Transit Talk with the General Manager

August 05, 2016
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

Good afternoon. A lot has happened since I started my new position as General Manager/CEO last month.

As many of you might have noticed, RT is making significant transformational changes. We understand that everyone wants RT to be more customer friendly, more safe, more clean, and more financially stable. I am happy to let you know that we are making notable progress on these areas, and RT has already received compliments from lots of customers and stakeholders. Much of this progress is possible because we are working very hard to operate RT more like a business enterprise and develop a culture of customers first in everything that RT does.

Currently, we are working very hard on five key initiatives:

1. First, the Transit Service Delivery, which centers on improving cleanliness, safety, security and on-time performance. To immediately improve our services, last month, we hired 41 front line employees to clean our trains and stations every night and mid-days, and conduct fare inspections on almost all riders. Now our customers are telling us that our system is much cleaner and safer. Soon we will see more people riding our system. In the meantime, we are relentlessly seeking organizational efficiency. Last month, we cut 25 management positions, over 10% of total management team.

2. Our service to Golden 1 Center: successfully serving G1C is a rare opportunity for RT to show the region the convenience and the value of public transit and to build up new ridership. We are focusing on every minor detail and proactively addressing those issues.

A complete station renovation to the 7th & Capitol light rail station is underway. This station will be the flagship station for light rail service to the Golden 1 Center. Other improvements are planned for the 8th & K and 9th & K light rail stations that include new shelters, improved lighting and additional signage.

We are also developing a great operational and communications contingency plan in case service gets disrupted. Other planned customer service activities include the coordination with Transportation Network Companies (TNC) for first mile/last mile connectivity; shuttles from Sacramento State parking lot to the University/65th Street Station; bike share program; and station activation (entertainment) at key park-and-ride lots on event days.

3. Internal and External Communication is a high priority in this new era of RT. There will be no mystery surrounding our vision and the steps being taken to achieve those desired goals. Honesty and transparency at all levels will move RT forward quickly and we will build stronger partnerships with all regional stakeholders. We are launching a massive communications campaign using text and email messaging, social media, downloadable apps and other communication tools.

4. Accountability and Performance Management are key to making excellence the new “normal” at RT. We are developing comprehensive performance metrics in all key areas. We believe great things get accomplished through the perfection of minor details and strict accountability, and we are holding ourselves accountable on everything we do.

5. Fiscal Management and Innovative Funding will be the foundation on which the future of RT will be built. We are on our way to build a fiscally stable public agency by creatively looking for additional funding sources and relentlessly implementing cost cutting measures.

A world class city requires a first-class transit system, and together as leaders in this community we can certainly build a highly effective, efficient, accountable and well-run first-class transit system to provide best possible transit services to existing and future residents of this great community, drive regional economic growth, and enhance the quality of life for all residents in the Greater Sacramento region.

I value your feedback and I want to hear from you. Please continue to contact me at

Thank you for participating today … Let’s get started.

Sacramento, CA:  Hi, I used to be a huge proponent and regular user of light rail until the last few years when safety concerns caused be to seek out other options. What will be done under your tutelage to improve safety and inject much needed confidence into the local community to promote SacRT as a more viable transportation service? Thanks

Reply:  This is a message we have heard loud and clear from our customers, that they want RT to be more safe and secure. We have taken numerous actions to accomplish this. Security staffing has increased by 400 percent with the addition of Transit Agents. Ticket inspection has increased by 400 percent and the number of citations issued have increased by 600 percent. We have also expanded security at key light rail stations. Numerous riders have reported that they are feeling safer on the light rail system. Among the initiatives is a new mobile app called Alert SacRT which will allow users to initially report nuisance and criminal issues and will later be used to report facilities issues as well. The app will be available to riders sometime in September. RT's security will soon be moving into Sacramento's Real Time Crime Center where they can share surveillance camera monitoring feeds with the City of Sacramento Police Department, the Golden 1 Center, and the Sacramento City Department of Transportation. This pooling of resources will benefit the whole community. RT has also recently received a grant of $36,000 from the Department of Homeland Security to enhance our Police Officers on trains and stations.

