San Diego Trolley guards: Private citizen security or real police officers?

January 29, 2012 by · 15 Comments 


San Diego Trolley Guards: Private Security or Sworn Police?

    San Diego Trolley Guards think they are real police officers. Specifically, they think they are actual sworn peace officers but they aren’t; they work for Heritage Security, a private security company. What they are doing and saying in the video above they are doing as private citizens. The two arrests you see them perform in the video are citizen’s arrests. The problem I have is that the people arrested were placed in handcuffs, one because he smelled of alcohol and the other for smoking. Both of the guards also react rather rudely to my presence; one saying he would arrest me if I stand behind him while the other walks up to me and tells me to get back, then asks to see my ticket and then says to get out of his face. Unless I was standing in a 6 inch hole, there is no way I was in that guard’s face.

    From my point of view, the short guard became annoyed when the fat guard made him aware of my presence. That’s when Biggie said he’d arrest me for standing behind him and Smalls checked my ticket and told me to get out of his face. I really didn’t move, so the little guy decided to go pick on a smoker that happened to light up as he was exiting 7-11. From my point of view, short-stuff was being a fucking bully. Watch the video below and pay attention to how the short guard talks to the guys after they are in cuffs. He’s a cast iron dick.

    I think there is a vicious cycle going on between commuters and security guards: Commuters think most guards are assholes and guards think most commuters are degenerates. They’re both right. Most people in San Diego that ride the trolley instead of driving a car do it because they can’t afford a car or because they’ve had their license suspended; in other words, because they HAVE to. I’m part of that small green minority that’s charging ahead and riding public transportation by choice so I get to bear witness to a lot of trolley guards being assholes to a lot of stinky, stupid degenerates and I’m all for that. However, I was wearing dress pants, a collared button down shirt, a tie, impeccably shined shoes and I was holding a camera when short-stack and extra-large talked to me the way they did.

    I didn’t look like nor was I acting like a degenerate when they were assholes to me. Therein lies the vicious cycle. Or maybe trolley guards really are assholes to everyone. What do you think?

    Below is a video I shot and blogged about in 2009 showing four guards take a guy down for smoking, so San Diego trolley guards have had a pattern of arresting people for petty things for at least a couple years, but they are not sworn peace officers. This makes me question the necessity and the legality of the arrests because as you’ll hear in the videos, they never say they are NOT the police, but, they sure talk like the police.

How To Use America Plaza Trolley Station

January 7, 2012 by · 3 Comments 


The Grand America Plaza Trolley Station

    America Plaza Trolley Station is on the West end of Broadway and downtown San Diego. If you have just landed at the San Diego Airport and intend to take a train, bus or trolley, to your ultimate destination, America Plaza or Santa Fe Depot across the street are the stations to do it. The number 992 city bus is the “airport shuttle” that you will want to familiarize yourself with online. In a nutshell, it runs west on Broadway, turns north on Harbor Drive, passes the cruise ship terminal, loops through the airport and then heads back on the same streets in the opposite direction.

America Plaza Trolley Station

Inside America Plaza

    You have two trolley lines, both going two directions on two different tracks at America Plaza so you must pay attention to which train you board. In the photo above and the first photo of the post, the track in the foreground will hold the blue line trolley going north to Old Town and the orange line trolley going to Gaslamp District. The other track will hold blue lines heading south through South Bay San Diego to the Mexican Border and the orange line heading to east county. If you need to get to a green line trolley, take the blue to Old Town for that connection. Just like with the 992, if you look at and print out available maps and timetables for the trolley online ahead of time and familiarize yourself with where the lines go, you’ll do just fine.

American Plaza Trolley Station

Dad Checks The Map As Son Watches The Trolley

    The trolley is going through a $620 million renewal right now, so by 2015, this will be outdated information. The trolley cars in the photo above and in the video below will things of the past. San Diego will have sleek new trolley cars that will enable the green line to extend all the way to 12th & Imperial Transit Center. The whole project will make trolley travel more pleasant much faster and will make more sense than what we have now. I have a post that details the entire San Diego Trolley Renewal Project which includes a map of what the new route lines will look like. Living downtown is looking more appealing everyday and I think this new trolley system will make the America Plaza area especially desirable. Happy travels!

Trolleys & Travelers At America Plaza

The Zen Of Wearing Sunglasses

June 25, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

woman in red lipstick sunglasses beret

Modern Day Holly Golightly

        I like to wear shades, not just for style and UV protection, also to hide my eyes, so you can’t see what I’m looking at. Usually I want the actual function of sunglasses because it’s a bright world out there but in certain places, like while riding a public transportation bus, I want the tinted cover of perceived anonymity that sun glasses give me. I’m saying this as a bit of advice: If you get on any public transportation without shades in front of your eyes and earbuds IN your ear, you will be inviting all manner of unwanted things. Yes, shades and earbuds are how to tell everyone on the bus, the trolley and at the bus stop that you are off the clock and not open for business.

        I took these photos some months ago when I was planning some sort of “sunglasses on the bus” themed post but that never panned out because I’ve been riding my bike everywhere, mostly on Bayshore Bikeway instead of using public transportation. Summer has definitely arrived in San Diego!

woman in sunglasses

Sunglasses On The Bus

        The thing is I really like to wear shades because I feel they somehow give me an edge. Sunglasses are such an amazingly simple thing but they have the power to turn down the sun AND hide your eyes from your neighbors; that’s a lot of power. I was on a San Diego city bus when I snapped both photos for this post and in both instances, I’m not sure if the women behind the shades were looking at me or not, due to the mighty power of the sun glasses.

