COASTER train in downtown San Diego
A COASTER train in downtown San Diego. Courtesy NCTD

The North County Transit District will mark the 25th anniversary of COASTER commuter service with free rides, cupcakes and giveaways on Thursday.

Service between Oceanside and downtown San Diego began on Feb. 27, 1995, with 12 scheduled weekday trains. Since then, the commuter line has tallied 33 million rides, and now operates 22 scheduled weekday trains.

“The COASTER is a staple in our community providing reliable connectivity within San Diego County,” said NCTD Board Chair Tony Kranz. “We are so pleased to celebrate this anniversary with the public by offering free rides.”

“If you’re a regular customer or just trying it for the first time, come take a ride on the COASTER and experience the amazing scenery and quality service that NCTD offers every day,” added Kranz, who is also an Encinitas city councilmember.

The anniversary celebration begins at 7 a.m. Thursday with free cupcakes, T-shirts and engineer hats at the Oceanside Transit Center. On Friday, giveaways are scheduled at the Carlsbad and Encinitas stations.

NCTD currently operates a fleet of seven locomotives and is buying nine more to increase the number of scheduled weekday trains from the current 22 to 42 over the next three years.

“NCTD is delighted to celebrate this milestone with San Diego,” said NCTD Executive Director Matthew Tucker. “As we look to the future, NCTD will significantly increase service frequencies on COASTER, implement real time information, and improve first and last mile connections to COASTER stations. The next few years are going to be very exciting.”

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.