Is it possible to satisfactorily commute between UC San Diego and Hillcrest using public transit?
July 3, 2007 3:37 PM   Subscribe

San Diego! Can I live in Hillcrest and reliably use public transit and shuttles to commute to UCSD campus every day without feeling despair and missing schedules?

I am moving to San Diego for school. For the first two years, I'll basically be living on campus. For the next two, spending a lot of time in Hillcrest. I just hate driving and would prefer to be able to use transit or UCSD's shuttle to make my commute. I've heard horror stories about the SD traffic. How bad is it? How long does it take? Is it doable, or will it reduce me to impotent rage with frequent gridlocks? For perspective, I drove SF to San Jose for a couple of years and currently, occasionally, drive in New Jersey and New York City.
posted by meehawl to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
SD traffic is not terrible--we hardly ever have anything like gridlock, and rush hour is still pretty restricted to certain times of day. If you were to live in north county and were commuting south on the 15, you might have a different opinion on that, though. Still, our traffic is orders of magnitude easier to deal with than LA's. I used to work in La Jolla and live near Hillcrest, and I hardly hit traffic at all on my commute in either direction.

I don't know about the UCSD shuttle, but trying to do public transit from Hillcrest to the La Jolla campus would be mind-numbing. You'd probably be better off driving, but I'm not familiar with the parking situation at UCSD. If you're going to medical school, the hospital is in Hillcrest anyway.
posted by LionIndex at 3:45 PM on July 3, 2007

It looks like it's about a 12 mile one-way trip from Hillcrest to UCSD on the freeway, and about the same distance on surface streets, mostly straight along Genesee Avenue. Here's the Hillcrest-La Jolla shuttle schedule.

Seriously, I wonder if this commute wouldn't be possibly perfect for a scooter or motorcycle, given San Diego's mostly-heavenly climate and UCSD's relatively cheap motorcycle/scooter parking permit - $66/quarter.
posted by mdonley at 3:57 PM on July 3, 2007

I took it back and forth from campus. It's 30 minutes walking to/from Hillcrest, depending. 30 minutes on the shuttle, also depending. If your classes don't require you to commute during rush hour, and you can afford to have a car, I would drive.
posted by unknowncommand at 4:22 PM on July 3, 2007

I should point out that driving from Hillcrest to campus took 20-30 minutes, if I remember correctly.
posted by unknowncommand at 4:24 PM on July 3, 2007

Best answer: I live in hillcrest and work in La Jolla, near UCSD. Don't take Genessee all the way, it's ridden with stoplights. Traffic to and from isn't so bad. It does get a little slow on the 805N in the morning, but the 5N should be ok.

Also, I ride a scooter to work every day, and the trip can be made in about 20 min on the freeway (with a suitably large scooter/motorcycle), or about 45 min on surface streets (not Genessee)
posted by toomanyplugs at 4:57 PM on July 3, 2007

I used to do it in college and it was great. I had places (library, coffee shops, bookstore, friends' places) on campus where I could kill time if necessary but it almost always was convenient and when it wasn't I could usually find a ride. The shuttle is much nicer than a bus - direct and friendly (well, it used to be anyway - try it first).

I also loved living in Hillcrest - great restaurants and a nice change from La Jolla...
posted by MiffyCLB at 5:27 PM on July 3, 2007

I commuted north on I-5N from Hillcrest right past UCSD every day for over a year and never really had any complaints. The nice part about living in Hillcrest and commuting north is that you're reversing the commute most people face. If you were living in La Jolla and commuting into downtown SD, it would be a different story. And the I-5N commute between La Jolla and Orange County is pretty bad as I recall. I worked in Mira Mesa with folks who lived further north and they would sometimes have 2hr commutes to go 20-30 miles during rush hour.
posted by ga$money at 5:44 PM on July 3, 2007

The nice part about living in Hillcrest and commuting north is that you're reversing the commute most people face. If you were living in La Jolla and commuting into downtown SD, it would be a different story.

Actually, it's always seemed to me that it's really bad north of the two merges (805 and 5 near La Jolla, 15 and 163 in Miramar), since at that point there's four freeways instead of just two. Driving against the big commute to La Jolla, I never really saw anything gnarly coming the other way.
posted by LionIndex at 6:10 PM on July 3, 2007

People say that San Diego has awful traffic, but I don't find it all the bad. The traffic is worse in North County and as you get close to the border. In between, it's really not too bad. Of course, there is the occasional traffic snarl when there's an accident, but it's mostly fine. One of the beauties of San Diego is that the weather is almost never a factor in the traffic.

If you really hate driving then the shuttle would work. It would also save you from hunting for parking at UCSD. Are you able to study on the shuttle? That might make the shuttle the way to commute.

Personally, I'd drive it.
posted by 26.2 at 7:00 PM on July 3, 2007

Best answer: The traffic from Hillcrest to UCSD is not bad. You can drive there in 15 minutes, but finding parking and then walking to most places on campus can take you another half hour sometimes. UCSD is big, and parking is bad.

You can take the shuttle (it takes 20 minutes, runs at 30 minute intervals until the evening) to and from UCSD every day. Lots of people do this; the early shuttles can be packed. You probably won't miss classes because of the shuttle itself, but from missing the shuttle, since you won't have a timely backup plan. Also, if you have to be on campus late at night, you'll have to conform your schedule to the inconvenient irregular late-night shuttle schedule so you can get home.

One can cycle pretty easily from Hillcrest to UCSD; it'll usually take a bit more than an hour (provided you're serious about getting to campus), and you'll probably need a shower, but it can be a nice ride. Search on bikely for a route.
posted by beerbajay at 8:24 PM on July 3, 2007

I'm just gonna toss Google Transit into the discussion.
posted by booth at 9:19 AM on July 4, 2007

Response by poster: These are all great answers, thanks!
posted by meehawl at 11:21 AM on July 4, 2007

Parking on the UCSD campus used to be horrible when I went there (John Muir Class of '98). I parked off-campus and rode the shuttle to my classes.

Traffic in San Diego is much better than in the Bay Area, and infinitely better than that of Los Angeles. As long as you avoid signing up for classes that start at 7-8AM (a bad idea anyway) or end 4-6PM, you will probably never have any problems.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 3:24 PM on July 5, 2007

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