        The woman directly above began passing out as soon as she boarded the bus. Her man friend passed out next to her, hugging his guitar case yet still managing to always be tilting forward, precariously close to the edge of falling out of his seat. I’ll admit I was rooting for that because it would have been proof that he was really that out of it and not just entertaining himself with an impromptu Charlie Chaplin routine.

San Diego Trolley Security Cameras

January 20, 2011 by · 11 Comments 

This Is What You Get If You Ride The San Diego Trolley

        Some dude got jumped and robbed at the Park & Market San Diego trolley station last week, as you can see in the video above. SDMTS and the police are shopping this video around trying to get a lead. You know what’s missing from all this? A mug shot, taken from the video of the attack of the attackers. The reason it’s missing is because the “security” cameras record at such a shitty resolution that the faces of the attackers can’t even be seen.

        Of course this has me asking the question, “Why did the public have to pay (via taxes) for security cameras at trolley stations that don’t have record enough detail to solve a crime?” Seriously, what does this video contribute to the prevention of crime? If the answer is “nothing” then why are the cameras there and why the fuck did I have to pay for them? With any luck at all, there is a San Diego version of Bernard Goetz that will take action, with SDMTS cameras recording the action in unusable, shitty quality.

San Diego Trolley Visions And Vocalizations

December 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Alleged Homeless Man On San Diego Trolley

Sleeping (Passed Out) On The San Diego Trolley

        Today was just one of those public transportation days. Today was so off-kilter that it actually had me questioning my reasons, motivation and desire to give up driving a car to be an exclusive public transportation person. My problems started right out of the gate this morning, with the San Diego trolley showing up at my station over 20 minutes late, even though the trolley is supposed to arrive every 15 minutes. The real bitch of the situation is that my home trolley station is only a 16 minute trolley ride from the very first station on the line, which means the trolley I boarded this morning took 36 minutes to move it’s gigantic ass 5 stops down the line. Just to put that in perspective, it takes 45 minutes to cover the same distance on a bicycle. When it finally did arrive, the trolley contained the dude pictured above, drooling all over and hogging four seats to accommodate his worthless ass.

Chula Vista Police At Bayfront Trolley Station

Chula Vista Police At Bayfront Trolley Station

        I finally arrived at my transfer station and while waiting for my connecting bus, which was also 10 minutes late, a police car drove up the curb and parked right up on the wide yellow line of the trolley platform, so I started taking pictures, one of which you see above. The cop and what I think was a paramedic seemed to be waiting for the next trolley to arrive. They were talking and even laughing amongst themselves while they stood there doing whatever they were doing, and I was taking pictures the whole time. When they turned around and saw me photographing them, the laughter turned to the expression you see above, on both of their faces. Oh, law enforcement personnel… You have nothing to fear from my camera. I might even make you famous.

I-8 Crossing Sweetwater Bikeway

I-8 Crossing Sweetwater Bikeway

        What should have been a 45 minute commute took almost two hours, so I was not able to eat lunch and I arrived to work late. Pissed off and hungry is no way to start your workday, but that’s what I was. I dreamt of food and wished for the weekend all day which made it very hard to concentrate on my job. I think the hunger was what broke my camel’s back in regards to thinking about why I ride the trolley and I realized that there is an inherent barrier to making trolley and bus service anything but an abysmal chore, relative to driving: Public commuters can’t complain. Who can we tell that would actually fix the problems of SDMTS? If I were to email this post to SDMTS, some one might read it, but that’s it. My proof can be seen by clicking here. Cheers!

Jeweled Arm Tattoo

November 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

jeweled arm tattoo

Body Jewelry And An Arm Tattoo

        On the San Diego trolley earlier today I saw a fellow passenger happened to have a tattoo accentuated with body jewelry. Of course I’ve seen tattoos and body jewelry before, but not combined together like this. I didn’t even ask him to pose his jeweled tattoo for me, he just had it up there, begging to be photographed.


November 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Pigeons Drinking

Pigeons Drinking

        A goodly amount of the time I spend waiting for buses and trolleys while at a San Diego transit stations is spent watching pigeons. They seem to have evolved in tandem with people because they only eat what we throw away, drop and spill. The puddle of fluid the pigeons above are drinking above had dripped from the tail pipe of a bus a few minutes before.

San Diego Trolley Changes

October 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

San Diego trolley cars change

San Diego Trolley Is About To Change

        The two models of San Diego trolley cars you see above will be a thing of the past by the summer of 2013. San Diego will have taken delivery and implemented use of 57 brand new Siemens S70 light rail vehicles. They are the same model as the green line LRV’s we have now, but customized to be shorter, giving them a length that allows them to travel to downtown station without blocking intersections.

San Diego Trolley Renewal Closures For 2010

October 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

la mesa blvd trolley station

15 Seconds Near La Mesa Blvd Trolley Station

        We have our first update for trolley closures that will accommodate construction for the trolley renewal project. In a nutshell, blue line southbound service will terminate at Palm Ave. on the weekends between now and the end of 2010. Shuttles will run in lieu of the trolleys between Palm Ave. and the border. There will also be an express shuttle running directly from San Ysidro to Palomar station. During the holiday weekends of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years there will be no construction so the blue line trolley will be running regular weekend service all the way to the border. This seems very straightforward to me: From now until the end of the year, there will be trolley service disruptions on non-holiday weekends between the Palm Avenue station and the San Ysidro/International Border station.

