Coaster (San Diego)
|Locale||San Diego County, California, United States|
|Termini||Oceanside Transit Center
Santa Fe Depot
|Opened||February 27, 1995|
|Owner||North County Transit District|
|Line length||41 mi (66 km)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)Standard gauge|
The Coaster (reporting mark NCTD), is a commuter rail service that operates in the central and northern coastal regions of San Diego County, California, United States. The service is operated by TransitAmerica Services on contract with North County Transit District (NCTD). The service has eight stops and operates primarily during weekday peak periods, with additional weekend and holiday service.
San Diego Northern Railway (SDNR) purchased the tracks used by Coaster from the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in 1994. NCTD created the subsidiary San Diego Northern Railway Corporation in 1994 and dissolved it in 2002. Revenue Coaster service began February 27, 1995. Funding for right-of-way acquisition and construction costs came from TransNet, a 1987 measure that imposed a 0.5% sales tax on San Diego County residents for transportation projects. NCTD originally contracted Amtrak to provide personnel for Coaster trains. On July 1, 2006, TransitAmerica took over the day-to-day operation of the commuter train, based on a five-year, $45 million contract with SDNR. TransitAmerica is a subsidiary of Missouri-based Herzog Transit Services.
The Coaster carried 700,000 passengers during its first year of operation. In 2012, Coaster ridership was approximately 1.6 million people, with an average number of 5,600 weekday boardings. Approximately 40% of weekday commuters detrain at Sorrento Valley. NCTD owns 62 mi (100 km) of mainline track, including the 41.1 mi (66.1 km) on which the Coaster travels.
NCTD maintains two rail yards. One is shared with the San Diego Trolley at 12th and Imperial in Centre City San Diego. It is used to store train-sets during the midday. The other, located north of Oceanside at Stuart Mesa on Camp Pendleton, is shared with Metrolink. This is where the main maintenance facility is located.
Consumption of alcoholic beverages is allowed on board the Coaster during certain hours for riders who are of the legal drinking age.
Station stops 
|Station||Connecting rail services|
|Oceanside Transit Center|
|Old Town San Diego||
Pacific Surfliner(Selected Services)
|Downtown San Diego
(Santa Fe Depot)
The cost of Coaster tickets is based upon the number of zones traveled (see map). Tickets must be purchased before boarding and are checked by roving fare inspectors. Monthly passes are available. All tickets and passes include transfer agreements with NCTD BREEZE buses and monthly passes include transfer with the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) buses and Trolleys. As of January 2012, regular one-way fares are as follows:
- Within one zone: $4.00
- Within two zones: $5.00
- Within three zones: $5.50
With proof of eligibility, senior citizens (ages 60 and over), people with disabilities, and Medicare cardholders receive a 50% discount on the above fares.
Riding the Coaster without a valid ticket may result in a penalty fare of up to $250. Riders cannot purchase tickets on board the train.
More than 20 Coaster trains run on weekdays, with additional service on the weekends. Traveling the entire Coaster route takes about an hour.
Compass Card 
In September 2008, SANDAG introduced a new contactless "Compass Card", made possible by Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc. The "Compass Card" allows passengers from MTS and NCTD to store regional transit passes and cash value on a rewritable RFID card. Customers can purchase passes and add cash value on the Internet or at any ticket vending machine. Prior to boarding a train, customers tap their Compass Cards on the ticket validator located on the train platform. The LED display on the validator then lights up with lights resembling that of a stoplight, and the LCD display shows text regarding the passenger's fare account.
|Bombardier||Bi-Level Coach||see below||see below|
Trailer numbers are 2201–2208 (1994), 2401–2406 (1997), 2501–2504 (2003)
Cabcar numbers are 2301–2308 (1994), 2309–2310 (2003)
Connecting rail and bus transit services 
The Coaster connects with Amtrak at Oceanside, Solana Beach, and San Diego. It also connects with Metrolink at Oceanside. The Coaster connects to the San Diego Trolley and buses at Old Town and Santa Fe Depot in San Diego, including to the Lindbergh Field. It connects with BREEZE buses at all North San Diego County station stops.
Future prospects 
The Coaster remains stable for the foreseeable future. San Diego County voters extended the TransNet sales tax through 2038, which includes some funds for track upgrades. Plans to double track more of the NCTD-owned mainline are also being considered. There are also plans of extending Coaster service to Camp Pendleton and the Convention Center, as well as interest in rebuilding the station at Del Mar to serve the racetrack and fairgrounds.
The Coaster has 2 storage yards. The main storage yard is in Stuart Mesa, just north of the Oceanside station stop. This is where cars are stored for the night and trains are serviced. A small yard beside the San Diego Trolleys' yard is for weekday train staging.
See also 
- "North County Transit District-We Move People". North County Transit District.
- Sisson, Paul (August 2, 2006), "Brawl leads some to question Coaster drinking policy", North County Times, retrieved March 4, 2009
- Fare Reduction – Jan. 20, 2011
- "Marines, NCTD eye Camp Pendleton Coaster stop". The San Diego Union-Tribune. November 11, 2011. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
- St John, Alison (March 14, 2008). "SANDAG Board to Explore Viability of Del Mar Track Train Station". KPBS. Archived from the original on July 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-03.