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North County Transit District Rebuts KPBS/inewsource Investigation

The SPRINTER rail line runs between Escondido and Oceanside.

Credit: NCTD

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

inewsource Reporter Brad Racino

Matthew Tucker, Executive Director, North County Transit District


Photo by Nicholas McVicker

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

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