Transit Talk with the General Manager

January 08, 2016
Mark Lonergan, Chief Operating Officer
RideSacRT Mobile Fare App, Magnetic Stripe on Tickets

Comments from Mark Lonergan: 

Happy New Year and welcome to the first Transit Talk session of 2016. My name is Mark Lonergan, RT's Chief Operating Officer, and I will guest host today's chat.

For those who don't know me, I've been with RT for more than 38 years and I have served in departments across the District, including Planning, Transportation and Facilities Management. I previously served as Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Light Rail.

Before we begin today's chat, I would like to encourage everyone to download RT's new mobile fare app RideSacRT, which allows customers to purchase, save and use fare for RT bus and light rail trips directly from a smartphone. Download the mobile app from the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android) today.

The free mobile app is a six-month pilot program that will initially offer Basic and Discount single ride and daily passes. An added benefit to using the mobile app is that single ride fare is valid for up to 90 minutes once activated, which means that an RT mobile ticket can be used to ride both bus and light rail. However, the ticket must be valid for the duration of a light rail trip. In addition, up to 10 RT tickets or passes can be purchased and stored on the mobile app for later use until June 30, 2016.

I hope that the ability to purchase RT fare anywhere at any time using a smartphone and credit card is a valued convenience for all RT passengers.

Staying on the subject of fares, effective Monday, February 1, passengers will be required to swipe all passes and tickets with a magnetic stripe in the farebox upon boarding buses to confirm validity. Fare media with a magnetic stripe include monthly passes, semi-monthly passes, daily passes (pre-paid, farebox-issued and fare vending machine-issued), and pre-paid single ride tickets.

RT is asking bus passengers to have passes and tickets ready to swipe to expedite boarding. On light rail trains, passes and tickets must be available for visual inspection.

Finally, I would like to invite everyone to join me, RT employees and their families, and take part in the 35th annual Capitol March for the Dream on Monday, January 18.

The march honors the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the sacrifices made by pioneers of the American Civil Rights Movement. It is also the largest endeavor supported by RT's 8th annual Season of Civil Rights, a series of events during the months of December, January and February designed to build awareness of the significant role that transit has played in the American Civil Rights Movement.

As a special honor in his final year as RT's General Manager/CEO, Mike Wiley has been selected as the 2016 Grand Marshal. For more information about the march, visit

Let's begin the chat.

Rancho Corfova, CA:  I have seen RT promote the mobile fare app on Facebook, and have read the follow up information on I am wondering how long of a delay you see between the end of the 6 month pilot and the roll out of the "final mobile application"?

Reply:  RT is planning on a seamless transition between the pilot and the final application. Whether or not we can achieve this depends upon what we add to the competitive procurement for the final application based upon our experience with the pilot and the vendor selected. If we can not achieve an overlap, we will have a plan for users to transition between the two applications.

Sacramento, CA:  I've noticed the guards have stopped asking the transient riders who have "moved in" to the train for the day to gather their belongings that hare strewn about an entire end of the train. The guard said it's illegal for them to ask the people to move and/or not take up four seats on the train. Any truth to this?

Reply:  In general, there is no rule or ordinance in place to manage sleeping on the train. However, we do enforce rules against people occupying more than one seat, sitting or laying on the floor, excessive baggage, or anything creating a safety hazard in the aisles.

Rancho Cordova , CA:  What's the progress on getting the refurbished UTDC light rail cars in service on the Gold Line?

Reply:  We have UTDC cars in service on the Blue Line currently. We can not operate them on the Gold Line without making modifications to a number of the mini-high platforms at various stations. The most significant and involved modification is at the Historic Sutter Street station in Folsom. These modifications will be made during the spring and summer after which we will be able to operate the UTDC cars on the Gold Line. Similar modifications were required on the Blue Line. We made the Blue Line modifications first because in total they were not as involved as the modifications on the Gold Line, specifically the Sutter Street station.

Carmichael, CA:  I've noticed some newer shuttle vans being used on the 33 and the 95 in the past couple months.Do the shuttle vans normally have a shorter operating life than the full size buses?

Reply:  Yes, the buses we operate through our Community Bus Division are under 30' in length and have a 5 to 7 year life versus a 40' bus which is 12 years. There are substantial differences in the way that the two types of buses are constructed which accounts for the difference in life span.

Sacramento, CA:  Will Los Rios students need to swipe their student IDs on buses starting Febraury 1, 2016?

Reply:  No, Los Rios students will have to show valid student ID and transit sticker to their bus operator or transit inspector.

Sacramento , CA:  Currently at the Caltrans HQ / “Golden One” stop, the timing of the light rail coming from both direction are almost at the same period/time with the one from the opposite direction. The warning bell they use for all direction is the same. When people crossing the rail behind the moving train, they can misjudge the warning bell, and assuming that the warning bell sound comes from the train that going away, but not from the one that coming to you. It will better if they use a certain warning bell /sound for one direction and make sure to use a different tone for the other/opposite direction. They may reduce possible accident whenever the light rail meet at any point (not just at Caltrans) where warning bell is needed. Can different tones be used for the trains?

Reply:  We appreciate it when matters of this kind are brought to our attention. We have forwarded your feedback to our Safety and Light Rail Departments for review and investigation. The appropriate supervisor will respond within a reasonable time from receipt. Should you require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our Customer Advocacy office at 916-557-4545.

Sacramento, CA:  In terms of the new mobile app is concerned, will I have the ability to track a bus and/or a train in real time? Does the mobile app replace what RT had before in a mobile web app, or are there now two apps until June 30th?