San Diego blue line trolley service disruptions for 2010

La Mesa Prepares To Be Improved

October 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Cutting Down Trees At La Mesa Blvd Trolley Station

Cutting Down Trees At La Mesa Blvd Trolley Station

        There is a lot of construction going on in La Mesa, CA right now, with roads being torn up, buildings being torn down and even mature eucalyptus trees falling victim to the next phase of La Mesa’s history When I first heard the chainsaw and then saw what was being cut, I questioned why these trees couldn’t be spared and built around for the La Mesa Downtown Village Streetscape Improvement Project, but ultimately thought better of it because I began to wonder about La Mesa’s past and what was going on the day the tree above was planted. I came to think about some long ago time when natural vegetation at this very spot was cleared to make way for the planting of the eucalyptus tree that I now witnessed being cut down and the road behind it. Was there some one back then standing in the same spot I was standing when I took these photos, momentarily lamenting the same thing as me until realizing that something better was probably on the way?

La Mesa Blvd Trolley Station

Preparing For Progress

        I see the La Mesa Downtown Village Streetscape Improvement Project as something better than we have now and I’m pretty sure the trees above are being cut down in preparation of the January 2011 construction start date. I’m especially excited for all the improvements that will make downtown La Mesa even more pedestrian friendly than it is now as well as all the new shade trees that will be planted. It’s progress for a purpose, not just for the sake of it, so I’m supporting it.

San Diego Trolley Renewal Project

October 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

San Diego Trolley at 12th & Imperial Station

        When I look at the plans for San Diego’s $620 million Trolley Renewal Project, I like what I see. When the project is completed in 2013, the green line will run from Santee, through Old Town, absorb the northern half of the blue line’s route and take over the western part of the orange line’s route, passing through Santa Fe Depot, Seaport Village, Gaslamp District, The Convention Center and terminating at 12th & Imperial. That is awesome! The blue line will still run from the Mexican border through downtown, but will terminate at Santa Fe Depot. The orange line looses one stop at its northern end and a few stations at the southern end so it will run from Arnele Ave. in El Cajon and will terminate at Santa Fe Depot. The map below shows the what the trolley routes will look when the project is completed and lists all the improvements scheduled to be made.

San Diego Trolley's Future Map

Future San Diego Trolley Map

        This is all great news because we’ll be able to get on any trolley in San Diego and be able to get to downtown, 12th & Imperial Transit Center and PETCO Park as well as Santa Fe Depot, which is the station that hosts Amtrak, Coaster and the number 992 airport shuttle bus.  That will make the area an even bigger hub of traveler and tourist activity, and probably a desirable place to live if you are strictly a public commuter.  I think SDMTS has done a great job thinking this out, and knowing that in 2½ short years downtown San Diego will have TWO stations that connect to ALL THREE San Diego trolley lines has me feeling good about the future of public transportation here.

        As if the new, smarter routes for the trolley were not enough, the trolleys themselves will be brand new, ultra modern, low floor Siemens S70 light rail vehicles (LRVs).  They’ll look like the green line trolleys we have now except they will be 11 feet shorter, which will allow them to maneuver through the confines of downtown.  Low floor trolleys enable everyone, including people with bicycles, strollers and wheelchairs to board faster and easier.  The low floor requires stations with raised platforms, so all the blue and orange line stations will be getting renovated to accommodate the new trolleys and improve the amenities.  Other things being replaced that are less visible to the commuters are the rails, ties, overhead wires and flashing lights replaced with LEDs on crossing mechanisms.  I think San Diego’s trolley system will be looking pretty slick by the middle of summer in 2013.

San Diego Trolley Renewal Project Schedule

San Diego Trolley Renewal Project Schedule

        In the spirit of making San Diego’s trolley and public transportation better, I have compiled a wish list that I am presenting to the world in the hopes that SDMTS will see it and agree with me on some or all of the ideas and concepts and eventually incorporate them into the system.  Even though this is a TROLLEY renewal program, I’ve included a few things I think would improve the bus, since the bus and the trolley are intimately connected and should ultimately work seamlessly together. I took the liberty of numbering them, which makes each one seem like more of a goal to strive for rather than a grocery list of wants.

        1. A recurring theme for getting information out to riders about closures, delays and everything else before, during and especially after the Trolley Renewal Project should be that information should be instant and available through multiple channels. A phone number to call a real person, a CONSTANTLY updated webpage, tweets from SDMTS, loudspeaker announcements at the stations, and LED signs that display current UP TO THE MINUTE INFORMATION would be immensely helpful. Also, hardcore access to current conditions in San Diego’s public transportation world should continue after the renewal project is over. It should become the norm and an example for other cities model.

        2. We should be able to know what is going on AT every trolley station FROM every trolley station in a bright, visual way with options of audio for the visually impaired. All the world’s airports have boards that show what’s going on at every gate in every terminal, so the trolley should do the same. I might be at a blue Line trolley station in South Bay now but if I’m meeting friends or going to work in Mission Valley, I need to know about delays in downtown or Old Town that might cause me to miss my green line transfer.

        3. We should have a single phone number to call that will handle the questions or concerns that 99% of the people have 99% of the time. Things like, schedule info, delays, closures, broken TVM’s (ticket vending machines) or other damaged property, broken compass card readers and security concerns. Being able to talk to a real person 7 days a week is important, even if it’s not 24 hours a day, it should at least be until the final trolley of the night. I would think that SDMTS customer service reps would have some valuable input for this.

