North County Transit Bans Alcohol Aboard Trains - NBC 7 San Diego

North County Transit Bans Alcohol Aboard Trains

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    NTCD Votes to Ban Alcohol on Coaster Train

    After years of controversy, the North County Transit District voted unanimously to ban drinking on the Coaster train. NBC 7's Vanessa Herrera has more. (Published Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014)

    The North County Transit District voted unanimously Thursday to ban alcohol consumption aboard their trains.

    "It's banned, period," said Board Chair Bill Horn.

    Residents gave testimony for and against the ban, discussing alcohol-fueled disturbances that have plagued passengers aboard the Coaster trains following Padres games, the Del Mar races and other major events.

    Until this decision, open alcohol containers were allowed on the Coaster between 5:15 a.m. and 9 p.m. The ban will go into effect February 1, 2015.

    A majority of those who spoke at the NCTD hearing supported the ban.

    One supporter, a San Diego resident named Ronda, said she was on the train this summer when it got delayed for an hour and a half. Officials told her it was because of an alcohol-related incident that let to a fight on the train.

    "The same thing happened ironically at the end of the weekend on Sunday coming back from Santa Barbara so I think it would be a good idea," said Ronda.'

    But others who spoke in opposition to the ban say riding the Coaster is a social time where they can relax on their ride home and have a glass of wine or beer.

    "There's a number of people that like to share a cocktail," said Solana Beach resident Robert Motschall, "and the problem that you're trying to get rid of is the rowdy drunks coming from baseball games or the track, and you're not going to solve that problem with that ban."

    The Coaster previously had issues with alcohol consumption on the train. In June 2009, complaints about rowdy behavior and occasional drunken brawls prompted North County Transit District staff to reconsider an alcohol ban on Coaster trains.

    Transit board members rejected the blanket ban in May after a majority was hesitant to punish riders who imbibe responsibly but they are now considering a new proposal of solutions.

    A month later, the Coaster passed a nighttime ban on alcoholic drinks after 9 p.m.

    "To be honest with you, I've addressed this issue about five times in 20 years," said NTCD Chair Horn. "I just decided, for me personally, OK, that's enough. If you can't behave, you can't follow the rules, we're just going to end it period."

    During Thursday's meeting, the board also banned  e-cigarettes aboard the train and on district property.

    The Coaster was the only local commuter train that allows drinking onboard.