The COASTER train in San Diego County will run a new Saturday night roundtrip train beginning March 29! Click here to download the new COASTER schedule, effective Friday, March 28, 2008 (includes Padres train information).
Hearing: 9 a.m., Friday, June 6 SANDAG Board Room 401 B Street, 7th Floor, San Diego
To submit comments in advance of the hearings, please write to: Fare Public Hearing, 401 B Street, Suite 800, San Diego, CA 92101 or call (619) 699-1947.
COASTER 1. Increase the COASTER cash fare by $0.50 per zone for adult passengers in July with an additional increase of $0.50 on January 1, 2009. A 4-zone round trip ticket would be $12.00 on 1/2009.
2. Increase the COASTER monthly pass by $14 in July with an additional increase of $14 ($15 for Zone 1 passes) on January 1, 2009. A 4-Zone pass would be $182.00 by 1/2009.
3. Increase the price of the premium day pass up to $14.00, and extending the validity of the premium day pass to include the COASTER. Allow holders of valid premium day passes to ride the SVCC shuttle without additional charge. My Comment: Although there is $3 hike, the rider would be getting a nice treat in return. The new premium pass would allow riders unlimited rides on the COASTER train, North County BREEZE buses, SPRINTER light rail trains, MTS buses, MTS commuter lines, and San Diego Trolley for an entire day. I will suggest that this pass be offered at COASTER TVM's.
4. Cancel the transfer agreement to allow single ride or round-trip COASTER tickets as valid transfers to any other transit service (such as BREEZE, SPRINTER, MTS buses and Trolley). My comment: Although the premium day pass w/ COASTER is proposed, riders traveling one way and needing to finish their trip via bus would need to pay cash on board the bus. I suggest that an option be added to the COASTER TVM that would permit a one way rider needing to transfer to buy a one way COASTER ticket with a transfer so that the COASTER and bus fare can be paid for in one transaction.
5. Proposing a new fare of $1.00 for the Sorrento Valley Coaster Connection (SVCC) service ($0.50 for passengers with senior/disabled/Medicare identification). My suggestion: See #4 comments regarding purchasing the COASTER and bus fare via one transaction.
4. Introducing a COASTER monthly pass supplement of $40.00 for unlimited rides each month on the SVCC (senior/disabled/Medicare $10.00 and youth $20.00).
MY Comments: I believe this proposal has some poor logic: A one way cash fare on the SVCC shuttle is proposed to be $1.00 which is acceptable. One way fares on local and urban MTS bus routes range from $2.00-$2.50. Here's the part that does not make sense: A COASTER monthly pass permits the passholder unlimited rides on the the local/urban routes that cost 2 to 2 1/2 times as much as the proposed SVCC one way fare. Why would MTS propose adding a $40.00 / month supplement to COASTER monthly passholders to ride the SVCC shuttle, which is a rail feeder shuttle? That's a pretty hard fare hike to use one extra shuttle route. For $24.00 more one could purchase a separate regional monthly pass, good for the rest of the local transit system. I therefore oppose this proposal.
Permitting LIFT passengers holding a valid North County Transit District paratransit reduced fare identification card to ride the SPRINTER/BREEZE without payment of any fare (personal care attendants may ride free when accompanying a passenger with a paratransit reduced fare identification card).
Fix fares for complementary ADA services at double the price of fixed route service as permitted by federal regulation.
1. Increase the price of an adult SPRINTER/BREEZE day pass to $4.50, or offer only the regional day pass at $5.00.
2. Increase the SPRINTER/BREEZE senior/disabled day pass to $2.25.
3. Increase the regular SPRINTER/BREEZE monthly pass to $59.00 and the price of the college monthly pass by $5.00.
4. Set the senior/disabled/Medicare cash fares for all services operated by MTS and NCTD at 50 percent of the applicable cash adult fare.
5. Create a monthly senior/disabled/Medicare premium express pass to be priced at 25 percent of the premium express monthly pass.
Making the following changes with the full implementation of the Compass Card:
- Change the calendar month regional pass to a rolling 30-day pass valid for any 30 consecutive days.
- Add an adult regional pass valid for 14 consecutive days which will replace the existing half-month regional pass.
Amtrak & NCTD Coaster Rail 2 Rail Program has been Cancelled
Effective July 1st, 2008, the Amtrak & NCTD Coaster Rail 2 Rail program will be cancelled. If you are planning a trip down to San Diego via the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner and are planning to stop over at any of the intermediate stations in San Diego County, be advised that your ticket will not be valid on Coaster trains effective July 1st. Coaster fares will also be increased too.
This is a major disappointment considering that the Coaster Rail 2 Rail agreement was a big hit per this archived NC Times article. Coaster Monthly pass holders have basically been slapped with a major service cut; they will have to pay a full fare to ride an Amtrak train. To make matters worse, this reduction was never mentioned in the proposed fare changes during the public hearing period.
ACTION ALERT - Anybody wishing to have this program reinstated between Oceanside TC and Downtown San Diego should have their employers and professionals write support letters to the public officials.
Any idea what is going on with the NCTD? It's like they are trying to sabotage their own agency.
I hope there are no plans to discontinue the Rail 2 Rail program for Metrolink.