Reply:  Currently, the new mobile fare payment app does use real-time bus information when planning a trip but you cannot look up individual routes or stops. The app's main functionality is to provide the ability to purchase and use single ride and daily passes from a smartphone. RT plans to integrate the RT Tracker mobile web app functionality into the final version of the mobile payment app this summer. In the meantime, we have new app available in the App Store and at Google Play, while the RT Tracker is available at

Antelope, CA:  This isn't nearly as exciting as reading the responses on your Facebook posts.

Reply:  Thank you for joining us today.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  I am a bit confused about the swiping your website discussed that takes effect on February 1st. I receive monthly stickers each month in the mail from a vendor at no cost to me. Beginning in February, will my discounted monthly passes no longer be stickers, but rather a card that I have to "swipe" through a reader each time I board the bus?

Reply:  The requirement to swipe will not apply to our passengers that utilize photo id cards and attached stickers. It will be generally business as usual traveling with your pass. The swiping requirement will only apply to our fare media that has the magnetic striping.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Any chance of a bus stop being added on Greenback at Garfield (EB) for the 80/93/103 routes and on Greenback at Verner (WB) for the 80/93/103? With the movie theater there and shopping plaza, it would be helpful. It's a long walk from Indian River or Diablo in the other side of I-80.

Reply:  The speed of travel on Greenback and proximity to the I-80 ramps, as well as other physical conditions may create stop placement difficulties, but we will investigate the request further.

Sacramento, CA:  As a transportation coordinator at a workplace for people with disabilities, I want to know what the status of Connect Card Implementation is. Two years ago this May, I was one of 200 individuals that pilot tested the card when it started as an RT program only. Since then, I have been informed that up to nine transit agencies will participate in the Connect Card Program, but on the other hand, I am continuously informing our internal customers (clients) that they need to look in their regular mail each month for a sticker. That has been ongoing for the past two years, for crying out loud. What's taking so long? When can I positively inform our internal customers (clients) that we are officially transitioning from stickers on a monthly basis to the electronic Connect Card? Enough is enough already!

Reply:  I agree with and appreciate your frustration with the delays to the Connect Card project. As you probably know, this is a regional project with SACOG being the project lead and RT providing significant technical and project support. We have experienced a lot of technical challenges that are taking more time to work through then we would have hoped. We are collectively continuing to work through the remaining issues with the intent of implementing a complete Connect Card pilot, with a limited number of initial users, in the Spring.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Will Regional Transit hold regular office hours on Presidents' Day - Monday, February 15th - or will Regional Transit offices be on a holiday schedule that date? I run a care home, and want to take my residents down to Regional Transit to get Smart Card Photo Identification Cards, if the product is ready by that Holiday. My residents work in Adult Day Programs on weekdays, but will be on Holiday Schedule (program closed) on Presidents' Day. As a result, I want to take full advantage of Presidents' Day, if I can, and get them into your Photo ID Center for the new Smart Card Photo Card, if you happen to be offering this product by then. Thank you for looking into this.

Reply:  We will be operating on a regular schedule for president's day.

Citrus Heights, CA:  I saw the request from a participant requesting a stop on Greenback at Garfield/Verner. I have rode the 80/93/103 many times. From my own assessment in this situation, having a stop alongside Starbucks on Eastbaoud Greenback, just past the intersection makes complete sense. The opposite direction is another story. It is completely unsafe. In that regard, should you agree to this assessment, I would recommend that passengers intending to travel Greenback Westbound, be allowed to board Greenback Eastbound and "ride around" for their safety and the safety of RT operations. This would be a win-win situation, in my opinion.

Reply:  Thank you for your input. We'll keep it in mind as we look into the idea.

Sacramento, CA:  You mentioned a "Sutter Street Station" in Folsom. I don't see that station on your system map. Is that another name for Historic Folsom?

Reply:  Yes, you are correct. When I referenced Sutter Street Station, I was refering to the Historic Folsom Station.

Sacramento, CA:  May light rail stops aren't highly accessible to pedestrians. This is especially true of the Arden stops and the stops in South Sac, which often lack easy crosswalks and good sidewalk access. What is being done to address this?

Reply:  RT is working with local city and counties as a partner in the "Complete Streets" effort to develop infrastructure that provides better accessibility for transit riders, cyclists, pedestrians, motorists and more. Over time, improvements will be made and currently we do our best to accommodate our riders.

CA:  What is the status of the streetcar project? With the revenue initiative going down, does that mean it's effectively dead in the water?

Reply:  The revenue initiative was a part of a larger funding plan for the Streetcar project. The City of Sacramento is pursuing another approach to funding that part of the project that would have been funded through the failed initiative, so no the project is delayed but not dead at this point.

Sacramento, CA:  The no smoking policies for RT bus stops and train stations were implemented some time ago. A law with no teeth is not useful. We encounter smokers waiting for rides quite regularly... including RT employees. When will enforcement begin so we can enjoy a smoke free commute?

Reply:  We are engaged in active enforcement of the no smoking ordinance with police, plain clothes officers and transit officers. It is important to note that the no smoking rule is only on station platforms and bus structures. Many of our stations share public sidewalks where we are not able to enforce. We encourage calls to our operations center at 556-0275, when a person is in violation and our guards are not addressing the issue.

Laguna, CA:  When you guys get the low floor LRTs, will bikes be allowed in the middle of the coaches (at the pivot point)?

Reply:  Yes, bikes, wheelchairs, strollers, everyone will be able to board at any door with low floor access.

Comments from Mark Lonergan: 

Thank you for participating today, our next session will be held on Friday, February 5, 2016.