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Q: Commuting to Pasadena from San Diego ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Commuting to Pasadena from San Diego
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: englishman242-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 03 Jan 2003 16:28 PST
Expires: 02 Feb 2003 16:28 PST
Question ID: 137183
Tell me everything I need to know about living in Ramona, CA (near San
Diego) and commuting to Pasadena.  I know - it will largely be bad
news!  But I
am looking for creative solutions.  I have a good car, will probably
be able to telecommute at least once a week, work reasonably flexible
hours the other days (there will be travel involved also and that I
can base out of San Diego) and I think I'll be overnighting in
Pasadena at least once a week.

Request for Question Clarification by kutsavi-ga on 03 Jan 2003 16:47 PST
Hi Englishman242:

I live close to Ramona, and have also lived and worked in Pasadena,
but have never considered comuting that far.  I was wondering
generally where in Pasadena you will work, and for what company.  I
can understand if you wouldn't want to give the company's name, given
the public nature of the forum, but some  bigger companies have
transportation assistance available, like van and car pools.  Even if
you had to drive an hour to a pick-up point, it would be better than
the two-to-three hour drive you'll face...each way.

However, the question *where* in Pasadena you will work will determine
the route you might take, and so would be very useful.

I personally comuted from the Lancaster/Palmdale area while I worked
in Pasadena until I moved there, but that was about half or less the
distance as from Ramona-Pasadena.

You'll be in good company, I can assure you.  Southern California is
where that comuting stuff *happens*.


Clarification of Question by englishman242-ga on 03 Jan 2003 17:07 PST
The company is essentially on the 210 midway between Arcadia and
Pasadena.  Mapquest thus suggests the 15 then cutting West.  The
company will have no transportation assistance - it's a relatively
young start up.

I should stress that I understand that driving each way in one day is
too much.  My current plan would be drive up late Sunday evening, stay
Sunday, Monday night.  Home Tuesday PM, telecommute Wednesday.  Drive
up Thursday AM, stay O/N, back Friday PM.  I will probably be making
one intra-USA trip/week which could replace either Mon/Tues or
Thur/Fri - get my drift?

Again, just looking for a creative flash of genius to enhance such a
plan - or be told I'm out of my mind.  Oh, and it's a VERY good job

Request for Question Clarification by kutsavi-ga on 03 Jan 2003 21:16 PST
Just to let you know, I'm unable to call a particular contact who also
drives that way a couple of times a week.  I also know that he flies
from Carlsbad to LAX on occasion and catches a commuter van, which he
says is quite the treat after driving the route occasionally, but to
the South Bay...a ways from Pasadena.

Would flying like this be something you might consider?  I'm unable at
the moment to catch United Express on-line to find a round-trip fare
for you...I'm greeted by the friendly "We are working on your will only be a moment..." a-la Douglas Adams/Arthur C.
Clarke.  I'm sure I'll be greeted in a couple of years if I sit tight.
 I think, however that the fare might be prohibitive unless you happen
to make 6 or 7 digits.

If flying is an option though, there might be some private pilots at
Carlsbad that would be ammenable, and I could personally go talk with
them if you'd like.  There's an airport in Burbank and ready transport
from there.

Personally, I couldn't stand the traffic even on your schedule.  I
still have to drive up to LA on a monthly basis, but am one of those
too scared to fly...a minor fault, If I say so myself.

I'm off track. If you are open to the twice-a-week flying option, I
can speak personally with private pilots in Carlsbad.  I've no idea
what they'd charge, but they'd undoubtedly get you closer than
LAX...probably into El Monte, which is about 15 miles from where want
to be.

If this is an option, let me know here.  Short of that, it seems like
there's not many options other than driving that way...ewww...makes me
shiver...twice a week...even on FRIDAY!....ewwww.  Bad, bad, bad. 
Have you driven the route at these times??  It's awful.


