Coaster riders were in for a surprise when North County Transit District recently placed advertisements on the side of certain cars.
Typically, train travelers going between La Jolla and San Juan Capistrano have a crystal clear shot of the waves from car windows.
But now a few cars are covered in a perforated wrap that obstructs the view.
Coaster rider Benjamin Tobias is upset the view is no longer what it once was. He travels on the Coaster for eight trips a week from Carlsbad to Sorrento Valley, and looks forward to his scenic commute.
“The nice thing about riding the coaster is that you get to look at the ocean every morning,” he said. “Since the ads have gone up, I go out of my way to sit on a side without ads on them.”
Tobias said other riders have complained about the view, which is now darkened by the ads covering the windows.
“I get this feeling they jumped into this without considering what it would do to the rider’s experience,” said Tobias.
Not true, said spokesperson for NCTD Alex Wiggins.
“It’s definitely something we took into consideration at meetings,” he said.
The several hundred thousands of dollars generated by the ad space is a benefit that seems to outweigh the cost of a distorted view.
“Essentially we are a transit agency are looking for creative ways to bring in revenue,” said Wiggins. “Every dollar we generate lessens the burden for the taxpayer.”
Fortunately for riders like Tobias, not every car will be wrapped with an advertisement. Wiggins said he recognizes the value of the view, and NCTD wants to maintain a balance between Coaster cars and the advertised space.
“Moving forward, we hope to see more Coaster and Sprinter advertisement,” Wiggins said. “We have a lot of interest from advertisers across the country…it’s more than what we thought it would be.”
Which means the future could be ad-filled for public transportation.
But things could be worse.
“It’s not a bad commute,” said Tobias. “You could be stuck in traffic.”