Citrus Heights , CA:  RT's fares are too high. Granted, they remained the same for 7 years. Still, they're too high. The SF Bay Area does it for less! Is this because Sacramento is so small?

Reply:  When comparing fares with other transit agencies, it is always important to examine what funding sources are available to fund operations. Transit agencies are unique in that the fares collected tend to be a small portion of the operational funds. Therefore in many cases, State or regional funds collected through sales taxes or other sources tend to be a significant revenue stream for an agency. In RT's case, we receive 1/6 of a cent from the local sales taxes for the region. Many agencies receive local funds of a full 1/2 cent or more. This allows the agencies to keep fare prices lower. To address this problem, RT finds ways to be efficient and keep its operating costs down. Additionally, RT is always looking for opportunities to find additional revenue streams. One in particular is a new sales tax measure, currently referred to as Measure B, that would provide some additional revenue to fund RT's operations.

Sacramento , CA:  I would like to know why bus stops on both sides of Howe at Fair Oaks were removed? Also the bus stop at Howe and Northrup was removed. A lot of students ride the bus in this area to CSUS.he 82 and 87 buses have a high number of riders and the removal of these 3 bus stops has caused inconvenience to many people including the elderly.

Reply:  I am not aware of these bus stops having been removed, and agree with you that their removal does cause an inconvenience. They may have been removed because of construction in the area, but again we will check into it. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Folsom, CA:  We noticed that RT has removed yet another row of seats. That means in the last couple of years, at least 24 seats have been eliminated from each train car. This is terrible. The trip from Folsom to downtown is about an hour, and that is too long to stand. Bring back some seats. This is the summer, so the trains are not as crowded, yet folks had to stand by Sunrise. Even if trains are being modified for the new arena, that use is occasional. We commute every week. Will RT consider bringing back more seats on the trains?

Reply:  What is driving the seat removal is a need to accommodate more riders in wheelchairs. We regularly pass up people in wheelchairs because the spaces on the train that they can use are full with 3 or 4 wheelchairs already. This is not only a problem for the passenger in the wheelchair, it also creates a compliance problem for RT with the Federal Government. Our seat removal provides an added benefit of allowing RT to carry more bicycles on board the trains and it ultimately may allow us to be more flexible for parents riding with children in strollers. We recognize that this is inconvenient for our other customers who would prefer more seats, but we are trying to strike a balance between the competing needs of all of our customers that use the system. While we are making a number of improvements related to the new arena, the seat removals are not a part of our arena improvement efforts.

sacramento, CA:  will you continue the tradition in October were you ride and meet the customers and take input?

Reply:  I will be identifying opportunities to engage with riders on the system throughout the year, not specifically focused on October. I am always welcome to input from customers via email as well. You can send me an email directly at

Sacramento, CA:  How late will Regional Transit operate at the conclusion of concerts at the Golden 1 Center on bus as well as light rail. One person told me that 8pm Concert start times may end well past 12:30am and/or 1am. If that is going to be the case, will I be able to get from Golden 1 Center to Meadowviw and Cosumnes River College in South Sacramento?

Reply:  RT will provide special light rail service during major Golden One Center events, such as the Paul McCartney concert and Kings games. Trains will run past the end of the event to make sure passengers get to their final destination.

sacramento, CA:  there are so many busy streets that dont have service. we use to have great service, with cross town routes, they took them away got ride of transfers. what will you do to fill the areas that had service?

Reply:  RT strives to have the right mix of service that will benefit the most customers. Like all transit systems, we work to balance the desire for frequent service (such as services that provide headways of 15 minutes or less) with the desire for increased coverage (services that are "closer to where I live" or all desired destinations). These two desires (for high frequency AND wide coverage), are often in conflict with one another, especially in regions with suburban settings, low-density areas and key destinations spread throughout a large service area. The conflict is magnified when an agency has very limited resources. RT will begin a system optimization effort this fall that will seek to identify changes that may allow for reallocation of services that better fit the current characteristics of the region with consideration of future changes. RT eliminated transfer for single-ride fares in 2009. RT does, however, offer several multiple-ride fare media such as daily and monthly passes for those passenger that will make multiple transfers or multiple rides in a given time frame.