Clarification of Question by englishman242-ga on 04 Jan 2003 10:31 PST
Thanks for your excellent response so far.  Yes flying is definitely
something I'd consider.  I earn well into 6 figures.  I would even
look into learning to fly as suggested by Omnivorous (thanks also).
I would love to hear more from private pilots and Amtrak.
Best - 242.

Request for Question Clarification by kutsavi-ga on 04 Jan 2003 18:16 PST
Hey 242, 

Not to leave you hanging:

I've been researching trains, planes and automobiles all day, but have
run up against the weekend in finding contractors who will fly you
from Palomar/Ramona to El Monte.  I was told by folks at United
Express, ($130.00 each way from Carlsbad/Palomar Airport...), that
there are private contractors that will do this who fly from Ramona to
El Monte...probably the closest airport to Pasadena/your work place,
but as I said, the weekend is posing logistics problems in getting
ahold of them.  I'll know more Monday PM but think that they'll be

One more question, could you give me the exit off the 210 you need? 
I've been using Sierra Madre as a reference point for researching
fares, schedules and such, but an exact exit would be great to have.

On the sheer logistics ground, it's looking like the train option
would be the cheapest, but it involves transfering to ground The Bus...and walking about two blocks through a kind
of tough neighborhood in downtown LA to get to the bus stop.  Good
news is that the bus is only about 2 or 3 dollars from LA to where you
need to be.  Bad news is that the Metrolink subway doesn't go through
from LA to Pasadena.

Have you considered the option of another car to be left in the LA
area?  This would enable you to commute from Union Station after
catching the train to your job site, then back to catch the train
without walking through the streets of LA, and give you a bit more
freedom as far as lunch, dates, whatever.  I've found parking *near*
Union Station for $8.50 per day, which gets expensive but is as
opposed to $10.00 per day *next* to the station.  If you take that car
home for the weekend/telecommute days, then that cost is mitigated. 
Were it me in the same circumstances, I'd have a beater for use in the
LA area, and keep my "real" car in a garage in Ramona.  You can always
find friends after your job starts who might let you use their curb to
park your "commuter car."  Just a thought.


Clarification of Question by englishman242-ga on 04 Jan 2003 20:24 PST
Wow,  you're really going above and beyond!  Perhaps I should hire you
to my new company!
Sierra Madre is indeed the exit.
I am certainly open to having an "LA car".
Flying from Ramona would kick ass - but I'm definitely thinking about
a pilot's licence (I had a glider licence as a kid and it's always
been something I've wanted to do).  Flying from Carlsbad would be good
Amtrak certainly sounds interesting; I have heard bad things about
their reliability, ontime % etc. though...
Subject: Re: Commuting to Pasadena from San Diego
Answered By: kutsavi-ga on 06 Jan 2003 10:54 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Ok, 242, here are the options I’ve looked into for you over the
weekend.  I’m sure that in here somewhere is the right option for you,
and of course you can always pick and choose your transportation to
suit your needs at the moment.  One note:  I am still waiting for
specific information to come in on discounted fares from the
helicopter charter company listed below, but I’ve been called away for
the rest of the day, and wanted to get you the rest of this
information as soon as possible.  I will post their discount
information as soon as I receive it.


This is probably the least appealing out of the ways to get from SD
County to Pasadena for obvious reasons, so let’s get it out of the way
first.  You are correct that you will be taking the 15 north. 
However, there is a newly completed freeway that will make this drive
somewhat easier.  It is highway 71 on the maps and goes north through
Chino Hills to near Pomona.

From Ramona you will take 15 north to the 15/215 separation just north
of Temecula.  You will then take the 15 side west through the
community of Lake Elsinore to the 91 Freeway near the town of Corona. 
From the junction of the 15 and the 91, it is about 10 miles to the
junction of the 71.  You will then take the 71 north to the
interchange of the 10 and the 210 near Pomona.  The whole stretch of
Hwy 71 between the 91 to the 10 used to be surface streets, and it
became a nightmare as the years went by.  There is still a stretch of
the 71 that is surface street from just north of the 60 freeway to the
10, but only a couple of miles at most…and I *think* there are only 2
signals along the stretch.  Haven’t driven it since last summer, but I
remember that it was no big deal.

