On the Move – Explore the North County on SamTrans Route 120

By Dan Lieberman, @LiebermanTweets

The 120 runs from the Colma BART Station up to the Top of the Hill in Daly City, and covers quite a few choice destinations in both cities. Bus Operator Rene Tuazon, who has served SamTrans riders for nearly 30 years, enjoys the route, seeing a good crowd representing a wide range of people.  “It makes the day go by fast,” he said with a smile. Whether you’re going to school, doing some shopping or hungry for lunch, the 120 will have something for you.
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I started the route at the scenic Colma BART Station, in the shadow of San Bruno Mountain, newly green from our recent rains. Colma is famously more populated by the dead than the living, home to gunslingers, media magnates and an emperor all having shuffled off this mortal coil, but that doesn’t mean it’s without activities for those of us still above ground (it’s also the only city on the Peninsula with its own musical). After passing our dearly departed Serra Bowl, the route goes south on Junipero Serra, passing the 280 Metro Center and Serra Center, offering a bevy of shopping destinations, although not the last this trip has to offer.

As we crossed over 280, we arrived at Serramonte Center. The northernmost mall in San Mateo County appears to be doing well, as a good deal of construction was underway. Most of the bus riders disembarked upon arrival, and a host of new riders boarded. I sat across from an elderly couple that was greatly enjoying hectoring one another, as they spent the next 20 minutes quietly pointing out each other’s failures to maintain appropriate bus etiquette. I smiled as I half-listened to their version of domestic bliss as I gazed out at the rainbow of Doelger homes.

We stopped at St. Francis Square, and I contemplated how odd it was that I was in Daly City on a day without fog. If it were another day, Four Seasons Hot Pot would have been calling my name. We headed west on Southgate, passing Thomas Edison Elementary and Fernando Rivera Middle School, but were too late in the day for the rush of kids. Skyline Plaza was next, home of my standby 99 Ranch Market, followed by Marjorie Tobias Elementary, whose students sent in some lovely submissions to SamTrans’ Art Takes a Bus Ride competition this year. We then passed Westlake Library, followed shortly by Westlake Shopping Center, which has grown a great deal since I made the ill-advised purchase of a fedora at the Burlington Coat Factory in my teenage years (let’s just say Humphrey Bogart had more going for him than a hat can deliver).

We swung through the Daly City BART Station, just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Century 20, and proceeded up towards Mission, which always makes me think of its many Filipino restaurants with their sizzling sisig and the crunch of crispy pata. Shortly after we reached our terminus at Lincoln Park, I took a moment to enjoy some rare Daly City sunshine. Daly City and Colma are relatively old cities, rich in culture and diverse in character. The 120 provides a wonderful opportunity to dive into these communities and appreciate what they have to offer. Catch it, and see what you might find.

On the Move is a monthly blog feature highlighting places to go and things to see on SamTrans bus routes. If you have a suggestion for a future route, please email Public Affairs Specialist Dan Lieberman at liebermand@samtrans.com

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