Coaster (commuter rail)
|Service type||Commuter rail|
|Locale||San Diego County, California, United States|
|First service||February 27, 1995|
|Current operator(s)||TransitAmerica Services|
|Ridership||5,600 (ave. weekday, 2012)|
|Annual ridership||1.6 million (2012)|
|Distance travelled||41 mi (66 km)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
|Track owner(s)||North County Transit District|
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.
NCTD owns 62 mi (100 km) of mainline track, including the 41.1 mi (66.1 km) on which the Coaster travels. Traveling the entire Coaster route takes about an hour.
Consumption of alcoholic beverages is allowed on board the Coaster during certain hours for riders who are of the legal drinking age.
The following are the stations served by the Coaster rail line:
|Station||Connecting rail services|
|Oceanside Transit Center||Metrolink
|Solana Beach||Pacific Surfliner|
|Old Town San Diego||Pacific Surfliner (selected services)
San Diego Trolley (Green Line)
|Santa Fe Depot
(Downtown San Diego)
San Diego Trolley (all lines)
Connecting rail and bus transit services
The Coaster connects with Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner at Oceanside, Solana Beach, and San Diego. It also connects with the Metrolink rail system at Oceanside, providing connecting service to Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The Coaster connects to the San Diego Trolley (Green Line) and MTS buses at the Old Town Transit Center; it also connects to the San Diego Trolley (all lines) and MTS buses in the vicinity of the Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego – including to the MTS Route 992 bus which offers direct service to Lindbergh Field from Downtown San Diego. Finally, the Coaster connects with BREEZE buses at all North San Diego County station stops (i.e. in Zone 1).
Fares & Ticketing
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. On January 20, 2011, the NCTD implemented a fare reduction – the fare reduction led to increased ridership on the Coaster and so was made a permanent fare reduction in September 2011. 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.
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.
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.
|BiLevel Cab Car||1994||2301–2308|
NCTD maintains two rail storage yards for the Coaster. The main storage yard, located north of Oceanside at Stuart Mesa on Camp Pendleton, is 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 at 12th and Imperial in Centre City San Diego is used to store train-sets during the midday and for weekday train staging.
The Coaster remains stable for the foreseeable future. San Diego County voters extended the TransNet sales tax through 2038, which includes funding for rail track upgrades. For example, projects to double-track a greater portion of the NCTD-owned mainline are currently underway, and more are planned. There are also plans to extend Coaster service to Camp Pendleton and the Convention Center, as well as interest in building a new 'special events' platform at Del Mar to seasonally serve the racetrack and fairgrounds.
- "COASTER Fact Sheet". North County Transit District. January 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
- "NCTD: Past, Present and Future" (pdf). North County Transit District. January 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
- "COASTER - NCTD". North County Transit District. 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
- Sisson, Paul (August 2, 2006), "Brawl leads some to question Coaster drinking policy", North County Times, retrieved March 4, 2009
- "COASTER Schedule Effective April 1 - October 7, 2013" (pdf). North County Transit District. 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
- "COASTER Stations". North County Transit District. 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
- "Coaster Fares and Passes". North County Transit District. 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
- "LOSSAN Rail Line - LOSSAN Rail Corridor Improvements". Keep San Diego Moving (TransNet). Retrieved 2013-08-10.
- Prey, Bill; Rekola, Brett (June 2011). "Capacity Expansions of LOSSAN Corridor in San Diego". APTA Rail Conference. San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) & North County Transit District. Retrieved 2013-11-08.
- "Marines, NCTD eye Camp Pendleton Coaster stop". The San Diego Union-Tribune. November 11, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
- St John, Alison (March 14, 2008). "SANDAG Board to Explore Viability of Del Mar Track Train Station". KPBS. Retrieved 2013-11-08.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Coaster (San Diego).|
- Coaster - official NCTD site
- 511sd.com—New site for sdcommute.com
- San Diego Metropolitan Transit System