you can use it coming back home. The Regional Day Pass expires at 4:00 a.m. the following day, so if you work after midnight, you can still use it (even though the 992 service stops earlier than midnight). If you travel on weekends, two children under the age of 12 ride free with each paying person over age 18 on the bus and trolley!

To get back to downtown from the airport, catch the bus at one of the four stops at the airport and it will take you to Broadway & Kettner (Santa Fe Depot/America Plaza) where you can catch the Trolley or COASTER. You can transfer to other bus routes all along Broadway if your trip requires another bus.

Make a Trip Plan Before You Go!
As always, I suggest that you make a personal trip plan for your trip to the airport.

  • Use Google Maps.  Click on the text to the left and type in your starting address, date, and time.
  • Go to the MTS website's trip planner and type in your starting address, select Airport from the landmark list, and type in your ARRIVAL time at the airport. I would suggest putting in 30 minutes before you need to be there to have a cushion of time because buses do break down and things do go awry sometimes. You can also call 511 and the operators there will be glad to help you.

If you know any hints or tips, please forward them along to me or just leave a comment!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Google Transit

[updated November 25, 2012]

Trip Planning

Have you seen that San Diego MTS is on Google Transit? Google Transit is a really cool feature of Google Maps that lets you plan transit trips in cities that are currently participating in the project. You can plan trips for all MTS and NCTD bus, Trolley, Sprinter, and COASTER routes.

Bus Stop Locations

What's a really neat feature is the ability to see where all of the bus stops and Trolley stations are in the MTS service area. If you go to Google Maps and zoom into the map near where you're starting or where you're going, you will see the bus and trolley icons. If you click on the icons, Google Maps will tell you what the next scheduled time the bus departs at that bus stop or trolley station! In San Diego, you can also turn on the Transit Layer to see if transit goes near your origin or destination.

Try it out. It is also available on most mobile phones with the Google Maps application, or on the Maps application on the iPhone (through iOS5).

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Regional Transit Map

Did you know that the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) has new regional transit maps good for the entire San Diego County, including NCTD? They're dated June 2007 and take into account all of the recent changes they made to the system.

They are always hard to come by, but if you send $1 to MTS, they'll send you back a map!

Send your $1 and your return address to:

MTS Marketing Department
Regional Transit Map Request
1255 Imperial Ave, Suite 1000
San Diego, CA 92101

Sunday, January 28, 2007

MTS Service Changes for January 28, 2007

There are some significant changes to the MTS bus system beginning on January 28, 2007 (for weekends) and on January 29, 2007 (for weekdays). The January and March 2007 service changes are the last two major service changes of the Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA) that MTS completed recently. You can find the complete details of the changes on the MTS website at:

Most of the changes are schedule-related. However, some significant changes are happening to several routes.
  • Route 20 - The Route 20A only will now travel on Kearny Villa Rd. between Balboa Ave. and Clairemont Mesa Blvd. The 20 used to use Kearny Villa Rd. before the changes that sped up the route. However, due to Route 990 being discontinued, there was a need to add service back to Kearny Villa Rd. on a limited basis to back up Route 120.
  • Routes 980/990 - These routes are being discontinued. The routes will be covered by Route 20 (in the case of the 990) and the 860 is picking up most of Route 980's passengers.
  • Routes 810/820/850/860 - These routes are being changed - mostly by discontinuing part of the route and changing the downtown routing a bit.
  • Route 7 - This route has major schedule changes - be sure to pick up a new timetable.
  • Routes 14 and 923 - these routes are being reduced to hourly on weekends.
  • Routes 31/921 - Route 31 was discontinued on weekends and a new Route 921A is being run instead through Mira Mesa on Mira Mesa Blvd. There was a public hearing regarding this change.
  • Route 992 - The airport shuttle Route 992 now only serves one trolley station directly - America Plaza. The bus travels through the Gaslamp quarter all day long instead of just during the day.
Call MTS Telephone Information for a new trip plan at 1-800-COMMUTE or 619-233-3004. Their trip planner online is a great resource for personalized trip plans (sometimes you just need to do a sanity check on the directions it gives). The trip planner is located at You can also go to their website at to get all of the new schedules.