OCEANSIDE, Calif. – Amtrak’s train that runs along the San Diego Coast is going on three months of closure from Oceanside to Orange County and is now impacting holiday travel.
The service from Oceanside to San Clemente was stopped on September 30, 2022, due to a storm surge causing unstable tracks. Construction and stabilization work is underway.
A state transportation emergency was declared in October over the issue.
Amtrak is providing bus service in lieu of the train service between Oceanside and Irvine. On Tuesday passengers told FOX 5 that it is adding an extra hour to their travel time, this holiday season.
“Usually with the train, you board and it’s always on time,” said Celia Chamu, a UC Irvine student who is traveling home for winter break using Amtrak. “I feel like there’s no consistency between the bus and the train.”
“It delays time,” said Josh Madison, a traveler in Oceanside.
“We don’t drive so we don’t have another option, we can’t take a car,” said Leslee Soria, a UCSD student who is traveling with Chamu.
“It’s kind of a really big inconvenience,” Chamu said.
Taxi driver Alberto Venegas said his taxi business has been slower this holiday season than in years past. He believes fewer people are opting to take the train because the closure is creating longer travel times, and in turn, he has less business at transit stops.
“Right now it’s kind of slow for the taxi business,” Venegas said. “Holiday travel should be busy.”
Meanwhile, passengers who will be riding Amtrak for New Year’s Eve travel said they are already planning ahead.
“I’m a little frightened,” Madison said. He is traveling to Los Angeles for New Year’s Eve celebrations. “I’ll probably have to go up like a day or two days before because there’s no telling.”
The Orange County Transportation Authority, which is leading the stabilization work, estimates work will be completed in February 2023.
“We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this service disruption is causing to our riders. We’re continuing to look for ways to minimize the impact of these closures as this critical work continues,” Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner page reads on its website.