If commuting by car, you’ll probably want ride sharing information. 
The Ride Link site provides a wealth of such:
This is a portal site with lots of pertinent links for ride sharing
and commuting from the regional Car Pool coordinating organization.

Here is a Ride Share Application form.  Not sure if you'll find a
match with anyone going all the way to Pasadena, but something might
come up:

Registered Ride Link users who car pool, bike, walk or take the bus
are guaranteed a ride home:
The guidelines stipulate if the distance from work to home is 20 miles
or less, they will pay for a cab, and if 20 miles or more, will cover
the cost of a rental car.  This is an emergency-use only program, and
the number of times you use it is limited.

Here is a list of current van pools with openings for passengers. 
Right now there are none that go to LA, let alone Pasadena, but this
might be worth keeping an eye on:

The Park and Ride program is where you meet your car pool person, (who
you might have found at the above Ride Link site), at a lot and one of
you leaves your car in the Park & Ride lot.  All of these lots are
located next to freeway on-ramps.  Here is a map of the P&R lots in
North County:

Here is the real time speed map for the San Diego area:
And here is one for the LA area:
And here is one for the entire state that is interactive and allows
you to zoom in to the area you want:

Also from the Ride Link  page:
you can access these links regarding telecommuting, which you said you
will be doing as well.  There might be some good information for you
here, as well:
*International Telework Association and Council
*Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
*Telecommute Connecticut!
*Telework Colorado
*Washington State University Energy Program
*Valley Metro Rideshare
*Positively Broadband Campaign


For the complete Amtrak Pacific Surfliner schedule, go to the
following URL and scroll about 3/4 down the page to "timetable."  You
will be given a choice between a PDF document or HTML.

Unfortunately, LA's MTA system does not go from Union Station to
Pasadena YET.  More details and GREAT news on that below.

Summarized, northbound the earliest train is:

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner
#763, runs Monday-Friday
Departs Oceanside,  7:00AM
Arrives LA, 8:50AM

There are two other trains that leave Oceanside at 7:05, 8:10 and
9:30, each arriving in LA about two hours later

For the return trip you have four options:
#784, runs Monday-Friday
Departs LA, 5:10PM
Arrives Oceanside, 6:58PM

Departs LA, 6:00PM
Arrives Oceanside, 7:51PM

Departs LA, 7:35PM
Arrives Oceanside, 8:23PM

Departs LA, 10:10PM
Arrives Oceanside, 11:56PM

The fare for these trains, minus any frequent traveler discounts,
promotions, etc. is $30.00, round trip, "Unreserved Coach."
Schedules and Fare calculator:

Within the next 6 months, however, things will be looking a lot better
as far as taking the train.    The MTA Blue Line, light rail between
downtown LA and Pasadena was begun in 1994, but budget fiascos
“derailed” the project, (sorry, couldn’t resist).  Work has started on
it again though, and it looks like July 1st of this year, (2003), for
the opening date.  There are stops planned along the 210 at Lake,
Allen and Sierra Madre Villa.  That will make things MUCH easier for
you to commute that distance, with only one simple transfer between
Oceanside and Pasadena.  Almost makes it seem like something you’d
*want* to do!  No word yet on fares from LA to Pasadena.  Good
information on the MTA’s Blue Line is available here, (scroll to
bottom of page):
and here:

By the way, here is information on Amtrak’s Frequent Traveler program:

For now, connecting from Union Station to Pasadena presents it's own
challenges.  First, you would have to walk or take a cab a couple of
blocks to the bus stop on Spring St. between Arcadia and Cesar Chavez

On the above map, the red star is the location of the bus stop, and
Union Station is just northeast at the intersection of N. Alameda and
N. Main St.  (The address for Union Station is 800 N. Alameda, in case
that URL is too long to appear as a hot link on Google Answers.)

