We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the Free Shuttle Service provided by the city of San Diego in association with Comic-Con International and SEAT Planners is the single most useful, most generous utility that has been provided to SDCC attendees, and this year they are bringing it back to the Big Show in July… however, with some rather big alterations which could serve as a fly in the ointment for many.
In summery, the Free Shuttle Service is provided for San Diego Comic-Con Badge Holders to allow those situated at hotels further afield to be closer to the Downtown action, shuttling them in safety and comfort from hotel locations around the city, straight to the San Diego Convention Centre doorstep. The service was given in even bigger boost in 2019 with the closure of Harbor Drive and turning that entire space into a giant Shuttle Service stop, freeing up the concourse thoroughfare directly in front of the Convention Centre for foot traffic.
However, for 2010, this service will no longer be running twenty-four hours, kicking off on Wednesday July 17th (Preview Night) at 3pm, coming to a stop at Midnight on that Wednesday and 1am on Thursday 18th, Friday 19th and Saturday 20th, resuming services at 5am the following mornings, coming to a complete stop at 7pm on Sunday 21st. This means that any late night activity that attendees might have planned will be smartly curtailed, with return journeys to hotels being facilitated by services like Uber and Lyft, who are going to have a field day.
And that’s leaving the area in the dead of night – that doesn’t consider those wanting to get to early forming lines for the next day of convention, with attendees either having to make the decision to join those lines a lot earlier or later than planned, or fork out for transport. And with hotel prices rising across the board this year, attendees will be looking at every penny very closely.
This isn’t the only major change to the Shuttle Service this year: a large number of the Downtown Hotels will no longer be issued with stops in 2010, with SEAT Planners and CCI deeming them ‘within walking distance’. These hotels include:
- Courtyard San Diego Gaslamp / Convention Center
- Embassy Suites San Diego Bay
- Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
- Hilton San Diego Bayfront
- Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
- Horton Grand Hotel
- Hotel Indigo San Diego Gaslamp
- Hotel Solomar
- Manchester Grand Hyatt
- Omni San Diego Hotel
- Pendry San Diego
- Residence Inn Gaslamp Quarter
- San Diego Marriott Gaslamp
- San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina
- Westin Gaslamp Quarter
No explanation for these omissions have been given, although one can assume that shuttle drivers would have made their thoughts on being caught in downtown traffic – exacerbated no doubt, ironically, by the closure of Harbor Drive – very clear, especially when such traffic would have held up services and risen the tensions between attendees using the shuttles and drivers.
While it can be argued that it’s plain common sense for a number of these venues to not be provided with shuttle stops, being in such close proximity to the Convention Centre, a fair amount are far enough away for those using the service for health reasons, or needing the service to help transport bulky exclusives purchases, to be left very much stranded. (There is a number for ADA transport arrangements to be made: (619) 921-4980, calls to be made during shuttle hours.)
Another explanation for the changes may be the congestion of service at the multiple shuttle stops placed on the PETCO Park side of the Harbor Drive Bridge, especially when combined with the footfall brought by the massive off-site held in the PETCO parking lot. Driving to and from there through the Downtown system would not have been easy for shuttle drivers and they may have made their thoughts clear on the matter: removing of that stop clears up a lot of time, space and tension.
Still, for attendees landing hotels at some distance from the hustle and bustle of Downtown and Gaslamp, and unconcerned by the issues of late night plans, the Shuttle Service still remains a huge generosity by CCI and the city; it just comes with some caveats this year…
Thoughts, opinions? Please leave your comments below and also join us for our impromptu TALKIN’ CON: A CUP O’ TEA WITH AN ENGLISHMAN IN SAN DIEGO episode at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm GMT on Wednesday 10th April (www.youtube.com/EnglishmanSDCC).
More info on the Shuttle Service can be found on the Comic-Con International website, here:
[…] And many, if not all, of those rooms come with a number of changes, including a price hike across the board and a number of Downtown hotels losing the Free Shuttle Service, most likely prompted by irate shuttle drivers fighting against stalled downtown traffic, caused by the closure of Harbour Drive for the duration of the convention. (That’s not the only change to the Free Shuttle Service this year, mind you: http://theconventioncollective.com/cci/sdcc-2019-shuttle-information-posted-times-changes-downtown-l…😉 […]