Transit Talk with the General Manager

March 04, 2016
Mark Lonergan, Chief Operating Officer
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Transit Talk will be live today form noon to 1 p.m. We are accepting questions now through the end of the chat.

Comments from Mark Lonergan: 

Thank you for taking the time to join me for the March session of Transit Talk. My name is Mark Lonergan, Chief Operating Officer and veteran guest host of this forum.

I'll be filling in today for Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO, who is also the 2016 Chair of the California Transit Association's (CTA) Executive Committee and is attending a CTA meeting today.

Before we begin the chat, I would like to congratulate the 2016 TransitAction Awards recipients, whose efforts in support of transit have made a significant and positive impact to public transit in our region.

The following people and organizations will be recognized next week at the Sacramento Metro Chamber's 8th annual State of RT Breakfast and TransitAction Awards on Wednesday, March 9 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento located at 1209 L Street:

Business of the Year: Passport

Organization/Agency of the Year: City of Citrus Heights

Transit Oriented Development of the Year: Folsom Lake College - Rancho Cordova Center

Elected Official of the Year: Congresswoman Doris Matsui

Individual/Transit Advocate of the Year: Mike McKeever

The State of RT Breakfast also provides an annual forum to discuss the Sacramento region's transit priorities. I invite you to be part of the conversation and explore why investment in public transit is critical to the success of the Sacramento region. This year, Mike Wiley will highlight the enhancements and improvements that are on the horizon for RT.

For event information and to purchase tickets, visit

Citrus Heights, CA:  Why is RT not willing to exchange tickets that are about to expire? I understand not issuing a refund but why no exchanges? It has been done in the past, why stop now?

Reply:  Ticket exchanges cost RT time and money and in the current financial climate are something we can't afford. We encourage customers to buy tickets in numbers they can use over a month or two. RT will offer tickets with a new expiration date in May, providing time for customers to use the remainder of the tickets with an June 30, 2016 expiration date purchased in April.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Has RT thought of charging for parking in mare of the parking lots? It seems to me that there is plenty of potential revenue by making all the lots pay-to-park.

Reply:  Charging for parking at RT parking lots, our Park-Pay-and-Ride program, does not generate a lot of revenue. We have had discussions with the RT Board over expanding the program, but there are concerns over charging for parking in areas of the community which typically do not charge for parking and in diverting parking from our lots to surrounding streets. While we appreciate the revenue we do receive from the Park-Pay-and -Ride program, we do not believe it to be a viable source for increased revenue.

sacramento, CA:  when passengers get on a bus and show their pass, is the driver supposed to press a button acknowledging this?

Reply:  When passengers board a bus with a ticket or pass, operators press a button tracking the type of fare used. This data helps RT indentify customer tends, ridership numbers, and reconcile transactions.

Sacramento, CA:  In previous answers to the Connect Card rollout, RT had planned to start public outreach a few months prior to the go-live date, once it was determined. I realize there have been unforeseen challenges with the Connect Card implementation. But, with the current fare media expiring June 30, 2016, and April being a few months before fare media expires, has the go-live date for Connect Card been set yet? If the go-live date has not been set, what are the contingency plans for fare media that expires June 30, 2016 if Connect Card does not go live until after June 30, 2016? For example: FAQ #9 at mentions a grace period for fare media, Question: "9.Does everybody have to use a Connect Card?" Answer: "Most customers will use the Connect Card to pay fares once the system rolls out later this year. Existing passes will only be available on the Connect Card (following a grace period), as applicable to individual agencies." How long will the grace period for fare media be presuming Connect Card goes live before June 30, 2016? How long will the fare media grace period be if Connect Card does not go live until after June 30, 2016? If go-live happens after June 30, 2016, will we be able to exchange our fare media? The current information at says that there will be no exchange. But, if this is true, there will effectively be no grace period between Connect Card go-live and fare media expiration. Thank you for taking time to reconcile these potentially conflicting postings.

Reply:  The expiration of the current fare media is not related to the Connect Card. Tickets and passes with a new expiration date will be sold in May, providing customers time to use any expiring passes they may have prior to the June 30, 2016 expiration date of that fare. RT continues to work through issues with the Connect Card system and when it is ready, at least two months of outreach will be conducted prior to the launch. Also, the Connect Card launch will not mean the end of paper tickets and passes altogether and a grace period will be provided before we discontinue any fare currently accepted.

