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Coaster, Amtrak service reduced amid COVID-19 concerns

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Posted at 3:19 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 18:19:24-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The North County Transit District will temporarily reduce service for its Coaster commuter trains starting Monday until further notice amid a drop in ridership tied to the coronavirus outbreak.

Weekday train service will be reduced by about 50%, particularly around the noon hour, when several northbound and southbound trains will be suspended. Likewise, just one evening train in either direction will continue to run, at 5:41 p.m. southbound and 7:13 p.m. northbound.

Breeze bus service will continue as scheduled with the exception of school bus trips, which have been halted while schools are closed.

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Morning commuters will have more options, but not many. Southbound commuters will have to be on the 7:40 a.m. train or wait until 2:42 p.m. Northbound commuters can leave as late as 9:18 a.m.

Weekend Coaster service will be suspended entirely beginning March 28.

In addition to the Coaster trips which will remain active, riders with a valid Coaster Regional day or monthly pass will still be able to ride the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner. Amtrak will also be implementing service reductions.

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NCTD said "significant declines in ridership" due to the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the reductions. Ridership has dropped by 79%, the district said.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the declaration of a national state of emergency that has emphasized the need for social distancing. Accordingly, non-essential businesses and schools have been closed, and employers have been encouraged to allow employees to work from or remain at home," said Matthew Tucker, NCTD executive director.

"NCTD understands the importance of having vital transportation like our buses and trains remain in service during this time of uncertainty for many San Diegans. However, due to declining COASTER ridership during this pandemic, NCTD will implement temporary service reductions."

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According to a Amtrak Pacific Surfliner statement, "based on current ridership levels, we expect to move to a temporarily reduced schedule on Pacific Surfliner trains on Monday, March 23rd. However, this is a dynamic situation, so adjustments could happen sooner if, for example, there are not enough crew members available or if public health conditions change in the area."