A Coaster train crosses the lagoon south of Del Mar. Photo courtesy North County Transit District

The North County Transit District Board of Directors approved an increase in the frequency of Coaster rail service beginning in October, it was announced Friday.

The approval, which followed input from the public during a series of public meetings and open houses, will add new weekday and weekend trips to the Coaster schedule.

“Increasing Coaster service gives travelers along the I-5 corridor more transit options to reach destinations between Oceanside and downtown San Diego,” said Tony Kranz, NCTD board chair and Encinitas deputy mayor. “More trips mean more opportunities to take Coaster to work or school, to access health care, to shop, to meet friends and family, to enjoy our beautiful beaches and so much more.”

The Coaster service change includes:

  • Increasing the number of daily weekday trips from 22 to 30
  • Increasing the number of daily summer Friday trips from 26 to 32
  • Increasing the number of daily winter Friday trips from 22 to 32
  • Increasing the number of daily summer Saturday trips from 12 to 20
  • Increasing the number of daily winter Saturday trips from eight to 20
  • Increasing the number of daily Sunday trips from eight to 20
  • Modifying trip times to bridge existing gaps in service
  • Modifying Sorrento Valley Coaster Connection service during weekday peak hours and adding Breeze bus trips into the Poinsettia Station as a pilot program to connect with Coaster during peak hours

The expanded Coaster service is fully funded through TransNet, the county-wide half-cent sales tax for transportation projects administered by the San Diego Association of Governments.

“This increase in service for our transit partners is a great example of what we can do today to make transit a more convenient option,” said SANDAG Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “The goal of SANDAG’s draft 2021 Regional Plan, the blueprint for the future of transportation, is to create a faster, fairer and cleaner transportation system for every person in the region now and in the future.”

In 2004, San Diego County voters approved increasing Coaster service as a part of the passage of the TransNet extension ballot measure, which included specific language calling for more service on the coastal rail line.

Since then, SANDAG has leveraged TransNet to secure additional state and federal dollars for approximately 18 completed projects intended to improve commuter rail capacity along the corridor through double-tracking and other improvements. NCTD also recently received five new locomotives and is in the process of renovating all passenger cars with new seating upholstery, carpet, LED lighting, exterior color scheme and charging amenities at some seats.

An additional four new locomotives and eleven rail passenger cars are expected by June 2023.

–City News Service

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