Sacramento, CA:  Are there plans to improve route 72 and its connection to light rail? Since the changes in September, it's guaranteed to miss its connection to Sunrise/Folsom bound trains without having to wait an extended time (this is compounded by a 30 minute wait on weekends) when there were no issues with connections prior.

Reply:  I will have to share your suggestion with our Scheduling Department. We have always had trouble making all the connections work on this route because it connects with light rail at both ends. It would be helpful to know if you're talking about the connections at Manlove or at Mather and what time of day you experience the most problems. You can send that information to

Folsom, CA:  It was brought to my attention that Regional Transit undergoes scheduled service changes four times per calendar year. Do you anticipate that when Regional Transit has this come up in September, that we out here in Folsom will have access to the Gold Line the same hours that Sunrise and points to the West along the Gold Line already do? With Folsom becoming a destination, coupled with the new Golden 1 Center opening in Sacramento, later hours to and from the stations in the City of Folsom would benefit both cities. Do you foresee that happening starting over the2016 Labor Day Weekend?

Reply:  The light rail service to Folsom is operated under a contract with the City of Folsom and they have determined the hours of service. RT is in discussion with City staff in Folsom over a revised service contract that would provide later night service, and we hope to have an agreement worked out by the opening of the Golden 1 Center this fall.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  I was able to attend one Fare Increase Open House. What could RT do, service improvement related, with the funds it gets with a July 1st fare increase, or will it depend upon the pending action by your board sometime this month? Would it be better to ask the question on this particular topic during the April 1st "Transit Talk" instead, so that it is more clear and definitive as to what action that actually took place?

Reply:  I'm glad you were able to make it to one of the open houses. The fare increase is not really intended to fund new service. RT basically needs the fare increase to close its budget deficit. Fares have not increased in over five years while costs have continued to go up. Depending on the level of the fare increase that is ultimately passed, if there was any leftover funds, that could go to a number of things, and one of those could theoretically be additional service, but based on the comments we've received, most of our riders would like the fare increase to be as minimal as possible, which means it would probably just barely be enough to keep RT out of a deficit.

Folsom, CA:  When will St Rose Station be closed and construction start on 7th & Capitol station?

Reply:  It is anticipated that construction for 7th & Capitol could begin as soon as the next several weeks. St. Rose of Lima (7th/K) would not close until the construction is complete which is anticipated to be around mid September.

Folsom, CA:  Most of our staff have received Debit Cards to pay for our passes from the various local Transit companies. However El Dorado Transit does NOT accept a Debit Card for monthly passes. Is there a way for the folks using El Dorado Transit to use a debit Card at SacRT's 13th St office. Any idea when El Dorado transit will begin to accept Debit Cards?

Reply:  RT does not sell El Dorado passes. I would suggest contacting them at 530-642-5383 and asking the agency this question directly.

Folsom, CA:  When will the proposed fare increases be finalized?

Reply:  RT staff currently plans to take a recommendation concerning the proposed fare increase to the RT Board of Directors at their regularly scheduled meeting on the evening of Monday, March 14th. The finalization of a proposed fare increase will be at the Board's discretion and dependent on their approval of changes.

Sacramneto, CA:  Why did RT decide to create the RideSacRT app? How much did the app cost to produce and how much does it cost to keep it up and working? Has there been any consideration on adding different payment methods like pay pal?

Reply:  The RideSacRT app is a demonstration application to see how well mobile fare pay would work in Sacramento and to see what features RT may want in a permanent application. It was given to us for free for the demonstration period but if successful we would then design and procure a new application to meet Regional Transit's needs.

sacramento, CA:  Ive been riding the #38 bus for many years but operator 2839 in the morning never presses any button for anyone.

Reply:  I appreciate your observation. Operators have a number of duties and my not always record the fare types in front of the passenger as they are boarding the bus. If you have other concerns, our main contact for customers to report operators or about RT service is the Customer Advocacy department. Their number is 916-557-4545. You can also fill out an online form at and you will be contacted.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Could you help me understand and comprehend the unmet transit needs process? Here is where I am confused: when an unmet transit need comment is deemed "reasonable to meet" as is sometimes, but not always the case, how long does the transit agency in which is impacted by the comment have to make said service changes based on the comments that have been determined to be "reasonable to meet?" Is it one year? Six Months? Does the transit agency in which the comment was targeted to even have to make the changes at all? I am totally lost when it comes to this process. How does it work, based on the questions I have addressed here?