Here are two bus options  from LA to Pasadena.  You will of course
want to use the first option as it is faster.  I input a fictional
address of 2316 Colorado Blvd in Pasadena as your destination; that's
the intersection of Colorado Blvd. and Sierra Madre Ave. just south of
the 210:

Estimated Travel Time: 37 Minutes

 Go to Spring St Between Arcadia St & Cesar Chavez Av

Take Metro Bus 401 North (NEW YORK- ALLEN) at 9:34 a.m.
Pay $2.35 plus .25 transfer
Get off at COLORADO BL and LAKE AV at 10:02 a.m.

Go to SE corner of Colorado Bl & Lake Av

Take Foothill Transit 187 East (CLAREMONT) at 10:05 a.m.
Use transfer
Get off at COLORADO BL and SIERRA MADRE BL at 10:11 a.m.

Estimated Travel Time: 44 Minutes

 Go to Spring St Between Arcadia St & Cesar Chavez Av

Take Metro Bus 401 North (NEW YORK- ALLEN) at 9:34 a.m.
Pay $2.35 plus .25 transfer
Get off at COLORADO BL and HILL AV at 10:06 a.m.

Go to SE corner of Colorado Bl & Hill Av

Take Metro Bus 188 East (CTY OF HOPE) at 10:12 a.m.
Use transfer
Get off at COLORADO BL and SIERRA MADRE BL at 10:18 a.m.
The return trip is as follows:

Starting at 2316 E COLORADO BLVD 91107, PASADENA TOTAL COST: $2.60
Estimated Travel Time: 36 Minutes

 Go to NW corner of Del Mar Bl & Sierra Madre Bl

Take Metro Bus 267 West (ALTADENA LK VIA LINCOLN) at 6:18 p.m.
Pay $1.35 plus .25 transfer
Get off at LOS ROBLES and CORDOVA at 6:26 p.m.

Go to NW corner of Cordova & Los Robles

Take Metro Bus 401 West (DOWNTOWN LA) at 6:36 p.m.
Use transfer plus 1.00
Get off at SPRING ST between CESAR CHAVEZ AV and ARCADIA ST at 6:54

Again, option 2 is longer, but this time it is less expensive:

Starting at 2316 E COLORADO BLVD 91107, PASADENA TOTAL COST: $1.90
Estimated Travel Time: 49 Minutes

 Go to NW corner of Colorado Bl & Sierra Madre Bl

Take Foothill Transit 187 West (CLAREMONT TO PASADENA) at 6:05 p.m.
Pay $.90
Get off at COLORADO BL and LOS ROBLES AV at 6:15 p.m.

Go to SW corner of Los Robles Av & Colorado Bl

Take Metro Bus 401 South (DOWNTOWN LA) at 6:36 p.m.
Use transfer plus 1.00
Get off at SPRING ST between CESAR CHAVEZ AV and ARCADIA ST at 6:54

The above information is from 
(Metropolitan Transit Authority):

Alternatively, as discussed in one of the Requests for Clarification,
you could get an inexpensive car and keep it parked in long-term
parking near Union Station and use it to commute between there and
Pasadena.  I like this option especially because walking around in the
Union Station area seems hazardous to me.  There is a Park and Ride
lot at Union Station in a place called the Gateway Center, which means
free parking if you take the bus to Pasadena, but you can’t store the
car there when you are not in the LA area.  There are several long
term parking lots within close proximity to the station, and the going
rate for those is $10.00 per day.  I found one lot that mentioned
$8.50, but it was on an old web page that hadn’t been updated lately.