        4. Being able to receive up to $15 change when paying my fare with cash on the bus or at a TVM would enable us to purchase a single $5 day pass with a $20 bill or purchase a monthly $72 Compass Card with four $20 bills. That would be the single best thing SDMTS could do for commuters and tourists. The twenty dollar bill is the currency of choice for every ATM in the country, so every bus and TVM should be able to make change for it. Our public transportation would be so much more convenient and infinitely less frustrating if it could break a twenty for us. The current $5 TVM change limit and $0 bus change limit really is unacceptable and causes a lot of missed buses and trolleys.

        5. I would like to be able to pay my fare with a credit card when boarding the bus.

        6. Buses should never pull away from a station if a trolley is pulling in. There is nothing worse than being on a trolley that pulls into a station, close enough to your connecting bus that you are able to make eye contact with the driver, and then watch the bus pull away. That frustrates commuters and ruins their day while at the same time it keeps tourists waiting at transfer stations instead of spending money around town.

        7. Just like on the trolley, able bodied and special needs passengers should be able to board and exit the bus at the same time.

        8. Compass Cards are fairly transparent to use on the bus, but INCONVENIENT to use when taking a trip by trolley. I have a very simple and elegant solution: We only tap Compass Cards when boarding a bus or when asked to tap a security guard’s hand-held scanner and THAT’S IT. Other than the trip-tracking data collected, there is no reason to tap our Compass Cards before boarding a trolley or transferring between trolleys. Tapping for the bus and tapping for the security guards would be simple, easy and smart.

12th & Imperial San Diego Trolley Station

What I Saw While On Public Transportation

September 27, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

The View From A San Diego Bus

What Are You Looking At?

        When I leave my house, with downtown San Diego as my destination, I have two public transportation routes I can take. The best and fastest option is to jump on the orange line trolley, which takes about 40 minutes to reach downtown from my neighborhood trolley station. The second, much slower avenue is to take the #7 bus, which plods along University Ave. from La Mesa all the way to Balboa Park where it turns south on Park Ave and continues on into downtown San Diego. This route takes about an hour, and even though it is a much more interesting ride, it is much less desirable because it just takes so long.

The View From A San Diego Bus

May I Help You ?

        So, every photo in this post was captured while riding along on the #7 bus, from La Mesa to downtown San Diego. The photos were taken through the window, inside the bus or in downtown, after exiting the bus. The generally confused look of the people above is probably due to me snapping their photo as the bus was driving by or stopped at a light, leaving them to wonder why the Hell I was taking their photo.

The View From A San Diego Bus

The View From A San Diego Bus

        I am a very big fan of what I refer to as unposed portrait photography. People looking directly at the camera and grinning like a fiend is just about as dull and ordinary as you can get. There are subtle things that happen when someone poses for the camera that can only be photographed in unguarded conditions. I think that when the subject doesn’t know they are being photographed or isn’t posing, the photos turn out much more interesting.

The View From A San Diego Bus

The View From A San Diego Bus

        There are a lot of homeless and unfortunate souls out here in sunny San Diego, and there are a lot of veterans too. San Diego is of course a Navy town; I went to boot camp here myself back in 1992, but back then I only rode the trolley to the Mexican border , so I never noticed the homeless people that try to make their way here.
        Riding public transportation in several major cities in several different countries over the last 20 years, with 5 of those years being right here in San Diego, I have become desensitized to the price of gas, traffic reports, insurance premiums and the other things that go along with owning a car. These are all things I enjoy not thinking about and not spending money on. The problem is that public transportation substitutes a slew of other things into the place of automobile ownership, and uh… Those other things really suck!

The View From A San Diego Bus

Bracelet, Tattoo And Fingernails

        Anyway, this post is meant to showcase the views of the people, places and things you will see while on the bus, and a few things other things you can see by utilizing the bus, or the trolley, not to rant about how time consuming, slow and generally frustrating riding public transportation can be. If you go to San Diego’s public transportation website, you may notice that they only tell you about money you MIGHT save by riding public transportation, and NEVER mention things like the time you will lose, the asshole security guards, or the constant tardiness of EVERY SINGLE trolley and bus in San Diego county.

The View From A San Diego Bus

Dancing At The Trolley

        Whatever. We say that, so why shouldn’t SDMTS? They can pay dancers to work on a weekend day at trolley stations, as pictured above while slashing weekend trolley service by 40%. Awesome. Padres & Charger fans still receive preferential treatment while actual commuters get dick, which is very, very frustrating.

Dancing On The San Diego Trolley

September 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

San Diego Trolley Dancing

Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater

        I was lucky enough to stumble upon a portion of “Trolley Dances 2010” at the American Plaza trolley station in downtown San Diego yesterday. It’s one of those spontaneous type of events where 50 local dancers are stationed at random trolley stations and perform the art of dance, incorporating the terrain and shape of the trolley stations into the performance. This is the 12th year Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater has put this together for the public transportation riders of San Diego.

San Diego Public Transportation

September 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Great Minds Wait For The Bus

Great Minds Wait For The Bus

        I’ve been riding the San Diego trolley since 2006 so I feel I have come of age enough to say two things: First, the trolley, SDMTS, bus and trolley system is a joke with an embedded scam to write tickets to unwary passengers. Second, if you are a tourist, rent a car to spare yourself from the lunacy that is San Diego public transportation.

