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Analysis: The Coaster, the commuter train run by the North County Transit District, shuttled 1.2 million passengers between Oceanside and downtown San Diego last year. Because it serves such a large population, the San Diego County Grand Jury checked up on the train’s safety procedures earlier this year.
The grand jury, a residents’ task force that doesn’t file criminal indictments but does have subpoena power, studies various countywide issues and makes recommendations to government officials.
On Wednesday, the group released the findings from its look into the commuter service and highlighted this discovery: The North County Transit District’s website had inaccurately described what passengers can do in the event of emergencies. As of Jan. 25, the website said:
In case of emergency, notify the crew immediately. An emergency intercom is located on the lower level of each Coaster car near the restroom.
The second sentence explaining how people can contact the crew is wrong. No emergency intercoms exist in the passenger cars. If a person ran to the nearest restroom, they would find no button to push to ask for help.
The most recent Coaster cars were made in 2003, five years before federal regulators required emergency intercoms to be installed. Although it’s compliant because the cars were built before the rule was created, the North County Transit District plans to install emergency intercoms in Coaster cars later this year as a safety precaution.
The North County Transit District acknowledged the error on its website and has since removed the incorrect sentence. The website now only tells passengers to notify the crew if there’s an emergency.
Although the intercoms are planned to be installed in the future, we’ve called this statement False because they didn’t exist at the time of the assertion — when passengers caught in an emergency situation could have actually been looking for them.
If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.
Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly said that the San Diego County Grand Jury doesn’t have subpoena power. We’ve updated the story to clarify that the group does have the power.