This is probably the most appealing option strictly from the point of
view of time; as you can see from the above, the earliest you could be
in Pasadena via train right now is 10:30.  Flying mitigates that
problem.  You can catch United Express from Palomar Airport in
Carlsbad to LAX for $130.00 each way.  A little expensive and doesn’t
really get you where you want to be.

By the way, where you want to be if flying is here:

El Monte Airport
4233 Santa Anita Avenue
El Monte, CA 91731
(626) 448-6129
(626) 443-8719
(Scroll to bottom for services and contacts.)

As far as getting to where you need to work, a second car of your own
sounds quite difficult because there is no long term parking available
for this purpose, but there IS an option through Flight Services at El
Monte Airport.  They have a “courtesy car” available which rents for
$40.00 per day, but they said that if you will be needing it on a
continuing basis, they could “cut you a deal.”  The contact name
you’re looking for is Jason at (626) 452-9151.  Jason said that it’s a
96 or 97 Taurus with full leather interior that is quite nice.  Rental
cars are also available at F.A.S.T., (Fleet Aviation Service and
Training) Aviation, (626) 575-3278

In one of the Requests for Clarification above, I mentioned speaking
with private pilots at Palomar airport.  I did that this yesterday,
(Sunday), just checking the waters, and was met with blank stares and
the general feeling that there wouldn’t be much fruit from that
particular line of research, so…

I checked into several airline charters, and found that they are a
little expensive.  Three sample rates follow.  However, the helicopter
charter *really* looks good:

1.  Brower-crews Aircharters
Based in Ramona
(760) 519-5157
Gave Mike your schedule as follows, (this includes a "deadhead leg"
for the plane to get back to Ramona and then back to El Monte again. 
I know that if you fly, you might just go up and back in one day.  If
you do, then the rate will obviously be cheaper.)

Up to El Monte in a 421 aircraft on Sunday evening, back Monday
evening, and again Thursday, come back Friday.  His "Block Time Rate"
was $950.00 plus tax for each round trip you make.

2.  Express Air Charter
Based at Palomar Airport
(760) 931-7920
Kate is THE most helpful and courteous person, and is the contact
person at Express Air.  She gathered all the information together, and
then had Roger Smith, the owner of the company,  call me with the
specifics.  Those are:  in a Kingair C-90 turboprop, (comfortable),
they will give you a discounted rate of $950.00 for the round trip,
which is the same as Brower offered from Ramona.  (Regular fare would
be $1058.)  Express Air has a pair of these Kingairs.  They also have
an Aztec, (slightly less comfortable),  but they offered to fly you up
to El Monte in that one for $750.00 round trip.  If you stay over and
they have to come back to pick you up, the price is simply doubled.  I
was sent two separate estimates in PDF format, which I can post on the
web for you if you’d like to see them.  This seems like a GREAT
company to work with, by the way.

3.  Schubach Aviation
Based at Palomar Airport
(760) 929-0307
Stacy gave me the following quotes:
Palomar to El Monte:  $1021.25 EACH way.  If they fly to Ramona to
pick you up there, the price goes up to $1344.64 EACH way.  This
company seems to cater to executives making longer trips to central
destinations in higher-end jets.

After looking at some of the different charters available, I decided
to look into helicopters.  I think I found a VERY good option for you

Civic Helicopters
Based at Palomar Airport
(760) 438-8424
This was an interesting call in that the person who answered the
phone, Rob,  is an old and dear friend of my wife and I had no idea he
was working at this place.  Serendipity!  He said that "usually" their
rate is $194.00 per hour, with El Monte being about 45 minutes away
from Palomar Airport where they are based.  Ballpark total for the
chopper round trip would be approximately $350.00.  However, Rob said
that he would talk with the owner of the company and describe your
particular needs, and "see what they can do."  I'm waiting for his
call back., but he said that the owner is out for the day.  I’ve
posted this answer because I wanted to at least get you the rest of
this information as soon as possible.  I will post whatever they come
up with as soon as I receive it.