La Mesa Is Constructed

Heating The Lines

        For those of you that don’t know, the wide stripes at intersections are rolled out like carpet and then heat blasted into the ground. This roadwork was going on near my local bus stop, which is why I included it in this post.

Waiting For The Trolley

July 7, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

SDMTS commuter waits for the bus

At The Bus Stop

        There are some people that, while waiting for a San Diego bus or trolley have a very distinct, unhappy look on their faces. That heavy rainbow frown that is usually reserved for cartoon characters and Disney actors can be seen with regularity on a few public transportation commuters. I really don’t know why because riding the bus is not always torture, in fact it’s usually nice to be able to zone out or listen to music instead of having to drive.

70th St. Station San Diego Trolley

70th Street Trolley Station

        Riding the trolley is especially pleasant. They are just all around nicer and faster than buses, coming as close to the pacific ocean as Seaport Village. There’s just no reason for these frowns, not when we live in San Diego. San Diego is a great place to live and has an award winning public transportation system. Smile travelers! Both of these pics were taken with my D5000 sitting in my lap, with the LCD flipped down, enabling me to use live view to compose the shots. I don’t use the swivel LCD that often, but when I do need it I’m glad I have it.

The Anatomy Of A Ticket Vending Machine

April 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Ticket Vending Machine (TVM) At San Diego Trolley Station

The Inside Of A Ticket Vending Machine

        I’ve always wondered what the inside of San Diego trolley ticket vending machines looked like, and now I know. I took this photo last weekend, on my way to an SDKA go-kart race and even though it is not very interesting, I’m sure a lot of San Diego commuters will appreciate it.

Riding The Trolley In San Diego

April 18, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Gorilla at Wild Animal Park in San Diego, CA

I Don’t Want To Ride The Trolley

        This gorilla, as photographed by me at the Wild Animal Park this weekend has a very distinct look. He has the look of a person that is about to start their commute on San Diego’s public transit system. SDMTS has a new commercial that, for some reason highlights the travel of a hot, young couple that have never been on the trolley or a bus before. People that only ride the trolley to Padres games, Chargers games and special events in downtown San Diego. Events that get extra trolley service added, to ensure that sports or Earth Day fans will feel they get their $5 worth out of a day pass. I think SDMTS should film a commercial showing people that have to use the trolley to get to and from work on a daily basis. The gorilla above, with his scowl should star in that commercial.
        Those of us that have the special event of “going to work” on the trolley or bus get less than nothing. We have experienced a 40% reduction in service, yet fair weather baseball fans get special, added shuttle service, via the trolley to PETCO Park. Chargers game on Sunday? No problem. SDMTS adds special trolley service from downtown to Qualcomm Stadium on a SINGLE trolley on game days. Do you have to commute to work on a non game day? Tough shit, non-sports fan. Going to work on weekdays is less important to SDMTS than going football or baseball games on the weekend.
        Allow me to dust off an old gem by reminding everyone of this video I shot back in September, 2009. In it you will see a public commuter have his head crushed under the knee of a trolley security guard, and then the guards turn on me for filming it. I should have worn a Chargers jersey I guess, and then I would have been given preferential treatment, instead of being treated like an average commuter.

Take The Trolley To Shamrock 2010, San Diego!

March 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The San Diego Trolley Speeds By

The Trolley Operator Waves

        It’s a bright, sunny day as the San Diego trolley rails past me with the driver politely waving to me. This pic was taken just outside the 12th & Imperial transit station, and this trolley headed out to East County, all the way to Gillespie Field.

Orange Line Trolley Passengers

Passengers Framed By The New Trolley Wrap

        Riding the trolley is actually fun, when you’re not commuting because it goes to some neat places. It gets crowded during rush hour and sometimes late at night, heading out of downtown, but if you are a career public commuter, it’s no big deal.
        By the way, you can take the trolley home to East County after partying in The Gaslamp District for Shamrock 2010 as long as you are at the Fifth Ave. station to catch the last trolley at 12:26am. To see the SDMTS breakdown of trolley times to get home in all directions on the trolley from Shamrock 2010, click here.

San Diego Trolley And Constructing The Bridge To Nowhere

March 6, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Grossmont Transit Station

Grossmont Transit Center – Where A Trolley Guard Was Shot In 2009

        This is where I transfer to take the green line to Old Town, and ultimately into downtown San Diego. Today, was a very strange day. I made it halfway to work and all the way around the San Diego trolley line.

Sleeping On The San Diego Trolley

Catching some Z’s On The Green Line

        I had my camera at the ready for most of the day today, which made it remarkably east to snap photos of fellow commuters.

On The San Diego Trolley

Scanning My iPod

        My camera, a Nikon D5000 has an articulated LCD, so I don’t have to bring the camera to my eye to composed photos. This makes for some shots that can be composed lower than you normally would. This pic of a fellow commuter somehow ended up sharp photo despite my accidental .4 second shutter speed. The lower than normal vantage point meant I wouldn’t have to worry about his face being partially blocked by the brim of his hat.

Homeless Digs At 12th and Imperial Trolley Station

Homeless Penthouse At 12th & Imperial

        When you are homeless, it is very hard to eek out a living, and that is why the homeless congregate in busy city centers. The densest area of people that can offer money and assistance to vagrants are in the middle of the city, so that’s where the bums go. Homeless people go where people with homes work (not live) so that’s why the downtown area of any city will have homeless, trying to improve their lot in life.

