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Passengers have bus service during San Clemente rail closure, but times are limited

Tania Thorne
/
KPBS
Passengers board a bus in the Oceanside transit center that connects with Irvine during the San Clemente rail closure. Jan, 12, 2023.

Buses have been taking passengers back and forth between Oceanside and Irvine since track repairs in San Clemente began in September. The service, provided by Amtrak, is called a “bus bridge.”

Tanzil Khan has taken the bus bridge a few times."The most important thing I really like is that as soon as I got on the bus, the bus driver was professional and has a kind demeanor," she said.

She said she especially liked that the first thing the bus driver addressed was safety.

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"He said to pull the yellow gear to halt the bus incase he gets a heart attack or some kind of debilitating... epilepsy, or seizure, or something like that," she said.

Khan lives in Oceanside but teaches online in Orange County, and sometimes has to travel. She finds the train and the bus are good options.

"I think it's a very efficient way to save on carbon (foot)print, to not have more cars on the street and save on gasoline," she said.

The only downside, Khan says, is there aren’t as many time slots available for the buses. She found herself having to wait three hours until her bus would depart.

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Other commuters at the Oceanside station also expressed frustration over the lack of time slots available for the bus bridge.

And sometimes they find the buses are sold out.

"I have a ticket for 12:30 (p.m.), but its sold out so I think the next connection is 4:30 (p.m.), so if you want to get on the train earlier, you better Uber or Lyft," said Trond Bie, who uses the train as part of his way to the Los Angeles International Airport.

Transportation officials recommend travelers plan ahead for any delays.

Construction crews continue working to stabilize the San Clemente rail bed that called for the suspension of service in the first place.

The latest news from the Orange County Transportation Authority is that passenger train service will resume in late February.