From the SDMTS website:
Once you have a Compass Card, it's easy to load a 1-Day Pass on the bus:Look, I enjoy taking the bus and trolley, I was even a featured rider by SDMTS a couple years ago, but I also don't have to use public transportation every day. In fact, with a bike in my new neighborhood and my amazing superhero taxi-cab driving boyfriend, I hardly have to use the bus at all. I acquired a Compass card when I was using the trolley a couple months back, but just a few days later found myself downtown with a different, lighter wallet, and couldn't buy a day pass without buying an additional Compass card. There's also a caveat on the back of the card that any unused balance will be fined after two years of non-use, which might not seem like a big deal, but suppose you end up with a small stockpile of the cards with balances on them, eventually you either use it or lose it.
• Look for Compass Card symbol on or near farebox and tap your Compass Card flat on the symbol
• Wait for the message – Fare Due $5
• Insert exact fare ($1 and $5 dollar bills accepted; no change given if $10 or $20 bill used)
• Wait for the message – PLEASE TAP CARD TO ADD PASS
• Tap card again and wait for the message – 1 DAY Pass added
• Keep Compass Card on the target until you see the expiration date for your Day Pass
Beginning November 1, riders without a Compass Card may purchase a 1-Day Pass on paper, but a $2 fee will be added ($7 total).
Taking the bus used to be easy. You paid a fare, asked for a transfer if you needed it. The $5 day pass is great if you're traveling between neighborhoods, but you're not exactly going to hop on a bus just to go one or two stops, and an adult monthly pass at $72 means you have to do at least 4 roundtrips per week to justify the purchase. Our public transportation in the city needs to be a priority. It is great that the city is now seeing a budget surplus and it would be amazing to see MTS improvements like added routes (after many were cut or merged during the budget crisis) and increased frequency for busy routes (ever taken the 15 outbound on a weekday between 4 and 7?). Pretty sure neither DeMaio nor Filner give much thought to public transportation, but it sure would be nice if they did. Consider yourself warned.
[Update: Check out this article on KPBS about SDMTS teaming with local bands for a new ad campaign]