Homeless People At 12th and Imperial Trolley Station

The Homeless At 12th & Imperial

        Homelessness is a very sad thing. They form their own communities and social structure, but they have nowhere to live. I don’t know what the particular plight of this group of people is, but I hope I never have to experience it myself.

Warehouse In San Diego

A Warehouse Near 12th & Imperial Transit Station

        The textures and colors of this warehouse wall caught my eye. The ultra dark interior seems to add an air of mystery as well.

Pedestrian Bridge To Nowhere Across Harbor Drive San Diego

Build The Stairs

        These men are building stairs that will lead to a bridge that cost San Diego $26 million. I first wrote about this bridge in October of 2009, then again in December 2009. I captured a great sunset photo behind the bridge to nowhere in late January of 2010

Working On The Bridge To Nowhere In San Diego

The Bridge Over The Harbor Drive

        These guys are hard working people, and that is for sure. This image was taken a little over an hour after lunch, so these guys attacked their workload like ants attack everything.

Pedestrian Bridge To Nowhere In San Diego

Pedestrian Bridge Over Harbor Drive

        Summer of 2010 is the projected completion date for this bridge. There have been delays and cost increases, but this bridge to nowhere perseveres. This summer, guests of the Hilton Hotel will have very easy access to PETCO Park.

Compass Cards For The San Diego Trolley

March 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

San Diego Trolley at 12th & Imperial Station

The San Diego Trolley Goes By

        You may recall a post of mine from the end of January that told my tale of woe while trying to reload my Compass Card at a ticket vending machine.
        This time around it went off without a hitch. It makes me very happy to say that! It was very easy and took exactly 45 seconds, so it’s a bit more time than buying a day pass, but WAY less time then buying a monthly pass at Vons.

                With all actions done by pressing buttons and tapping your card, you start by pressing any button to wake up the TVM, select the pass you want to add to your Compass Card, tap your Compass Card on the validator, pay $72 via cash or credit, tap your Compass Card again, take your receipt and go.

                Very important notes: For those that pay with cash, the TVM’s give a maximum of $5 change, dished out as Sacagawea or Presidential dollar coins. Also, paying with coins to buy a $5 day pass or $2 one way ticket is fine, but won’t work for a monthly pass because there is a 20 coin deposit limit, so that means you can’t pay with coins, Einstein. You’ll just have to find somewhere else to spend your $72 in change.

Airplane Vapor Trail Above San Diego

San Diego Reader Story: We Don’t Want You Taking Pictures

February 25, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

San Diego Trolley Guards

        San Diego Reader has just published a story that was started by my video, which can be viewed above. Please click this link to read the SD Reader story. The title of the story is, “We Don’t Want You Talking Pictures.” and it is written by Kathryn Snyder. It reports about my video and how the trolley guards tried to stop me from filming or taking pictures. The article goes on to say that the incident report for the evening is not available for one of two reasons: “…based on the California Public Records Act, which exempts documents from disclosure that are either: (1) records pertaining to current litigation to which the public agency is a party; or (2) records of complaints to, or investigations conducted by the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice, and any state, or local police agency.”

        These are links to posts and videos that lead up to the SD Reader story:

My original blog post can be read by clicking here.
Story featured on Carlos Miller’s “Photography Is Not A Crime” website can be read here.
The San Diego Reader Story can be read by clicking here or by clicking the photo below.
For the follow-up story on “Photography Is Not A Crime” website click here.
To visit the Illegal Photography page referenced in the San Diego Reader story, click the following link:

San Diego Reader Story: We Don't Want You Taking Pictures

SDMTS SANDAG Whatever San Diego Trolley Bus Started It

February 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Chatting on SDMTS Bus

You Are Preaching To A Reflection

        I’m not taking big enough risks when I break out my camera, so my photography is not risky at all, and I can’t explain why. I suspect that I am using my secretive and unseen method of photography as an excuse to not branch out and explore other areas of photography, but even that excuse, ultimately seems like an excuse as well. The man in the photo above was either trying to show the person seated behind him something to do with God, or something to lead her into his bedroom. I’m not sure which route she chose.

Passenger On San Diego Bus (SDMTS)

In Or Out Of Focus – San Diego Bus Rides Are Eclectic.

        I don’t know what “eclectic” means, and as I refuse to Google it right now, I’m going to define it as “weird”. If you pass through 12th & Imperial trolley station during the day, trolley guards will hassle you for not tapping your Compass Card for the umpteenth time during your commute. At night, degenerates will hassle you to buy pistols, drugs, bus/trolley passes, ipods, jewelry and cigarettes. Take your pick. For me, knowing I can score a any of those things on my way home from work at 12th & Imperial makes my daily commute a little easier. On the OTHER hand, knowing that Compass Cards are a retarded rouse for trolley security guards to line the pockets of San Diego’s politicians with MORE of my money AFTER I buy a monthly pass for $72 really grinds my gears. I didn’t get that line from Family Guy. I invented it right now.

Cat Drinking From The Faucet

Reduced To A Cat Drinking From The Faucet

        After my gutless crusades on the bus this night, I ended up watching fleas drown and an ordinary house-cat drinking from a faucet. By next weekend life will be good.

