From U-T San Diego:
With North County’s Sprinter light rail shut down over brake problems, a fleet of replacement express buses crisscrossed the roadways this week, ferrying some passengers to their destinations faster than the light rail system used to — and potentially for a lot less money.    David Brownstone, professor of economics at UC Irvine who studies transportation economics, said it’s nearly impossible to say the Sprinter is the frugal pick today. Ridership has steadily increased on the train since it opened in March 2008 but is still thousands of daily passengers below initial projections. The cost-effectiveness of a mass transit system, Brownstone said, is “a function of density and how many passengers you’re carrying.” North County, with suburban neighborhoods scattered far from train stations, isn’t set up to offer strong rail ridership. And building rail lines is far more expensive than buying buses. “For most areas with that kind of density, you’re better off with buses,” Brownstone added. “It’s usually cheaper to solve (transit demand) with dedicated buses.”

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