NCTD is in a HUGE financial log jam and I'm even thinking about working with the North County Transit Alliance to get them to be more money-wise via support letters from the local businesses.
Although NCTD is cash-strapped, I found that cutting the Coaster Rail 2 Rail program to be a dumb (and dumber!) choice. Here's why: After doing some investigation, I found that Rail 2 Rail costs NCTD $125,000 per year. That is productive transit spending. That basically gives Coaster monthly passholders access to a train about once every 50-90 minutes during the week and weekends, and better frequency during rush hours. Cutting that service has just about put an unacceptable dent into regional transit mobility in the NCTD and San Diego MTS service area.
There are several ways NCTD can pay for this service, not to mention pay for their proposed bus reductions. Extra funds can come from developer fees, street parking tolls (Ah ha, "The High Cost of Free Parking" is haunting us), using smaller equipment for low density bus routes, and increasing the COASTER and SPRINTER fare evasion fine. NCTD also needs to continue its COASTER and SPRINTER volunteer Ambassador program to improve productivity of its station security guards and customer service clerks. That program was very well received by the community.
The Transit Coalition will submit a letter in regards to this action to the NCTD Planning Committee and I'll post it here when that's done.
As far as the Metrolink Rail 2 Rail agreement, I think that the staff and Board at Metrolink are way too smart to make a foolish decision to cut Rail 2 Rail as it would hurt inter-regional mobility. In fact, Metrolink just did a Rail 2 Rail upgrade; we can now buy Amtrak tickets at a Metrolink TVM and not have to deal with long lines at the ticket counter or Amtrak TVM's. I don't think that program will go anywhere soon.
Amtrak & NCTD Coaster Rail 2 Rail Program May be Coming Back...
Back in July, NCTD cancelled the Coaster-Amtrak Rail 2 Rail Program.
Well, the TTC voice and voices of frustrated train riders are being heard: NCTD has plans to reinstate Rail 2 Rail for the Coaster with a change: A Coaster Rail 2 Rail Pass will be about $30-45 more expensive than a Coaster Monthly Pass (TBD at the board and planning meetings).
TITLE: OPTIONS FOR DIRECTLY CHARGING CUSTOMERS FOR USE OF RAIL 2 RAIL PROGRAM
As part of the budgetary actions which NCTD took to balance the FY 09 Operating Budget, the Board authorized elimination of the subsidies for the Rail 2 Rail Program. Under this program, COASTER Monthly Pass holders were able to ride Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains within the limits of their COASTER passes without paying any additional fee. However, NCTD had to reimburse Amtrak $1.50 per COASTER pass rider using Amtrak. In FY 08, these fees totaled $125,000. For FY 09, this subsidy was eliminated and the program ceased on July 1, 2008.
During the budget discussions, the Board asked staff to investigate options for directly charging customers who use the program, so that the program could be reinstituted without requiring a subsidy by NCTD. Past Rail 2 Rail Agreements included language stating that the parties (Amtrak and NCTD) would consider changes to the program when ticket vending machine technology was able to directly charge customers for the program.
The COASTER ticket vending machines now have the capability to be reprogrammed to provide this option. SANDAG has given NCTD a rough estimate of about $21,000 to re-program the machines to provide for a separate Rail 2 Rail Pass. This would appear as a separate option on the TVM screen, which would charge a premium for passes which include this riding privilege. Staff has contacted Amtrak and is awaiting confirmation that they are agreeable to this change in the program.
The key question would be how to price the pass. Staff estimates that the average former user of Rail 2 Rail may have used the program for about 20 one-way rides per month, under the theory that NCTD’s COASTER schedule typically dominates peak hour schedules, but that for certain riders, the Amtrak schedule worked better in one direction for their commutes. Using that theory, the premium for Rail 2 Rail would have to be priced at least $30 per month (20 trips x $1.50) over the cost of the regular COASTER pass. Actual payments to Amtrak would be based on actual usage counts by Amtrak conductors. In addition, the Board would need to consider how to recoup the programming cost for the TVM’s. If programming costs are to be recovered through the premium pass price, an additional charge of $10-$15 is required, depending on the actual number of premium pass buyers. This would bring the total cost of the premium monthly pass to at least $40-$45 per month over the cost of the regular COASTER pass.
STAFF CONTACT: Tom Lichterman Director of Operations E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 760/967-2855
Over the years I've heard reports from folks who have visited Europe (closest I've been is England), and one was that in Germany and/or Switzerland, one could buy a ticket for travel between two stations, and it would be good on trains, trams, buses and even (if there were a convenient lake or river) boats. None of this "Balkanization" where you have to stop and buy a new ticket for a different entity.
NCTD will hold a public hearing session during the 10/16 Board of Directors Meeting to hear comments on proposed schedule adjustments for the Coaster. The Board will vote on the changes following the public comment session. Click here to view the proposed COASTER schedule, to be effective 10/27/2008.
Weekend Fall/Winter Schedule: Spring/Summer late night Friday and Saturday service will be suspended until the next season. When NCTD introduced late night weekend service on April 2008, it was with the intent of keeping the late-night service seasonal and removing it for the winter months.