Transit Talk with the General Manager

December 02, 2016
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Welcome to the December session of the GM Chat.

This is the time of year for giving, and RT is pleased to give back to our customers and the communities we serve with the gift of a free ride on the annual Holiday Bus. This is RT's way of saying 'thank you' and sending wishes for a happy holiday season. Keep an eye out for the colorful, festive bus with a custom design created by RT's graphic design team.

The Holiday Bus will travel on different routes throughout the Sacramento region from December 1, 2016 through January 2, 2017. In keeping with the 'season of giving,' passengers will have the opportunity to deposit a donation in the farebox (cash or check accepted). All donations will benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children - Northern California. To view the Holiday Bus schedule, visit

December also brings a third month of events at Golden 1 Center. RT is thankful to all the riders who rode light rail to arena events and Kings games. We have received a great deal of positive feedback from many who consider RT a clean, safe and convenient way to get to Golden 1 Center. RT has been operating extended service to Folsom and operating extra trains following major events and basketball games. To find out what events RT will provide extended service for in December, visit and scroll down to the Service Calendar.

This month, we will also say goodbye to 2016! RT will operate extended light rail service for up to 45 minutes, including to Folsom, at the conclusion of the New Year's Eve Sky Spectacular show in Old Sacramento, which begins at 9 p.m. There will also be extended service on this night for the Kings game for up 45 minutes after it ends.

Thank you for joining the GM Chat today. I take your feedback very seriously and appreciate the suggestions and comments that I receive here and at Happy holidays!

Now let's get to your questions.

Sacramento, CA:  Why do the trains have the air conditioner running during early morning commutes when its 40* outside? It's very uncomfortable.

Reply:  The trains are designed to maintain a constant temperature and airflow balancing the number of passengers on board and the frequency of the doors opening and closing to maintain a consistent airflow and temperature. We know that there is no perfect solution and that our riders preferences vary considerably. We are aware that the trains can be on the cold side of comfortable for many riders. We also have limited control over significant changes in temperature. All in all we have erred on the cool side assuming that riders can anticipate it and dress warmly versus the trains being too warm or not having sufficient air flow through the train to keep the air quality at an acceptable level.

Carmichael, CA:  Being someone who voted yes on measure B,my question is this:did the measure fall short of passing due to it being too generous to roads and not generous enough to transit?

Reply:  Measure B obviously came very close to passing, so any number of things could have changed the outcome. We know that a lot of transit supporters wanted to see a greater percent of the funds going to transit. We also know the measure did better in the City of Sacramento than in the County. We also know some of our supporters would have liked to have had more opportunity for involvement. The failure of Measure B means that RT will need to remain cautious and conservative in terms of new expenditures, but we will make the best of it, and if there ends up being another measure in the future, we want to be in a position where the voters feel confident and excited to empower RT to take transit in Sacramento to the next level.

sacramento, CA:  the transit system in Sacramento is the worst in the country for a city this size. what will you do in 2017 to make it better?

Reply:  Having worked at several other transit agencies we know that we have work to do. With that said, Sacramento locally funds its public transit only 1/6th of a penny which is one of the lowest nationally. In 2017, we need to work towards providing the best customer service and quality of service that we can so the broader community recognizes the value of investing in public transit. In 2017, we will be looking at our entire systems bus routes to see where we can enhance the quality of service we provide.

sacramento, CA:  with the republicans taking over in January. and promising to get ride of federal waste in all departments. is rt at risk of losing federal funds?

Reply:  It's difficult to say what the future will hold for Federal transportation funding. On the one hand, Congressional Republicans have traditionally been less favorable to transit spending, and they now have a majority in both houses of Congress as well as the White House. But on the other hand, most of the media accounts are suggesting that the new presidential administration is considering a very large (e.g., $1 trillion over 4-5 years) investment plan for infrastructure. Transportation would certainly fall under that umbrella, and that could certainly include transit as well, so it's not out of the picture that we could see some increases in Federal funding. But obviously, we'll need to be cautious, and conservative in managing our operating budget and be prepared should funding be reduced.

sacramento, CA:  is it gonna be legal to smoke weed at the bus stop when the new law starts?