There are also a few flight schools located at Palomar and Ramona
airports.  Here are some sample contacts for those:

Pinnacle Aviation Academy
2016 Palomar Airport Rd.
Carlsbad, CA
(760) 929-1009

Civic Helicopters also offers flight training in choppers:
2192 Palomar Airport Rd.
(866) 438-HELI
(760) 438-8424

Pacific Coast Flyers
2148 APalomar Airport Rd. 
(760) 431-9329

Then of course there's...

Jimmy Carter's Flight School
2450 Montecito Rd.
Ramona, CA 92065-1619
(760) 788-5466

Well, that gives you a pretty good look at the commuting options.  If
I can contact any of these services for more information, I’ll be
happy to, or if you need further information on any other option,
don’t hesitate to ask.  I had a great time researching this for you!


Ride share san diego los angeles
Commuting san diego los angeles
Metrolink los angeles Pasadena
MTA los angeles Pasadena
MTA route fare information
Air charters Palomar airport
Air charters Ramona airport
Ramona airport information
Flight schools Carlsbad
Flight schools Ramona

Also used a lot of phone contacts from the yellow pages, information,

Clarification of Answer by kutsavi-ga on 25 Mar 2003 23:39 PST
Hey Englishman, 

This is the only way I could find to contact you...Damn these
anonymity rules anyway ;-)

I was blown away by some of those winds that occasionally blow...death
in the family...that required my attention.

Anyway, sorry to have let you down re. the body shop.  Did it work
out?  If not, I would still be happy to do the research.  I'd hate to
leave you in the lurch, so to speak.  I feel like I not only let you
down, but also flunked the acid test as far as the whole Google Answer
thing is concerned.  Please let me know how it all turned out, and
extend my highest apologies to the "other" party.  Let them know that
Google Answers really *does* work, but the researchers have lives and
stuff to deal with, too ;-)

englishman242-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $20.00
Impossible to rate Kutsavi highly enough - I wish there were (at
least) 6 stars available.  A detailed yet focussed reply opening a
range of options for me.  Pages of websites, comments and insight
within about 48 hours.  And then he says he "I had a great time
researching this for you"!!  This man is a gem!

Subject: Re: Commuting to Pasadena from San Diego
From: omnivorous-ga on 03 Jan 2003 18:09 PST
Englishman --

Learn to fly.  RMN to BUR.  VFR most of the days; drive the others (or
get an IFR ticket).  Buy something comfortable like a Cherokee 140 for

Best regards,

Subject: Re: Commuting to Pasadena from San Diego
From: taxmama-ga on 04 Jan 2003 00:43 PST
Dear Englishman, 

I was trying to check with Amtrack, but their system
is down. You may want to try it later.

They have a very comfortable train from San Diego (SAN) to,
at least as far as, downtown Los Angeles (Union Station)

They do show, as a station option, Pasadena (PAS).
But, knowing Amtrack that could be either a bus, a train 
or some kind of Metrolink connection. (Although Metrolink
doesn't seem to show a station in Pasadena.)

If I had to make that commute, I'd take the train once
a week. I'd also make some arrangements with someone at
the office to let me rent a room from them for the days
I am there. That way, you could leave some personal items
in a consistent place. 

Good luck. You should do just fine. 

Your TaxMama-ga
Subject: Re: Commuting to Pasadena from San Diego
From: intotravel-ga on 29 Jan 2003 15:31 PST
Dear englishman242-ga, 

Another possibility might be to hire a taxi! 


It's streamlined. You get all the way from your home in Ramona to
office in Pasadena. No messing with the mean streets or the heat.

It's comfortable. You can work, or relax (or eat!), while you're
travelling, and arrive at work prepared and at ease.

It could be flexible, depending on the driver.

Depending on the driver, and on their expenses and priorities (on
whether for example, they have some business in Pasadena), it could be
good value for money.

Best wishes, intotravel-ga.

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