SPECIAL REPORT: Putting Down Roots : The Times Poll : It Pays to Know Ways of Getting From A to B

Although North County residents know their cars and byways--83% say they drive frequently--they aren't nearly as committed to other modes of transportation. When asked their opinion of the public transportation system, 43% said they were satisfied, 21% are dissatisfied and 31% said they never use it. --The Times Poll

So, here you are at Point A. However, being a consummate Californian, you feel the need to reach Point B.

In most of North County, there is more than one way to get from Point A to Point B. Some are good to know for those times your normal route is blocked, some offer a welcome change of scenery, and some are cheaper or shorter.

In North County, your options include not only the basic planes, trains and automobiles, but buses, shuttles, car pools, bicycles--and, if you really want a change of pace, the weather is usually just right for walking.

Here are some of the ways to get around North County:

KING OF THE ROAD

The private automobile. It's costly, not to mention environmentally unsound, clogging lungs and freeways alike, but we just can't seem to fall out of love with our cars.

Studies of local travel trends by the San Diego Assn. of Governments indicate that county residents own more cars, travel farther to work and make more trips in smaller groups than ever before--with as many as 100,000 trips per square mile being made daily in pockets of North County.

In addition to being air polluters and fuel users, cars are expensive to operate.

The American Automobile Assn. has calculated these figures to give you an idea just how expensive:

The car : A 3-year-old, American-made four-cylinder car bought new for $7,500. Financed, 20% down, 11% interest rate for four years. Driven 15,000 miles per year.

Daily Ownership Costs: Includes loan payment, insurance, tax, license, registration, depreciation, etc. $7.20.

Daily Operating Costs: Includes gas, oil, maintenance, tires. 6.1 cents per mile with an average commute of 41 miles: $2.50.

Daily Total Cost: $9.70

Monthly Total Cost: $204 (based on 21 working days)

SNEAKING AROUND

It's no news, but it's not good news either: Traffic snarls are a way of life along North County's major freeway corridors: Interstate 5, Interstate 15 and California 78.

Instead of cursing the brake lights, light out for the back roads. They meander a bit, but they'll get you there in a much better frame of mind.

When I-5 is Jammed: Go west, motorist. The coastal route, Old Highway 101, is fraught with stop signs through Del Mar, traffic lights in Solana Beach and more of the same through Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside, but it's also blessed with some of the most rewarding visuals this side of the Rockies. Use the leisurely pace to keep abreast of changes in shops, eateries and surf conditions.

A more easterly but circuitous route is found along that part of El Camino Real that snakes through the fringes of Rancho Santa Fe and the eastern boundaries of Del Mar.

A "Thomas Brothers Guide," is advised, as Ranch residents look askance at passers-through and may give a chilly reception to requests for directions. You'll pass assorted manses, millionaires and horse farms before returning to the real world via Encinitas Boulevard, Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Via de La Valle or Del Mar Heights road, as you choose.

The "other" El Camino Real, from Encinitas north to Oceanside, has evolved into something of a Miracle Mile punctuated with occasional open space, but it can also serve as an efficient north-south alternative to I-5, especially if you hit the green lights.

If I-15 Daunts You: Remember, before there was I-15, there was Old Highway 395. It' still there among the oaks and hills, shadowing the freeway as it leads past Lawrence Welk's Country Club Village, where it becomes Champagne Boulevard, then into Escondido, where it's known as Centre City Parkway.

For starting points and destinations south of Lake Hodges, the only real alternative is Black Mountain Road. It commences at Rancho Bernardo Road and intersects with Carmel Mountain Road before wending south through residential Rancho Penasquitos and Penasquitos Canyon, leading eventually to Miramar Road.

Hate 78? Savvy drivers use a number of routes, depending on itinerary. Between San Marcos and Encinitas, try Rancho Santa Fe Road to Olivenhain Road. When the flower crops are in bloom, Palomar Airport Road is a treat to the eye and a swift trip between Carlsbad and San Marcos. Between the coast and Escondido/Rancho Bernardo, there is Del Dios Highway, a curvaceous romp along Lake Hodges.

And Oceansiders and Vistans slip back and forth via Oceanside Boulevard-Bobier Drive, which also serves as a low-stress feeder toward Bonsall, Route 76 and Interstate 15.

RIDE SHARING

With more cities implementing ordinances that require even small businesses to reduce the number of employees who drive to work alone, it's a good time to explore ride sharing, which covers a gamut of alternatives, from car- and van-pooling to telecommuting and bicycle/transit combinations.

Commuter Computer is the region's designated ride-sharing agency, established in 1975. Armed and ready with a barrage of information, Computer Commuter can provide bike route maps, Park & Ride lot locations, public transit guides and, for car-pooling purposes, computerized lists of other commuters who have similar travel patterns and work schedules.

