There was nothing like a day at the Amgen Tour of California, even if it was a cold and rainy.
Street Smarts blog poster “Cycle Fan” and her family headed down from their Scotts Valley home to watch the fourth annual statewide event’s maiden visit to Santa Cruz.
While she and her family enjoyed the event itself, she said the public transportation aspect could have used a bit more planning.
Knowing that traffic was going to be a nightmare, Cycle Fan heeded race organizers’ calls for spectators to use public transportation to get to the festivities downtown.
“We did as suggested, rode Metro bus downtown to watch the Amgen tour,” she said in her post. “Getting into town was great, but leaving was another story! We waited 45-minutes for a bus that was supposedly running on schedule. When we called the Metro to find out what as going on all they would tell us is that the buses were being re-routed. If public transport is going to be strongly suggested, it should be better coordinated.”
The delay, which impacted the Metro system for nearly three hours, was because Metros buses were caught in traffic and road closure-caused detours, officials there said.
“We suffered from that also,” said Mary Ferrick, Metro’s fixed route superintendent.
“My understanding was that many of the buses were delayed based on the basic configuration of the race route,” “It gave us only one access point into and out of the Metro Center. We were in the elbow of the race and no good way to get out.
“It’s very rare that Front Street is closed,” she continued. “Usually, it’s Pacific Avenue. That would have given us easier access. We had to direct (bus drivers) to turn around in the Metro Center.”
Traffic delays added to the frustration. It took 30-minutes to get from Cedar at Water streets to the Metro Center, bus drivers reported.
“We did the best we could,” Ferrick said. “We used the same streets as the everyday traffic.”
Cycle Fan walked to Metro Center at 2:30 p.m. Monday, she told Street Smarts Tuesday.
“We waited for Bus 35 and in the meantime saw three buses to Watsonville, two 69s to Capitola, one to Prospect Heights; and when our bus finally did arrive, so did a 31 and 32,” she said.
But Westside bus routes were also impacted by the detours and traffic, Ferrick said.
“The Westside was really impacted,” she said. “We were hemmed in at Mission and Bay streets.”
Routes 3, 7 and 20 had to do the best they could to get through, or not get through at all, she said.
“When we couldn’t go up to the university there on Westside, we did a shortened route on east side,” Ferrick said.
The bus delays may have been averted, Ferrick said, if Metro was allowed to use the County Building’s lot as a temporary Metro Center. That space was reserved for the racers and their entourage. Another option would have been to close only one direction of Laurel Street, so buses could get through.
“It would have been great if we could have gotten out on Front,” she continued. “Or if the race went down to the Boardwalk and then used Pacific Avenue, it would have allowed us to get out.”
However, despite the travel headache, both Cycle Fan and Ferrick consider the event a worthwhile boon to the local economy.
“In general, it was a very successful event,” Ferrick said. “I think the event was a great economic generator.”
Meanwhile Cycle Fan said she, her husband and four-year-old son “had a fantastic time at the race.
“We regret not going downtown earlier to participate in the Kid's Bike parade,” she said. “There were really fun activities and a great family atmosphere. Loved the racing.”