Opinion » Commentaries

Avila Beach needs a bus stop

The current RTA route from SLO to Pismo Beach could use a little tweaking



I have seen far more people on Avila Beach even on cloudy days than on Pismo Beach on warm sunny days. During summer weekdays of no trolley to Avila, the beach is usually packed as far as it extends on both sides of the pier, as well as up the lagoon, while Pismo Beach crowds only extend 200 feet or less.

Avila's restaurants, cafes, and shops are packed full of people all week, not just on weekends when there is no trolley service. Bands play up and down Front Street while artists display. After September there is not trolley service during the frequent 90 to 100-degree heat waves of October and November, when people want to be at the beach! Even in December there are 80-degree heat waves, and some have been during the two-week holiday over Christmas!

Most employees in San Luis Obispo County work at minimum- or near-minimum-wage jobs, or are laid off to part time during the tourist offseason, or become unemployed—so they cannot afford to drive. They have no public transportation to popular Avila Beach for the majority of each week from April through September, and no public transportation the rest of the year. Most of the jobs in Avila are low pay or seasonal, making vehicles unaffordable, and there is no way for them to get to work and back from the rest of the county. Many senior citizens and disabled people cannot drive any vehicle and cannot to get to Avila's many attractions, including car shows and concerts.

Why are there more public buses to Pismo, Grover Beach, and Oceano, which are less popular beach towns with less to offer? After I studied more than a year's worth of daily weather reports, I found that Avila is often 5 to 15 degrees warmer than Pismo, Grover, Oceano, or Morro Bay, and often sunny while those beaches are foggy or cloudy. It is common to be in warm sunshine at Avila Beach, watching the fog bank off the coast wrap into Shell Beach, Pismo, and toward Morro Bay. People who want to escape those gloomy beaches to the sunshine of Avila, usually don't have access to public transportation.

Town councils and activists need to petition the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) supervisors and the trolley organizers, write to all of the Five Cities' newspapers, and attempt to get a public bus to a beach that's obviously far more popular than the nearly deserted Grover Beach, Shell Beach, and cold foggy Morro Bay, Los Osos, Pismo, and Oceano beaches It would bring far more people to shop in town and boost the economy and profits.

The bus system would need to be greatly advertised in tourism publications and local media, so people would know about it. I use a bike to ride all the way from my home in San Luis Obispo, and after getting worn out surfing, it's mostly an uphill ride back into exhaustion. I can easily get the bike to the transit center in Pismo on the RTA bus and transfer it to the trolley (when the trolley's running). But the RTA supervisors refuse to stop at the stop sign on Higuera Road, where it intersects with Ontario Road to Avila, open the door, and let me off for a far shorter bike ride. They have to stop there anyway! Plus, there is plenty of space off the road to completely pull off to the side and not block anybody.

On the way to Pismo, why can't they turn off on Ontario Road, which usually has very light traffic, drop me off, and parallel the freeway to back onto Highway 101 at the Avila Road intersection? I estimate that the whole thing would add no more than two minutes to the route. Instead, the RTA bus stops at a useless stop across the freeway from its Pismo transit center, a very short walk from its final destination, where almost nobody gets on or off the bus.

Get rid of that stop and add the Ontario Road stop, close to Avila! Δ

Steve Omar used to edit three newspapers in Hawaii. Now he rides his bike to Avila from San Luis Obispo. Send comments through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com.

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