OCEANSIDE, Calif. - Two temporary bus lines will shuttle passengers across North County for the next two-to-four months, as light rail passenger service on Sprinter trains will be disrupted due to emergency brake repairs, transit agency officials said Sunday.
The North County Transit District was forced to scrub a fifth anniversary party, and cancel all train service on an emergency basis, when it was discovered that the electric trains' brakes were wearing out much too fast.
NCTD officials halted all light rail service Friday night, after crews found rotors inside the central disc braking system were showing accelerated wear patterns, although tests results met manufacturer and California Public Utilities Commission brake performance standards, the agency said in a statement.
In the interim, transit officials planned to run two supplemental bus routes -- the 618 Sprinter Express and the 620 Sprinter Express.
The 618 express routes will be run using a combination of Breeze busses and chartered busses, and will operate between transit centers in Oceanside and Vista, will run hourly with stops at Sprinter stations on Coast Highway, Crouch Street, El Camino Real, Rancho Del Oro, College and Melrose Drive.
Eastbound 618 service will start at 4:35 a.m. and extend until 10:18 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Friday's schedule extends to 12:18 a.m. Saturday, for night owls.
Eastbound 618 service on Saturdays will begin at 5:33 a.m. and run until 12:09 a.m., and run from 5:33 a.m. to 9:09 p.m. on Sundays.
Westbound 618 service was set to start at 4:35 a.m. and run hourly until 10:14 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Friday night's last bus starts at 12:14 a.m. Saturday.
Saturday 618 westbound service will run from 5:03 a.m. to 11:42 p.m., and Sunday service will run from 5:03 a.m. to 9:42 p.m.
The 620 Sprinter Express will run every 30 minutes during the workweek, and every 15 minutes during the morning and evening commute periods. It will stop at the transit centers in Oceanside, Vista, at Palomar College, Cal State San Marcos and the Escondido station.
Charter coach busses will be used for 620 line service, transit officials said.
Eastbound 620 weekday service will start at 4:10 a.m. and extend until 9:40 p.m. Its Friday schedule extends until 12:40 a.m. Saturday.
Eastbound 620 busses are scheduled on Saturdays to run from 5 a.m. to 12:40 a.m., and from 5 a.m. to 9:40 p.m. on Sundays.
Westbound 620 busses will start at 4:15 a.m. at the Escondido Transit Center and run through 9:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Westbound service on Friday nights will be extended by two hours.
Westbound 620 service on Saturdays will start at 4:45 a.m. and end at 11:45 p.m., service was set to start at 4:45 a.m. on Sundays and extend until 9:45 p.m.
Starting Monday, NCTD staff and volunteers at Sprinter stations will don blue shirts and will help passengers navigate the alternate routes, according to the NCTD.
The train service interruption could last between two and four months, according to the agency. The shutdown will allow the NCTD, the manufacturer Bombardier and the contracted operator, Veolia, to perform repairs.
The suspension came one day before transit officials had planned to celebrate the five-year anniversary of Sprinter service.
Any rider who wants a monthly rail pass refund should call (760) 966-6500, email the NCTD's customer service department at creportsnctd.com or see a customer service representative at the Oceanside, Vista or Escondido transit center.
Updates on the status of the Sprinter and alternative transportation options will be posted at GoNCTD.com, on Facebook.com/goNCTD at on Twitter goNCTD, according to transit officials.