Readers weigh in on Greyhound, satellite phones

Dear Street Smarts, Q: I just remembered, sometime last week you had a column where a woman had written in that there is no longer a Greyhound depot and was asking for other options to get to San Francisco. While it is true that is no longer a Greyhound Depot as such, there are still Greyhound buses going from San Francisco to Los Angeles – and maybe San Diego – that makes a stop in Santa Cruz, same as before. You buy tickets inside the Metro Building and wait there or across the street for the bus. In fact, I am taking it to San Francisco. I plan to take the city bus to the Metro Center and catch the Greyhound from there. Paula Maziar, Live Oak A: Thank you for setting me straight. Q: I read your piece advising your correspondent consider a satellite phone for emergency use on Empire Grade. That's an interesting idea, but I believe it's unlikely to solve the writer's problem. First, it's unlikely that a satellite phone can call 911. Second, sat phones are expensive and have high per-minute charges. Third, many of them require aiming at a satellite. Better solutions: a CB radio – yes, they still exist – or an amateur radio, which requires a license. Compared to a satellite phone, the advantages are clear: much lower equipment cost, no service contract, high power, no aiming and the ability to summon help fast. Herb Jellinek, Aptos A: Thank you. Read on: Q: I'm sure the nerds have all written in to you about this article. Ham radios get pretty good coverage in the mountains. But you need to pass an easy test to be able to use one. Anyone can use a CB radio though. Great for emergencies. Alex K. via email A: Yes, Alex, I have gotten a few emails and I am enjoying them all. Thanks to you and the other folks who write in for enlightening me, thus Street Smarts readers. Q: A woman has called a few times inquiring as to where she can purchase a satellite phone. She also called Verizon etc, but she doesn’t have internet access to search it. She’s going camping alone and she’s worried she’s 'going to fall off of a cliff.' Any chance you could call her with some recommendations? Thank you so much! Bonnie Horgos, Sentinel Community Reporter A: I tried calling but she doesn't have an answering machine. So, I'm hoping she sees this. In keeping with what I've learned from my readers, I suggest she run down to the library and research satellite phones and CB and/or shortwave radios to determine which is best for her needs. While the purchase price ranges from about $500-$1500 and are subject to service charges, they can be rented for as little as $4/day. However, she may be able to run down to Radio Shack or her local electronics or hardware store and buy a shortwave radio for about $300. Don't panic buy. Take your time and discover what works best for your needs and wallet.
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