Reply:  RT has a no smoking policy at stations and at bus stops. We also do not allow e-cigarettes. We do not plan to allow smoking of any sort at our stations or bus stops. I would also review local ordinances and state law on use of marijuana use in public.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Yesterday, as a result of it being the 1-Business Day grace period day for monthly pass riders, I went into your Customer Service and Sales Center Office for a "Connect Card" appointment for the sole purpose of switching my Photo ID for a new "Connect Card" Photo ID. While that went successfully, as I would expect, turning in my December 2016 Sticker, in exchange for applying the $55 credit as an electronic monthly pass did not go well at all, which is why I am submitting a comment/question to you here. I was referred by your entire customer service staff of the name, "Casey Courtright" of whom I do not know who this is. I have been told that "Casey" is a financial specialist, specializing in electronic fare and the transition from paper fare to electronic fare. What would folks like myself need to do through "Casey" to exchange, in the future, any paper fare into electronic fare onto our new "Connect Cards" starting in January? As for me, I receive in my home mail a monthly sticker, each and every month form a "not-for-profit" agency in lieu of being personally financially responsible for the $55 monthly pass. I would have hoped that with the transition from paper fare to electronic fare that all we would simply do is honestly return the yet-to-be applied sticker in exchange for electronic fare loaded by Customer Service Agents onto our new cards. Why does this seem to be so difficult at this point in time to do? Could you look into a way to simplify this, especially for folks that receive their stickers from "not-for-profit" agencies like I do. On a related note, what month does Regional Transit expect will be the last month that stickers will be manufactured for customers and "not-for-profit" agencies to purchase, and the first month that electronic monthly passes will be the only way to go, going forward from now? I apologize for going on too long, but thank you for being patient and fully understanding this inquiry.

Reply:  Greetings: First off, I would like to apologize that you did not have a good experience when inquiring on the answer to your monthly pass/sticker question (related to Connect Card). I would be glad to help you with the answer: We hope to be able to launch corporate accounts during the February 2017 timeframe. Agencies and not for profits would be able to load the monthly pass to your account. In the meantime, you can affix your sticker to your Connect Card. The name that was provided to you, Casey, would be the person who is handling the Corporate Accounts internally. I would be glad to send your name and name of the non profit that you receive your sticker from to Casey so that you will be included in any upcoming launch. Please send your information to

Sacramento, CA:  Thank you so much for assuming the position of General Manager upon Mike Wiley's retirement. The trains/buses are now much clearer, the light rail stations are also cleaned up and the lighting many times I had to call Facilities Management about lights out and vandalism. I am hoping you will continue to bring on more fare checkers. My concern is that the renovated bus shelters no longer have proper lighting, although I have been informed that some of these shelters have solar lighting which never seem to work; that is, when I have to catch the bus in the early morning [Bus 51], the shelters are not well lighted for safety reasons. I would like to see more attention paid to the physical plant [cars/buses] cleaned, fare checking and police than the proposed extensions or "trains to nowhere!" I am a long-time light rail and bus rider from as far as 1965. Thanks again...and welcome aboard.

Reply:  I very much appreciate you positive comments and your long term patronage. We will remain focused on improving RT to make it even more clean, safe and convenient for our riders. In the near future we will be looking more closely at our shelter program and ways to improve it, including improvements in lighting.

