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North County Transit District Rebuts KPBS/inewsource Investigation

Above: The SPRINTER rail line runs between Escondido and Oceanside.

Evening Edition

Aired 4/18/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.

inewsource Reporter Brad Racino

Matthew Tucker, Executive Director, North County Transit District


A bad rotor, similar to the ones found on SPRINTER light rails.

The SPRINTER rail line was taken out of service earlier this year by the North County Transit District. A state inspection found brake rotor wear that did not meet standards of compliance. Repairs to the brake rotors are now underway.

A joint KPBS-i/newsource investigation took a look at the North County Transit District budget. It found that a designation for funding "Vehicle Drive Overhaul" for the SPRINTER, which was in the budget for fiscal year 2012, was not in the budget for 2013.

The former lead engineer for NCTD told the inewsource that many people knew about the break problem.

The investigation also noted that almost the exact amount allocated for Overhaul in the 2012 budget, was designated in 2013 for new buses and new studies. That, among other findings of the investigation, has been found unacceptable by the North County Transit District.

Here's the original story:

SPRINTER funds used for buses — and studies

April 3, 2013

By Brad Racino | inewsource

Money that was budgeted to fix the brakes and pay for other maintenance on North County Transit District’s SPRINTER was instead used to pay for buses and transit studies, inewsource has learned.

The SPRINTER, a passenger train system that runs between Oceanside and Escondido, has been shut down since March because of worn brake rotors.

The North County Transit District (NCTD) budgeted for problems with the SPRINTER’s brakes as far back as 2010, but this year it removed the maintenance money and replaced it with line items for buses and studies, according to budget documents.

One $500,000 study was commissioned to better understand “what public transportation means for North San Diego County.”

The budget documents shed light on who-knew-what-when about the brake problems that forced the SPRINTER out of service in early March. They also raise questions about why maintenance expenses were scratched and studies were inserted among “capital improvement” items. More

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.


Avatar for user 'pscottcpa'

pscottcpa | April 18, 2013 at 8:32 p.m. ― 3 years, 11 months ago

It seems Mr. Tucker had a difficult time answering Maureen's questions. My concern after listening to the radio broadcast and viewing the evening edition is this: how does important or critical information get reported up the chain of command, including complaints? If it's a contractor, is the contractor's management the final recourse? Are Mr. Tucker and his management team the final recourse? How does the NCTD Board gets it information to do their job? Is the Board doing their job as stewards of the agency and public trust?

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Avatar for user 'ItsJustNotRight'

ItsJustNotRight | April 18, 2013 at 9:21 p.m. ― 3 years, 11 months ago

How does the NCTD Board of Directors, essentially Mr. Tuckers Boss/es, feel about all this and why are they SO SILENT. What are they doing to ensure their fiduciary duty is being carried out? According to Mr. Tucker’s own admission, he wasn’t being told of a serious problem, therefore the Board wasn’t either. Does the Board not see anything at all wrong with Mr. Tucker’s answers and the internal process? Is the Board doing their job and protecting the public funds or just taking a laze fare position and Mr. Tucker’s word on everything?

There are so many contradictory statements in the letters to KPBS from NCTD Marketing and Communications person, so much so they had to send a correction. And what about funds being put into capital expenses that are clearly misclassified (and they point to a grant proposal as their backup explanation that even warns to not classify consulting and training under capital expenses? This is really basic stuff here and Mr. Tucker says he has to educate the pubic on transportation accounting and dismisses the GAS standards. I read all the documents, it’s clear to me.

Is the marketing person sending out letters with such mistakes on a clearly sensitive and challenging issue that questions competency and financial accuracy without Mr. Tucker signing off on them?! Another problem I think.

I have sat on several Boards. I’d be getting an outside person in there to check out the entire operation so quick it would make your head spin. If all’s clear…say so. If not, fix it, and then say so! Wake up Board of Directors, there are a few questions you need to clear up for the public. What say you :
Bill Horn = Supervisor
County of San Diego
Mark Packard Council Member
City of Carlsbad
Don Mosier Council Member
City of Del Mar
Tony Kranz Council Member
City of Encinitas
Ed Gallo Council Member
City of Escondido
Gary Felien Council Member
City of Oceanside
Rebecca Jones Vice Mayor
City of San Marcos
Mike Nichols Mayor
City of Solana Beach
John Aguilera Council Member
City of Vista

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