Reply:  The unmet transit needs process is used to gather information about transit needs and to determine if a pool of funding may be used for improvements other than transit services. The Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) oversees this process and tries to make it as useful and meaningful as possible. Representatives from area transit agencies attend input sessions in their service area and review all submitted commits. As this is not the only process by which input is given about desired service improvements and not the only consideration with regard to service improvements, and funding levels and resources are variable, there is no set time line for which changes deemed unmet needs that are reasonable to meet must be implemented by. For more information about this process, please visit SACOG's website at

Sacramento , CA:  How much money would RT save each year by shutting down the Greenline ?

Reply:  We've actually done some estimates and we think it would save in the neighborhood of $300,000 annually to discontinue the Green Line service. There would, of course, still be costs for maintaining the station, the track, the overhead, electrical substations, etc. but it would save us a little on labor and mileage costs.

Sacramneto, CA:  How much did it cost to create the RideSacRT app? Has RT had positive reviews so far of the app? Are there any improvements RT is planning on making to the app?

Reply:  The ride share app is a demonstration to test mobile fare payment in Sacramento. During the demonstration it is being provided by the vendor free to RT. Thus far, the app has proven effective and very easy to conduct fare inspection with. Once the demonstration is done, we will assess it's effectiveness and if deemed a benefit will move forward with customizing the app for RT needs. Due to the app currently being free it was an out of the box product without all the design and features that we would want for a permanent product. Hope you have tried it and find it an effective way to purchase fare.

Sacramento, CA:  Why does your staff continually, and illegally, block the bike lane (not to mention the sidewalk) every night outside of the 28th Street garage. This causes pedestrians and cyclists to have to move out into the street in order to pass.

Reply:  Staff places cones in the roadway on 28th Street near the entrance to RT's bus maintenance facility to alert motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to the heavy bus traffic in this area in an effort to increase safe operations for all users. Specifically, RT fuels and cleans the bus fleet nightly with all buses entering RT's fueling facility by making a right turn across the bicycle lane. We are very concerned over the safety of cyclists and pedestrians while we are servicing our bus fleet and encourage extreme caution when walking or cycling in this area.

Sacramneto, CA:  Was the ride sac rt app created in preparation of the g1 center?

Reply:  No, we are working to implement modern and innovative methods for fare payment that make it easier for our riders to purchase and use fare and for RT employees to be able to determine the validity of fare. Electronic forms of fare payment also provide for options in our fare structure that are difficult to implement otherwise.

Sacramento, CA:  A couple of years ago, I was one of approximately 200 folks who tested out the "Connect Card" on Regional Transit. Since then, the card has not launched. I firmly believe that the larger region is "behind the eight ball" when it comes to new fare technology like having a smart card like "Orca" in Seattle, "Clipper" in the Bay Area, and "Tap" in the Greater Los Angeles area. I have two of those cards in my possession now, and it certainly helps not to have to have the exact change when I do go there. Would you say that the "Connect Card" here will launch on Friday, July 1, 2016, and that May and June will be utilized for marketing, outreach, and a very necessary education campaign?

Reply:  The Connect Card project is lead by SACOG however Regional Transit is a major partner in the effort. Unfortunately, the Connect Card project has had numerous issues that has delayed its deployment. At this time, there is no definitive timeline for implementation. RT is working closely with the vendor and SACOG to get the product functional for our riders. RT is committed to not releasing the Connect Card until we are sure that it will function in a reliable manner.

Carmichael, CA:  First, when will additional UTDC rehabs enter service?Second, when will additional bus fleet turnover(new buses entering service)occur?

Reply:  We currently have UTDC cars in service on the Blue Line. We have some station modifications that we need to make on the Gold line before we can operate them there. We are making those modifications so it shouldn't be much longer. We have 66 new buses that will be entering service at various times over the course of this summer. They should all be in service by September.

Comments from Mark Lonergan: 

Thank you for your participation today. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager is scheduled for Friday, April 1, 2016.