Folsom, CA:  First of all, I wanted to let you know that I voted in favor of Measure B last month. I'm hearing that the results are not favorable, even though it received a 65% approval rating. I was told that it needed at least 67% approval to be considered for acceptance. I voted for it because I felt that here in Folsom, we would receive consistent Gold Line service to the hours that Sunrise, Cosumnes River College, and Watt/I-80 do. That being said, it was also brought to my attention that both houses of the legislature in Sacramento will be holding Democratic Supermajorities. Will Regional Transit and other public transit agencies be taking notice of this, and attempt to make the voting thresholds by way of constitutional amendments for things like Measure B, easier to gain the acceptance of the voting public. Hopefully, as one example, would be to make transportation measures need a 55% majority to pass, rather than the nearly impossible 67% to pass. My neighbor tells me that this was what the education industry wanted for school bond measures in California, and they got it in their favor, in that it now only takes a 55% majority to pass a local/regional school bond measure. Shouldn't transportation be treated the same way? If you agree, will this be something you and your legislative department go after in this 2-year Sacramento legislative session?

Reply:  What the voting thresholds should be is not something that RT would actively lobby or campaign for, but as a point of fact, a lower 55 percent majority threshold would certainly make it easier for local communities to enact their own self-help measures. Obviously, like you said, Measure B came in at about 65 percent, so a 55 percent threshold would have meant that it would have passed with room to spare. As it is, had a few votes gone differently, we might have passed the 67 percent threshold anyway. So regardless of if there is any action at the state level, we'll be working hard to make sure voters see the value of RT.

Folsom , CA:  Employees from a company called Maxis are taking most of the parking spaces at the Glenn station. Why is RT letting people park there who aren't taking light rail?

Reply:  We are working with the business to address the ongoing issues as we have had numerous complaints. The lot has been leased out to the City of Folsom and we have contacted them to try and address the issue as well. We will continue to work on a resolution to allow our riders a place to park at that location.

Sacramento , CA:  The station lighting at the unused Morrison Creek station is on 24-7! This is a waste of energy, even if they are LED. Also, why do the trains slow to 25 mph at an empty station?

Reply:  We will check into the lighting at the Morrison Creek Station. We do want the lights on after dark for safety. The trains also slow just for an added measure of safety. Even though the station is open, people have a way of being where they shouldn't be. Slowing the trains allows the operators time to react if we have a trespasser.

sacramento, CA:  what new bus service in January?

Reply:  Just one minor change: Effective January 1st, on Route 72, on weekdays, the trip that leaves Branch Center & Kiefer at 3:13 p.m. will leave 7 minutes earlier at 3:06 p.m.

Sacramento , CA:  Why do "out of service" buses idle on 8th street just north of O? I commute on another carrier that sometimes needs to go more than half way up to N street before there is a spot to get out of traffic?

Reply:  These buses are only out of service for a short period of time and are typically either just about to start a route or are changing between two routes. They are not laying over for an extended period of time, and their use of this space is an important part of staging our service.

sacramento, CA:  i know you did great work you did in Florida. i already see things getting better. thank you and your team

Reply:  Thanks for the nice comments!

sacramento, CA:  i am disabled and i do not really understand about the connect cards. and why do the drivers do not always put down the ramp for walkers.

Reply:  Thank you for your interest in Connect Card. For more information on the Connect Card and questions regarding Discount Riders, you can go here: If you would like to speak with someone directly about the Connect Card and report your concerns with the ramp, you may contact the Customer Advocacy Department by calling (916)557-4545.

sacramento, CA:  is the streetcar project on hold?

Reply:  The Streetcar project is continuing. RT's role on the streetcar is primarily technical assistance, and we're continuing to support the project. The Cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento along with SACOG are continuing to progress the project through the funding and design process.

sacramento, CA:  i was born in raised here i can think of when the routes where longer and ran more often. and not all cut up into three routes.can we go back to the long routes?

Reply:  There can be a bit of a tradeoff between long routes and short routes. Short routes obviously force riders to transfer more than long routes do. But short routes tend to be more reliable. Shorter, higher frequency routes, can also offer more connectivity and choices of destination for the rider

sacramento, CA:  how would we get the government to restructure the amount of funding Sacramento gets?