Folsom, CA:  Greetings Regional Transit: I have a ticket to one of the two Paul McCartney Shows at the Golden 1 Center in early October. In fact, it will be two months from today's date. Have you had the opportunity to sit down with Folsom City Officials on getting trains into our city past 7pm on a consistent and daily basis. We have been growing very upset with them regarding the funding they are giving you that in return, has not given us as late of service like other stations have on the Gold Line west of Hazel, and the entire Blue Line. Come October, Folsom needs to get their financial act together and find your agency for later and/or late night service that is on par with the remainder of light rail stations. I have been growing ever so frustrated, as have my fellow riders that we will not have a light rail ride home at the conclusion of the Paul McCartney concert as well as other things we may want to do in October and beyond that may or may not be Golden 1 Center related, if Folsom does not get their "financial" act together. Please assure me of any progress you may have on this very critical matter to our community. Thank you for your time and careful consideration in developing your response to this issue that needs to be addressed. It is much appreciated.

Reply:  We have had an ongoing dialogue and a great relationship with the City of Folsom and have talked about their service levels for Light Rail. At this point, we have a tentative agreement with the City of Folsom, subject to the approval of the RT Board and the Folsom City Council, that will provide event service to the major events at the Golden 1 Center. For approximately one hour after an event, RT will operate the existing scheduled service that runs every 30 minutes and turns around at the Sunrise station. We will also operate two additional trains between the scheduled service that will continue to Sutter Street. Folsom residents will need to make sure that they catch the correct train. We will have public assistance in the stations after an event to assist our customers so that they know what train to catch. We agree that later night service to Folsom is desirable, and will continue discussing this with Folsom.

Rancho Cordova , CA:  When will RT put the credit/debit card program on ALL the ticket machines?! It is very convienent AND SAFER when customers don't carry cash or coins to pay for tickets! Hurry up with the updating of ALL the machines! The only 1 in the Rancho Cordova area is Mather Field Mills and that's quite a walk from Zinfandale station!

Reply:  Currently RT has 106 ticket vending machines, roughly two at each station. Twenty of the current machines take credit/debit, covering 32 percent of RT's stations. We are purchasing 29 new fare vending machines with credit/debit, which will cover 56 percent of RT's stations. In addition, 13 of the 29 new fare vending machines will allow the customer to pay for parking and fares, which is an added convenience.

Citrus Heights, CA:  My route 28 trip was canceled this morning and I was late for work. I am tired of reading abut all these improvements that will happen for kings riders when I can't even afford a ticket for a game. When are you going to help your real riders?

Reply:  I'm sorry to hear of your experience with Route 28 this morning. RT plans to start a route optimization effort this fall which will consider system changes to route alignments and characteristics designed to benefit the region's existing riders as well as encourage new riders which will result in benefits to the entire community. RT has recently expanded resources to system cleaning efforts and other capital improvement that will benefit all riders.

Sacramento , CA:  Is it possible since route 61 already runs down Folsom Blvd from Florin Perkins Rd to University 65th Station to have it continue from the station to Downtown on the old Rt.36 alignment?

Reply:  Thank you for your suggestion. Route 36 was selected for elimination based on its productivity. Folsom Blvd is within relative close proximity to RT's Gold Line for much of the segment that you suggest restoring service along. Realigning the existing Route 61 line with existing resource levels would result in decreased service levels or coverage elsewhere along its existing alignment. We do, however, understand that some existing riders may benefit from restoration of service along this segment and that it may encourage others to begin to ride. RT will begin a route optimization effort this fall which will include consideration of realignment of existing services to other corridors.