Since its inception, Commuter Computer has placed nearly 100,000 people, saving an estimated 700 million vehicle miles traveled and some $175 million in transportation costs.

For this free service to individuals and businesses, call 237-POOL.

AMTRAK AND LIGHT RAIL

Northbound or southbound are your only choices, with stations in Oceanside, Del Mar and San Diego--eight trains each direction daily.

Fares are: Oceanside--Del Mar, $5 one way, $9 round trip; Oceanside--San Diego, $9 one way, $15 round trip; Del Mar--Oceanside, $5 one way, $9 round trip; Del Mar--San Diego, $6 one way, $10 round trip. Discounted fares are available by purchasing packets of 10 one-way rides.

Fares and schedules are subject to change, so call your nearest station for current information.

Oceanside Amtrak is in the Oceanside Transit Center, 235 S. Tremont St., 722-4622. Parking is free for the first 72 hours. The Del Mar Station is at 15th Street and Ocean Avenue, 481-0114. Free parking is very limited. Bus routes (and in San Diego, trolley routes) service all stations.

Additional coastal commuter trains and several new stations are expected to begin operation in 1993.

The stations, strung along a 43-mile line, are planned for Oceanside, Carlsbad Village, Poinsettia Avenue, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Sorrento Valley, Miramar Road, Old Town San Diego and downtown San Diego. An Oceanside-Escondido line is also in the development stage.

For updates on the new trains, a project of North County Transit District and the Metropolitan Transit Development Board, call 967-2828 and ask to be placed on the Commuter Rail Information List.

BUSES

By taking advantage of the County Transit System, CTS, and the North County Transit District, NCTD, North County residents can commute to San Diego, take a jaunt to Ramona, make a mall run to University Towne Centre or run errands just about anywhere south of the Riverside County Line.

CTS Expresses

Designed with the downtown San Diego worker in mind, these buses run every day but weekends or holidays. Each makes four stops in downtown San Diego: B Street at 5th Avenue, 1st Avenue at B Street, State Street at A Street and Ash Street and Harbor Drive (County Administration Center).

* The 800: Oceanside--San Diego Express. Originates at Oceanside Transit Center and stops at Plaza Camino Real, the La Costa Avenue Park & Ride, Encinitas Boulevard, San Rodolfo in Solana Beach and the Carmel Valley Park & Ride. Fares are $2.25 each way from Oceanside and Plaza Camino Real, $2 from La Costa and Encinitas, $1.75 from Solana Beach and Carmel Valley and 50 cents for seniors and the disabled. Monthly passes for unlimited ridership are $65, $60, $55 and $10, respectively. A $10 monthly youth pass is also available. For schedules and more information, call 722-6283.

* The 810: Escondido--San Diego Express . Originates at the Escondido Village Mall and stops at the Escondido Transit Center and Felicita Plaza. Fares are $2.25 each way; seniors and the disabled pay 50 cents. Monthly passes are $65 and $10, respectively. Youth passes are $20. For schedules and more information, call 743-6283.

* The 820: Poway--San Diego Express. Originates at St. Gabriel's Church at Twin Peaks Road and Budwin Lane and stops at Twin Peaks Community roads Park & Ride, Midland and Poway roads, Poway and Carriage roads, Poway and Pomerado roads and Sabre Springs Parkway and Morning Creek Drive North.

Fares are $1.75 each way; seniors and the disabled pay 50 cents. Monthly passes are $55 and $10, respectively. Youth passes are $10. For schedules and more information, call 743-6283.

North County Transit District

With its 130 familiar white buses, NCTD offers an array of routes than can carry you across town or deep into the back country.

The Expresses: NCTD offers two--the north-south 310 Express and the east-west 320 Express.

The 310 runs between the Oceanside Transit Center and University Towne Centre. It leaves Oceanside hourly at 15 minutes past the hour, from 5:15 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. The 320 runs between the Oceanside Transit Center and North County Fair in Escondido on the half-hour, from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Zones: For simplicity, NCTD has broken down its other 27 routes into three zones: North Coastal (Oceanside and Camp Pendleton), Mid-Coastal (Carlsbad to University Towne Centre) and Inland (Vista, San Marcos and Escondido).

You can catch a bus at any blue and white NCTD sign, found every few blocks along city routes. The electronic sign at the top front of each bus tells you the number of the route and its final destination or the direction of the bus.

Route information is posted at most larger bus stops, but the easiest way to determine the most efficient route for your needs is to call NCTD at 743-6283 or 722-6283. Give the operator your present location and the place you wish to go, and he or she will help you find your way. Or ask for a free NCTD bus system map and schedule to be sent to you.

Services: Passengers in some neighborhoods of Fallbrook, Vista and Ramona have access to "FAST," a door-to-door service anywhere within established areas. It can also be used to connect with other NCTD routes. In Fallbrook, call 728-4333; in Vista, 940-9697; in Ramona, 741-1373.