Reply:  That's a big question! We get funding from a lot of different sources. Our Federal funding depends a lot on what the new presidential administration and Congress decide to do. At the local level, RT gets about a third of a half-cent sales tax through Measure A, which covers all of Sacramento County. That amount would have approximately doubled had Measure B passed at the polls in November, however, it came up just about 2 percent short of the 67 percent threshold. The State of California assists transit through sales tax as well as through motor vehicle fuel tax. There are dozens of other small programs such as Cap and Trade at the state level and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) at the Federal level that help RT with various expenses such as vehicle replacement and other capital needs.

Sacramento, CA:  "we need to work towards providing the best customer service and quality of service" should focus on the daily rider first. Until you understand this, you will not succeed.

Reply:  We absolutely agree. All our riders are important and the initiative to make customer service and quality is to keep our existing riders and to develop new riders. As our freeways and roadways become more congested we have to provide a viable option in public transit for all riders.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  What does RT have to sell so public can support? Relying service and great customer service play major role in getting public support. What have RT been doing in those matters?

Reply:  We've actually had a terrific response from our customers about some of the improvements we've made over the past year, including more ticket inspectors on light rail, better security presence, cleaner trains, and cleaner stations. This has been very well-received by our regular riders. At the same time, with the Golden 1 Center opening, we've been able to capture a lot of new riders who never tried RT before. The effort of our staff to make the Golden 1 service pleasant and convenient for these new riders has been tremendous, and we're very excited about the prospects of having so many new customers learning to ride for the first time and having a positive experience.

CA:  What is going on with pbotoid discounted connect card?

Reply:  Good afternoon: Thank you for your interest in the Connect Card. You can get detailed information on obtaining a discount ID card here: If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call the Customer Advocacy Department at (916)557-4545.

Sac, CA:  How is soft launch doing for connect card ? I heard 150? Testing now?

Reply:  Great Question! There are approximately 300 users at this point. We are learning a lot about how our riders are actually using the Connect Card system and will be using the next few weeks to make improvements and modifications to the system that will enhance our riders experience when we enter into a full system implementation.

Sacramento, CA:  i would like to know how much more extended the light rail will be and what about bus es as well. there is a lot of events going on in the month December and that will make the buses and the light rails late at times. But what i really want to know is how you can make it more better for people in walkers and wheel chair and how to make sure that the derive always puts the ramp down for the wheel chairs and walker because they always do not want to help us at all.....

Reply:  Check the following calendar for when we run extra light rail service: (scroll to the bottom of the page) The operators are required to deploy the ramp for customers in wheelchairs and other ramp users, so if you observe a specific instance of non-compliance, we'd ask that you report it to or 916-557-4545.

sacramento, CA:  how much would it cost to go low floor for light rail?

Reply:  New low floor light rail vehicles are approximately $4,000,000 per vehicle, so a complete conversion of all 97 light rail vehicles in RT's fleet will be very expensive. Our plan is to start a conversion to low floor vehicles as we replace our aging fleet. The first 26 light rail vehicles that went into service in 1987 reach the end of their useful life next year and will provide us with the opportunity to start that conversion. Along with the vehicles we will also need to modify stations that were not built to support low floor vehicles. All new stations have been constructed to support low floor vehicles. The older stations will need to be raised allowing accessibility for the low floor vehicles. This also adds to the cost of the conversion.

sacramento, CA:  i ride the last 23 toward sunrise why does it run so late for one person?

Reply:  I'm not sure I know what you mean. We're out of time, so you may want to just call Customer Advocacy at 916-557-4545 if you are finding that the bus is regularly running late.

Sacrameto, CA:  what do we do when we talk to the Customer Advocacy Department and they do not act on it the right way it should be handled

Reply:  If you have any concerns regarding a previously reported concern, you may request to speak with the supervisor, Jamie Poole-Canevari. She will be glad to assist you. Please call 916-557-4545.

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will be held on Friday, January 6.