Magic Bus

Used to be that psychedelic magic buses drove the Coast Highway.  They’ve long disappeared now.   A few are still around, parked long ago under the tree canopy of the redwood and oak forests.  Aging and decaying.  Now dusty, dirty, and grey, their faded swirls of paint across the nose, sides, and top.

I’ve seen one between Briceland and Thorn Junction on the road out to Shelter Cove.  Another was up in La Honda, like an extinct species, for La Honda used to house many of these buses.

But this bus before me, in the photo above, was all green.  A green, mid-size bus.  A driver, a passenger.  Lots of bikes on back.

It’d be nice to have a bus this size, an electric bus one of several, providing bus service all-along the California coast.

Currently, not every coastal county offers bus service.  Of the 12 counties, through which California State Route 1 runs, only 11 provide bus service.  And of those 11, not every county offers complete, county-to-county bus service that one could take successfully from the stop of one county’s bus line, to the beginning of the next.

The southern, and most populated, counties offer the most complete end-to-end service:  Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara.  One could pretty easily get off the bus at the end of one Pacific Coast Highway county line, and pick up service with the next municipal bus district.  In San Luis Obispo you are on your own.  North of Santa Barbara you could Greyhound, (aka Amtrak Bus Service), or get a San Luis Obispo RTA bus from Pismo to Morro Bay, but now, north of Morro, Cambria, and finally, San Simeon, what are you going to do?

The turns of southern Big Sur highway render the route impossible for a bus to bend into.  Service stops 70 miles north in the “town” of Big Sur.

So you figure, No biggy, and thumb it, or walk, the 70 miles.  Maybe you have a backpack on your back and you camp (in a designated campground), at least a couple of nights, and only walk about 20 miles a day.  Beautiful scenery much more aptly experienced via ped.

Upon arrival at Big Sur you catch an MST bus into Monterey, then transfer to another that will take you the northern length of the Monterey Peninsula to reach Santa Cruz County.

Santa Cruz is easy enough to gain a ride via mass transit, but you ride Highway 1 as a freeway into downtown, thereby missing out completely on any coastal views which lie 2 miles west.  Suck.

Once at Waddell you’re stuck.  A 20 mile distance must be covered to reach Pescadero.  No bus service on weekends.  SAMTRANS only offers weekly service and then, only 2 loops:  7 a.m. and 6:20 p.m.  It’s a little bus, that Pescadero pick-up, much the same size as our green bus above.

In Half Moon Bay you can pick up another SAMTRANS that will take you into San Francisco County, then transfer onto MUNI to the bus station downtown.  There you will transfer to a Golden Gate Transit bus to get into Marin County.  Wait at the bus depot and have patience to deal with the infrequent schedule to get to west Marin.  And then, you won’t make it to Sonoma County.  Bus service ends in Marin.

But, there is a heck of a service in Mendocino.  Get to the southern stop at Stewart’s Point for the South Mendocino Coast Bus route and you just sit back and enjoy the ride.  This last trip lasts the county’s length.

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