View Blog Posts About: Started in San Diego

Oldest Light Rail System in the Country Celebrates 30th Birthday


san-diego-light-railThe San Diego Trolley began it’s light rail service 30 years ago on July 26, 1981 going from Downtown San Diego to the Mexican border in San Ysidro. That makes San Diego the oldest light-rail system in the United States and a model for other cities to copy in the years since then.

It’s hard to believe the popularity of electric rail service gave way completely to city buses throughout the country until the San Diego Metropolitan Transit Service (SDMTS) reintroduced rail in 1981. What would America look like today had we continued modernizing the light rail system instead of replacing it with buses?

Here in San Diego electric rail service started in 1890 but began to give way to buses starting in 1937. If you want to learn more about the history of transit in San Diego, try to find a copy of this past Saturday’s Union Tribune, which included an insert of a nice picture timeline on San Diego transit history.

If you can’t find the insert, read this article in the Union Tribune about the history of San Diego transit going back to 1886 and the celebrations being held in the coming days.

Despite having the oldest light-rail system, the SDMTS and local citizens have done a very nice job at keeping it looking new. I interact with out-of-town visitors all the time on my San Diego sightseeing tour and I continually hear comments about the ease of using our San Diego trolley service and ‘how clean it is’. For those who haven’t used it, I encourage them to try it out since it only costs $5 for a day pass to ride the trolleys and buses in San Diego.

Let’s make a toast for 30 more years of great light rail service in San Diego!

San Diego is at the forefront for Consumer Friendly Transit Technology


In San Diego, you will never again have to stand around wondering if the city bus is ever going to show up!

Today, the San Diego Transit System is announcing a leading technology platform partnership with Google. I came across the news in today’s Union Tribune article and just checked it out using Google Maps on my Android phone.

Using Google Maps or the text feature on your phone, you can now find out when the next bus will arrive. Not only that, you will be provided with the times for the following few scheduled stops for your location.

For example, I just pulled up a bus stop in La Jolla on Google Maps. It tells me buses will be arriving in 6 minutes, 20 minutes, and 37 minutes from now. It also provides me a list of scheduled departures and links to information for departure times from nearby bus stops.

Trolley in San DiegoThe article notes this is being used for the bus system so I’m not sure if it will be implemented soon for the Trolley, Coaster, and Amtrak trains. However, I did figure out that by using Google Maps, you can get at least the scheduled departure times for those services on your smartphone. How easy is that?! No more need to look-up transit schedules by navigating a maze of web pages or carrying around a big paper brochure and then trying to figure out which stop you are closest too.

The one thing it took me a little getting used to was zooming in to the appropriate level to see the symbols for the bus. You have to zoom in a bit but you have to make sure you don’t zoom in too far because I found the symbols disappeared if you got too close.

You can read more about how to use this new feature available on Google Maps and via text messages on the San Diego MTS web site.

World’s Toughest Race Starting in Oceanside


snc00341What’s harder than climbing Mount Everest and covers more ground than the Tour de France? It’s the 27th Race Across America starting this week in Oceanside.

If you thought the world’s toughest athletes who have climbed the world’s highest summits or finished multiple Ironman races call it quits after accomplishing those impressive feats, you thought wrong. They go on to compete in the toughest challenge of them all … riding bikes 3,016 miles from Oceanside, CA to Annapolis, MD for a torturing elevation gain of over 100,000 feet in 8 – 12 days.

For a point of comparison, the 2009 Tour de France only covers 2,174 miles in 21 days. As for Mount Everest, it is 29,029 feet high.

Ultimate Ironman Athletes

So, who are these crazy blokes who sleep only a couple hours a day for over a week while pushing their Mount Everest climbing, Ironman racing bodies through the ultimate test?

They include among others:

  • Four time winner Jure Robic, a Special Forces soldier from Slovenia
  • Three time winner Wolfgang Fasching from Austria who personally vouches that completing the Race Across America is harder climbing to the summit of Mount Everest.
  • South African Michele Santilhano, who has climbed to the highest summit on all seven continents.
  • Twelve-time Ironman Florence Debout and her teammate Robyn Benincasa, a San Diego firefighter and two time World Champion with TV Producer Mark Burnett’s Eco-Challenge in Borneo and Gerald Fusil’s Raid Gauloises in Costa Rica.

snc00340As you may have noticed with the last profile, some racers do compete on teams of 2, 4, or 8. It will be interesting to  follow one of the two-person teams led by Christina Domecq. She will be broadcasting live on from her cell phone throughout the race using voice recognition technology developed by a company she cofounded. Along the way, she will be attempting to raise $500,000 to help fellow entrepreneurs with micro loans.