North Highlands , CA:  The bus stop sign has been missing for two months from Hillsdale Blvd. and Andrea Blvd. Why is it taking so long to replace the bus stop sign?

Reply:  Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I do not know what may be delaying its replacement, but will have it looked into.

Sacramento , CA:  Why was there no public announcement that the single use light rail ticket validity time was changing from 2 hours to 1.5 hours?

Reply:  Prior to implementing the light rail ticket validity time change from 2 hours to 90 minutes, staff informed the public through many different outlets. This change was first brought to the public at the January 25th Board meeting, when the concept was presented to the board within the discussion of potential fare increases. Within the next few months, staff held 5 open houses and sent out information to our riders requesting input on the conceptual fare changes. On March 14th, after much discussion from the Public and Board members, the Board approved the recommended fare changes which included the validity change from 2 hours to 90 minutes, effective July 1, 2016. Once this fare change was adopted, staff began posting this information on RT's website, social media, mini posters on the buses/trains, and the newsletter "Next Stop News".

Sacramento , CA:  Will RT have extended hours in the downtown area for bus service on nights when there will be events at Golden 1 Center? There has been a lot of coverage of light rail, but none on buses.

Reply:  RT considered extending the service hours on several bus routes. With consideration of the anticipated demand from various areas as relayed in the travel demand model forecasting provided in the EIR and related documents for the arena, it was determined that augmenting bus service would not be a prudent effort at this point in time. RT is providing additional rail service with the understanding that this would be the most convenient and efficient manner to serve the majority of potential riders. RT views service to the Golden 1 Center as a key opportunity to showcase the ease and convenience of travel by transit for existing and new riders. RT intends to regularly review offerings for major events and adjust accordingly, which may include augmenting some bus routes based upon requests and demand.

Sacramento , CA:  Is transit renewal still in the works? or has RT scrapped the idea

Reply:  RT continues to reference the work done as part of the Transit Renewal effort and will continue to do so with future planning efforts and consideration of service changes. RT has not had the finacial meand to increase service levels as is required for implementation of much of the changes identified in the Transit Renewal study.

Sacramento, CA:  When do you estimate that the route optimization study will be brought forth to the Board of Directors. I have read in other comments that your responses so far has mentioned that RT will begin the route optimization this Fall at the Staff and Committee Level. Thank you for looking into this.

Reply:  An overview of the planned effort is likely to go to the RT Board of Directors this fall so that they may review the effort components. It's likely that this overview of the upcoming effort will be presented to the RT Board prior to the end of November.

Elk Grove , CA:  Why can't RT update their technology like other transit agencies? for example, no real time data for message boards at light rail stations, no smart card, no text alert system to notify riders of buses being late and disruptions, you can only order monthly passes on your website, all fare media should be available online to purchase, May also suggest RT create some kind of "Riders Club" for passengers to join, have monthly giveaways, surveys, contests, etc. A place for riders to add their voice to there transit system.

Reply:  RT is working on real time data for the message boards at light rail stations. In the mean time, RT has a mobile trip planning tool that allows the rider to view real time bus information, schedules, trip planning, routes & schedules, and service alerts. As for your other questions, the smart card program has been something that RT has been heavily involved in and we are making progress with our partners and vendor. As for our website sales, we currently offer the monthly fare and parking passes and we are looking to expanding this offering to discount monthly pass sales. RT has a mobile fare application that allows riders to purchase full and discount single and daily fares. As for your recommendation, we will look into the concept of a "Riders Club" and determine if this forum can provide the incentives you mentioned.

Sacramento, CA:  Your thoughts on providing night service on major lines

Reply:  RT believes that offering adequate service spans is a key component to making truly usable services and encouraging use of services at all hours. Determining the right mix of span for a given corridor with consideration of competing needs with limited resources is an on-going effort for all transit agencies. RT will begin a route optimization effort this fall with will give comprehensive considerations to such changes and anticipated benefits and costs of alternative use of resources.

Comments from Henry Li: 

Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will be held on Friday, September 2.