Many buses have bike racks. Call in advance to see if the route you're interested in is so equipped.

Special-event routes are offered for the Southern California Exposition at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, the Del Mar Racetrack and San Diego Padres and Chargers games. Fares vary, so call for information.

Fares: Fare increases are under consideration; if approved, they will go into effect July 1. The current basic fare, however, is 85 cents (exact change required). Seniors over 60 and the disabled pay 40 cents. The blind and children under 5 with a paying adult ride free. Premium Route 305 through Camp Pendleton and Route 307 through San Pasqual and Ramona are $1.25, or 60 cents for seniors and the disabled.

Monthly passes cost from $10 for seniors and the disabled to $20 to $65 for regular regional passes. They can be purchased at the Oceanside Transit Center or the Escondido Transit Center.

Calls: If you have additional questions about bus service, call 743-6283 inland or 722-6283 on the coast.

WINGS

If you're leaving town, just getting to the airport can be half the battle (and the budget). The region's two major facilities, Lindbergh Field in San Diego and John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, are not directly serviced by public transit from North County. (For example, it takes three buses, two different transit lines and three hours to get from Oceanside to Lindbergh Field.) But be forewarned if you drive. On-site airport parking for more than a few hours is expensive.

John Wayne Airport

MacArthur Boulevard and Campus Drive, Santa Ana (714) 755-6602. Take I-5 north to I-405 North. Exit on MacArthur and follow the airport signs.

On-site parking is $1 an hour, $14 per day for the first two days. Rates are subject to change, so call (714) 252-6260 for more parking information. For private, off-site parking lots, which often have lower rates and airport shuttle service, check the Orange County Yellow Pages under "Parking."

Lindbergh Field

Harbor Drive, San Diego (231-7361). Take I-5 south beyond the junction of I-8 and watch for San Diego airport exit signs, following them to the appropriate terminal.

On-site parking is $1 per hour for up to six hours, $8 for six to seven hours and $12 per day. A stay longer than 24 hours is $18 per day. Call 291-2087 for space availability and rate updates.

Off-site parking with airport shuttle service is available from a number of points in the vicinity of Lindbergh Field. Rates range from $5 to $11 daily depending on level of service (self-park or valet) and the nature of the parking (indoor or outdoor). Check the San Diego Yellow Pages under "Parking" for more information.

McClellan-Palomar Airport

2198 Palomar Airport Road, Carlsbad (431-1328).

Long a favorite with the private-jet-and-limousine set that frequents La Costa Resort, this facility is also the county's busiest, with 800 takeoffs and landings of small aircraft each day. Parking is free.

In addition to an array of charters, the airport is now served by American Eagle, a commuter-oriented airline with five flights daily to Los Angeles International Airport. The first of the 40-minute flights departs at 7 a.m.; the last at 8:05 p.m. Fares range from $78 to $258 round trip. Call 1-800-433-7300 for more information.

Airport Shuttles

Another option to the park-and-fly approach is to use one of a proliferation of private airport transportation services. A van picks you up at your door or office, makes several stops for additional passengers en route, and drops you at the airport curb.

Few services, aside from those with private chauffeurs, will go to John Wayne Airport, but most of them operate between North County and Lindbergh Field.

Rates vary according to the number in your party and the distance traveled, but if you're traveling alone, count on paying $25 to $30 each way from Oceanside and Escondido, slightly less from points south. There are often discounts for additional passengers and children.

Reservations are recommended. Look in the Yellow Pages under "Airport Transportation Services" for more information.

If all else fails, a taxi ride from an area such as Encinitas will run about $45.

FOR SENIORS AND THE DISABLED

Lifeline, a lift-equipped transportation service, is available to anyone in North County who has a disability preventing them from using other transportation services, or who is 60 years or older and lives more than half a mile from a fixed bus route.

Lifeline will take riders curb-to-curb anywhere within its service area, which includes Fallbrook, Escondido, San Marcos, Vista, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar. Fares are $2 one way during the peak hours of 7 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. During non-peak hours, fares are $1 each way. Wheelchairs can be accommodated.

Although reservations are accepted up to seven days in advance, same-day service is available if space permits. All riders must register in advance with Lifeline to be eligible.

Call 726-1111 or 436-5632 for more information or to register.

Call-A-Ride is a similar service available to residents of Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos and Poway. Call 748-6624 for more information.

TRANSIT Would you say you are satisfied or dissatisfied with the public transportation system in your area?

43% Satisfied

21% Dissatisfied

31% Don't use

5% Don't know

Would you say you are satisfied or dissatisfied with the freeways and highways in your area?

64% Satisfied

33% Dissatisfied

3% Don't know

Do you drive a car? If so, how often?

83% Frequently

8% Occasionally

2% Rarely

7% Never

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