Another interesting team to follow will be the 4-man Team Surfing U.S.A. with professional surfer Laird Hamilton, Rage Against The Machine’s bassist Tim Commerford, and 76-year old health club pioneer Don Wildman.

Watching the Race

The solo woman competitors started on their journey today at noon. You can catch the men’s solo competitors tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon when they kick-off from Oceanside Pier. (The Navy Seals will be parachuting in at 11:30AM.) If you can’t make it for tomorrow’s lunch time start, dust off your bikes and bring them to watch the Teams Start on Saturday at 2PM.

Saturday is the big event day when The Strand next to Oceanside Pier is shut down to vehicles allowing cyclists of all talents to enjoy a leisurely ride along the beach. An Expo starts at 9AM while event-related speeches followed by team introductions start at noon.

So, go to Oceanside Pier to give a loud send-off to these brave adventurers as they head off to compete in the ultimate physical challenge. While you are there, make time to visit some great Oceanside Attractions.

Tour Map, Details & Coverage

Race Across America Map from

Race Across America Map from


Another Old Globe Production Garners National Attention


Some of the most successful Broadway Shows get their start in San Diego. The Old Globe in Balboa Park is one of the San Diego venues that has sent multiple shows to Broadway. Notable original productions include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Full Monty, Damn Yankees, and A Catered Affair.

The  Theatre Review in Today’s Wall Street Journal praises the Old Globe’s most recent production, Six Degrees of Separation.  The famous American playwright John Guare first made this production a crowd favorite on Broadway nearly 20 years ago.

The Old Globe is now bringing the play back to life. It is drawing visitors from around the country. The Journal’s drama critic states, “Broadway is due for a revival of ‘Six Degrees of Separation.’ When it comes, I hope it’s this good.”

Kudos go out to The Old Globe for another wonderful production. Few people outside of New York get to experience Broadway-quality productions on such a consistent basis.

San Diegans, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of what is in our own backyard. Head over to the Tony Award Winning Theatre to see “Six Degrees of Separation”. For more information on The Old Globe, the nationally recognized La Jolla Playhouse and other peforming arts venues in San Diego, visit the San Diego Performing Arts page on my web site of San Diego attractions.

San Diego Company Expands to 6,000 Worldwide Locations


Have you seen The UPS Store shipping outlets popping up in shopping centers just about everywhere these days? Chances are you have visited them or their other brand name outlet, Mail Boxes, Etc. to send holiday packages or ship items you’ve sold on EBay.  This convenient shipper of packages is one of just a few retail companies headquartered right here in San Diego.

The UPS Store started off as Mail Boxes, Etc,  which was created in 1980 as an alternative to the Post Office.  Mail Boxes, Etc. expanded over the years through a franchise network, now rated as the 8th best franchise opportunity in America by Entrepreneur Magazine.

UPS, the venerable shipping company, purchased Mail Boxes, Etc. in 2003 and created The UPS Store brand of shipping outlets.  Unlike many other San Diego business acquisitions where headquarters operations get moved to the acquiring company’s location, The UPS Store headquarters continues to be operated out of Sorrento Mesa. With UPS’s backing, the company just announced they have reached 6,000 worldwide locations, a 25% growth since the acquisition.

UPS does not break out The UPS Store information in their financial statements but according to Hoovers, the San Diego company generated $137 million in 2007 revenues with 321 corporate employees. If you would like the opportunity to work for a large consumer company based in San Diego, visit the Mail Boxes, Etc. Career Page.

To read about other interesting companies established in San Diego, check out the Started in San Diego category of posts on this blog.

San Diego Designed Predator Wins Battle


In previous posts I’ve mentioned how the San Diego designed and built, unmanned drones assisted in wildfire fighting efforts and performed environmental research.  As was noted in those articles, the unmanned drones were originally built for use in the military.

Last week’s episode of 60 Minutes provided the closest look yet at the military uses of the unmanned drone.  More specifically, the feature story notes how the Predator won the Battle for Sadr City and set the stage for the current success of the U.S. Military Surge in Iraq.

If you missed the episode, here’s the video.

60 Minutes has a separate video that provides more background information about the Predator.

To learn more about the Predator and the Global Hawk unmanned drones and their connection to San Diego, visit the previous posts noted at the top of this article.