Compass Cards Unloaded

February 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

San Diego Trolley

Same Pictures – Same Story

        One of the self imposed “things” I have done since May 2009 on this blog has been to provide new, fresh photos for each post I write. This post is a clip show with photos I have already used because the subject matter is the same… San Diego and the new Compass Cards it has issued for trolley and bus passengers are a straight up scam to generate revenue for the city. Tonight, on my way home from work on the blue line trolley, I watched two trolley guards make a disabled person get off the trolley to issue him a citation. The reason? He did not have an ID that proved he was disabled, he only had a valid disabled rate Compass Card. Now, I’m not going to get into what physical/mental liabilities this man had, but anyone with eyes could see from a mile away that this guy was disabled. Anyone with ears could HEAR that he was disabled when he tried to explain to the trolley guards that he had purchased a monthly, disabled rate Compass Card. The trolley guards still wanted him to exit the trolley so they could issue him a citation, even though he said that the delay would make him late for dinner with his mother.

Compass Card Validator

This Trolley Guard Compass Card Validator Does Not Feel Emotion

        Before the trolley guards made this disabled man get off the train, the female guard, that seemed to be the senior of the two guards present told the disabled man that the citation would be “on hold” for three days. All the disabled man had to do was procure something that proved he was disabled, and the citation would be nullified. So, a disabled person that, due to his liabilities rides public transportation had to to take public transportation to where ever in the Hell disabled persons have to go to prove to SDMTS that they are indeed disabled withing 72 hours, or the citation would go into effect. Today is Thursday, February 11, 2010. That means that SDMTS trolley guards told a disabled person, right in front of me that he had Friday, Saturday and Sunday to acquire documents to prove his disability or he would have to pay the citation fine come Monday. A cripple now has to take the San Diego trolley, OVER THE WEEKEND, with a prepaid Compass Card to prove he is disabled.

Compass Cards Reloaded

January 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

San Diego Trolley

Compass Cards Are Not Clear Yet

        I’m trying to like my month old Compass Card. I really am. In theory, there are a handful of convenient ways to purchase and reload a Compass Card, so I chose to reload mine at a ticket vending machine at my local trolley station. I walked away empty handed because the only monthly pass reload option I was given was for a $100 pass. My usual $72 pass was not available as an option to purchase. This had me going to plan B which was to reload it at Vons which was done in a few minutes. So even though I’m good for February 2010 on all San Diego Trolleys now… What the Hell?

San Diego Trolley

Compass Cards Do Not Yet Have My Support

        I had these plans for making a video showing how easy it is to reload your Compass Card with cash at a ticket vending machine, but there was no $72 pass option available. There was a technician working on the machine next to me, so I’m all feeling like a character from the movie Amelie’ but all I really wanted was to buy a monthly pass. I was so put out that I couldn’t even snap a photo of the offending machine, or the technician… I just went to Vons.

Compass Cards And The San Diego Trolley

January 23, 2010 by · 7 Comments 

Compass Card Validator

Compass Card Revenue Scam Validator

        The new Compass Card that San Diego’s SANDAG/MTS has rolled out is nothing more than a way to generate revenue, via citations for the city, and I’ll explain to you why. Prior to these reusable, reloadable plastic cards, monthly pass purchasers were issued beautiful, colorful, local artist produced paper passes. We could buy them starting on the 20th of the previous month and once purchased merely needed to be kept on your person to make us good to go. For the next 30 days, we merely had to show it to bus drivers when boarding buses and trolley guards while riding the trolley. That was it… Simple & seamless. One monthly purchase meant that we were golden for a month, as long as we kept our pass in our purse, bag, wallet or lanyard.

        These new Compass Cards have taken away simplicity and one time remembrance and substituted an avenue for monthly pass holders to be issued citations on a daily basis. My explanation will start with the photo below.

Compass Card Regulations

6 New Ways For San Diego Trolley Guards To Issue Citations

        What you see above are the new rules for those of us that fork out $72 for a monthly transit pass in San Diego, handed to me by a trolley security guard. Typos aside, let me just type this all out so that we can be clear; If you do not tap your $72 Compass Card when you get off a trolley to board a bus, get off a bus to board a trolley, board a trolley at any station, get off of a trolley and board another trolley, get off The Coaster and board a trolley, get off a trolley and board The Coaster, get off a bus and board The Coaster or board a bus, you will be issued a citation. On the OTHER hand, if you buy a $5 daily paper pass, you can do/board any of the above WITHOUT tapping anything and without being issued a citation. This is wrong on so many levels that it almost makes me want to go out and buy a car.

        There are a couple news stories out already that discuss just how flawed Compass Cards are. Way back in August off 2009, Sign On San Diego reported just how buggy the software that controls/monitors Compass Cards is. On January 10, 2010, San Diego’s 10News reported that visually impaired (blind) trolley riders are having trouble with Compass Cards because the the Compass Card validators are not in uniform locations. Sign On San Diego then reported again on January 17th, 2010 that regardless of the buggy software being fixed, San Diego trolley riders were still questioning the need to tap their prepaid $72 cards at EVERY SINGLE leg of their commute. Click on any of the underlined text above to read the stories.

San Diego Monthly Transit Pass

Public Transportation In San Diego Used To Be Art

        There is just one final thing I would like to talk about regarding San Diego’s new Compass Card system, and that is how they are cloaking an invasion of every Compass Card holder’s privacy by claiming the new Compass Cards will, “…streamline and expedite fare collection.” What users of the Compass Card may not know is that every time you tap your card, your riding activity is logged & stored on a Compass Card server. What that means is that if you register your Compass Card with SANDAG/MTS, not only will your riding activity be logged, but the name, address and credit card info will also be attached to your card. The Compass Card Website states that a benefit of owning a Compass Card is that it is secure against loss or theft, but only if you register your card with your name and other personal information.

        So take your pick people… Pay $72 and risk a citation at every leg of your commute for the following 30 days on the San Diego Trolley, or $5 for a day pass the with absolute guarantee that you will not receive a citation until midnight that night. Compass Cards are a scam and should be discontinued or at least only provided as as OPTION for the old paper monthly pass.

San Diego Trolley Station

December 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

12th & Imperial San Diego Trolley Station

San Diego Trolley Station – 12th & Imperial

        My short term goal is to get a shot of trolleys going in both directions, blurred by a long shutter. The scene above is a two second exposure, so I think it is doable, if I just keep my eyes open.

San Diego Trolley Police Were Wrong

September 21, 2009 by · 5 Comments 

Trolley Police Have No Right To Prohibit Photography

        The proof is in the pudding. The video above was broadcast on Friday, September 18th, 2009 on San Diego’s local NBC News affiliate 7/39 at 11pm. What more can I say other than this is a very distinct victory for photographers’ rights. We are allowed to shoot video or take pictures at trolley stations, and San Diego Trolley police have NO RIGHT to ask or make a photographer stop.

        The entire statement, made by Ken Moller of Heritage Security Services is as follows:

“We have no right to tell people they can’t shoot (video) down there. My officers were wrong in telling him that. And I put the word out as soon as I saw the video. It’s a public place and people can certainly shoot video down there if they want to.”

        So there you have it. Here is what I have learned from this experience. If an authority figure challenges you while taking photos or shooting video, be polite. Ask them if you are violating any law, and KEEP ROLLING during the transaction. As a photographer, I hate to say it, but this would not have made the evening news if I wasn’t shooting video, so make sure to switch to video mode as soon as you see an authority figure approaching you.

        Now we know why video mode is important to us photographers… Not to add a bullet to your wedding photography resume, but rather to protect yourself and to show in HD quality just how your rights are being violated.

        Below you will find the video that started it all, and above will you find the video that decided it all.

San Diego Trolley Police Prohibit Photography

September 7, 2009 by · 42 Comments 

          It would seem that San Diego Trolley Police need a few lessons in local law. The man on the ground, was smoking in the 12th & Imperial Transit Center in San Diego, CA. This happened on September 5th, 2009 at 8:20pm. Assuming that what you see the San Diego Trolley Transit Police doing is legal and assuming the transit police are keeping other public commuters safe, there should be no issue with photography taking place. If a protector of the public, whose salary is drawn from the taxes of the public is also prohibiting the public from LEGAL activities, then San Diego trolley police are breaking the law. Heritage Security has a 5 year, $25 million with San Diego which was signed in January, 2006. The hierarchy seems to be: Unarmed trolley officer, armed trolley officer, armed supervisor, armed lieutenant and armed captain. If I read the contract correctly, unarmed San Diego trolley police officers receive a 2.5% annual pay increase, while armed trolley police officers receive a 3.5% annual pay increase. There are also small pay increases every 6 months, assuming performance is satisfactory. As San Diego trolley police have constant interaction with the public, why do they prohibit photography of themselves if they are performing their job in a satisfactory manner? The contract makes no mention of a photography ban nor does it state what qualifies satisfactory performance versus unsatisfactory performance.

Some highlights from the video above are:

1) For the first 40 seconds or so, the man on the ground makes numerous requests for the officer closest to me to get his knee off of his head, and specifically, his scar which was obtained during a recent surgery to remove cancer.
2) At the 15 second mark, a female officer crosses the Trolley tracks and says, “Get away with that camera!” I can be heard to ask, “How far?” The San Diego Trolley Police Officer says, “You’re not allowed to take pictures.”
3) At the two minute mark, right after a bus passes between me and the officers and their handcuffed smoker, the same female officer from before (now on the left side of the screen) looks at me, walks to her colleagues as says something. A second later three officers turn around and look right at me. The female officer points at me, which causes a one of her own to approach me for the ensuing challenge.

        UPDATE! Read my follow-up post here. My video is featured on NBC 7/39 San Diego News. Watch my interview and read a statement made by Heritage Security regarding the situation. Suffice to say that photography at San Diego Trolley Stations is in fact 100% LEGAL!

Moving Trolley

Trolley Stations Are Public Property

          Photography is not illegal. You’ll hear me say that a half dozen times or so in the video, as well as asking if I am in violation of any law. Two of the San Diego Trolley Cops told me I was not allowed to take pictures. Interesting. We public commuters can look at them, show them our tickets, obey orders given by them, be tackled to the ground by them and placed, in handcuffs inside SUV’s with dark tinted windows, BUT WE CAN NOT PHOTOGRAPH THEM DOING ANY OF IT! Or so they say, at least in this video.

          San Diego trolley police officers that don’t want pictures taken of them while they do their job are out of luck. If they are captured on film while tackling some one to the ground, why would photography be prohibited unless they were doing something illegal? I have emailed Heritage Security asking this question but got no reply. I would appeal to visit the contact page of Heritage Security and ask them. On that page you will find and email link with text that says [email protected], but when you hover over the link it says the email is [email protected] I hope their trolley police officer selection process is not as disorganized as their website.

San Diego Trolley Police 12th & Imperial Transit Center

A Transit Station At Night Can Be Scary Enough on It’s Own