Transit Talk with the General Manager

March 03, 2017
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

Welcome to the March GM Chat.

On February 27, RT held a special Board workshop at 9 a.m. to present RT's proposed Strategic Vision. The Strategic Vision will move RT forward in both the short and long-term by implementing 12 major initiatives, which we believe we can be accomplish over the next two years within our current financial constraints. We proposed an additional four initiatives, where we will need community investment to move the Sacramento region forward. The initiatives feature comprehensive and bold strategies to operate more efficiently, increase service and frequency, focus on "Customers First," attract new riders, advance technology, and address "state of good repair" challenges. RT will also focus on providing quality service, optimize our service network, and significantly improve mobility and connectivity through a Route Optimization Study. RT's mission is to help drive economic growth and improve the quality of life for our many communities. We will accomplish this by engaging all community stakeholders to work with us. If you were not able to attend the workshop, visit and click on the "RT Board Information" link to review the presentation.

The process to get light rail service restored to the Historic Folsom and Iron Point stations has taken longer than expected. It required much of the hardware to be custom built off site. The good news is that one of the instrument cases is almost complete and will go through a series of static tests with installation expected this weekend. Much like the start of new light rail service, there needs to be a series of safety tests that follow the installation. Depending upon how well the testing goes, RT plans to resume regular light rail service on Monday, March 13, or possibly sooner. Again, thank you for your patience.

RT and eight other regional transit agencies have successfully rolled out the Connect Card, the region's new electronic smart card fare payment system. The card is valid for travel on RT buses and light rail trains as well as on e-tran, El Dorado Transit, Folsom Stage Line, Placer County Transit, Roseville Transit, South County Transit Link, Yolobus and Yuba-Sutter Transit. Users can simply tap their Connect Card at a card reader to pay when boarding buses or at light rail stations before boarding trains. The Connect Card can be reloaded online, "Add-Fare" machines at select light rail stations and transit centers, RT's Customer Service and Sales Center, or at a participating transit agency. The best part of having a Connect Card is no waiting in line. Visit for more information or to register your card.

March is a busy month for Golden 1 Center service with several Kings basketball games, great concerts and the 2017 NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Championships to name a few. RT is a clean, safe and convenient way to get to the arena with convenient park-and-ride stations; round trip, group and discounted fares; plus some pre-game camaraderie. Visit for details.

If you'd like to submit comments, have questions or concerns, email me at I take your feedback very seriously and appreciate the suggestions and comments received both here and through email.

Now, let's get to your questions.

Hayward, CA:  I just found a new method of transportation called Megabus and love it. Part of the ride experience is the RT Bus system to get to my final destination. I was wondering if you guys could take a look at the general schedule for Megabus, and make schedule changes to RT buses at University /65th street station to allow for better connections for those of us getting of the megabus on the weekends? Half hour bus service on Route 26 would be most appreciated.

Reply:  Thank you for your comments and suggestions. Megabus does operate a very popular service and we agree that the arrangement at 65th could use some enhancement. There are development plans near the 65th Street Light Rail station that will impact space and locations for bus connections at this station. We are not sure how this will affect the Megabus location but it is a part of the discussion. With respect to Route 26, we agree more frequent service would be a needed improvement. RT is financially constrained and has not been able to fund much needed improvements in frequency system wide. We are beginning a route optimization study that will be evaluating the effectiveness of our current service and future expansion as we seek additional funding. We would appreciate your thoughts and input as this project moves forward. If you'd like to be involved, please email James Drake at to be added to the project mailing list.

Folsom, CA:  Any word on WHEN the platforms will be upgraded in Folsom so that we can use the new lightrail cars? And why weren't they up to the same specs as all the other Stations?

Reply:  The Folsom stations have been modified to work with the refurbished light rail vehicles that RT acquired from Santa Clara. One of the side benefits of the unfortunate service disruption in Folsom was to use the time that the system was out of service to speed up and complete the station modification. The only station that required modification in Folsom was the historic Folsom station where the tight geometry of the turn into the station just didn't work with the refurbished vehicles. The station was also designed at about the time RT was acquiring the vehicles. It was presumed that the front overhang on these vehicles was similar to the Siemens vehicles in the RT fleet. This turned out not to be the case which exacerbated the problem.

Folsom, CA:  Is there ANY chance of getting a second track extended on the Gold Line into Folsom?

Reply:  This is a project that RT and Folsom are discussing. To provide 15 minute light rail service into Folsom, RT would need to double track specific locations allowing trains to pass. The entire line does not need a second track which makes the project less expensive. At this point it is still in the discussion phase. I would encourage you to let the City of Folsom know that this is an important project to you as well. RT operates light rail service into Folsom under contract and the City will need to request and approve the project before it can proceed.

Folsom , CA:  Can you please update us on the status of resuming normal light rail service in Folsom.

Reply:  The damaged equipment has been repaired and is being reinstalled on Saturday. We will have a period of testing in order to assure everything is working properly and that we can operate service safely again. We have allowed a week to complete this testing but we will resume normal service as soon as the testing is complete. At the latest, we expect to resume normal service by March 13.

Sacramento, CA:  Is there any possibility to make Google Map transit real-time schedules for RT?

Reply:  Real-time arrival times are available for RT buses via our RT Tracker tool from a desktop computer or through our mobile app by just going to on your smart phone. You can also subscribe to real-time alerts for your route and stop. We've actually been looking into the cost of porting this data feed over to Google so it is available in Google Maps as well, so this may be something we add, depending its cost to RT.

Sacramento, CA:  Will the CONNECT card offer monthly pass/central city discounts like CLIPPER (SF) or TAP (LA)?

Reply:  The Connect Card will be configured to offer the same fare products or fare equivalents to those that are currently available with RT's prepaid fare media. The RT monthly pass is available now on Connect Card. At this time there is no plan to implement a central city discount on Connect Card.

Sacramento, CA:  Any bus routes getting expanded times? (The 62 would appreciate another bus an hour :)

Reply:  For now, we do not have any funds to expand service with. We are, however, getting started on our Route Optimization project, which will look at reallocating service and which will look at expansion options in the event that a new local sales tax was passed, increasing transit funding. If you'd like to be involved, please email James Drake at to be added to the project mailing list.

Carmichael, CA:  First,the desktop tracker's map feature works on IE,but it hasn't worked on Chrome for the past week or two.Is there a fix in the works.Second,what is route 51X?I've seen the designation on select downtown bus stops,not all of them along the normal 51 alignment.

Reply:  Route 51X is the designation we make when we put extra buses on Route 51 to handle the heavier loads we get from Golden 1 Center employees who park under the W/X freeway. I wasn't aware of the issues with Tracker on Chrome, and it seems to be working on my computer, so perhaps it might help if you write into with a little more detail on what you're trying to do and what's happening, and we can have our IT department look into it.

Sacramento , CA:  Mr. Li, will RT ever make a transition to Driverless Buses or Trains in the future?

Reply:  During this weeks Strategic Vision presentation to the RT Board we spoke about autonomous vehicles specifically that RT was starting to plan for what the impact and opportunities mean for public transit.

South Sacramento, CA:  In your presentation on Monday you talked about increasing frequency on certain routes. Can you tell me what routes you are thinking about increasing service on? Additionally I am curious if you believe that ridership will grow enough to keep the additional service long term.

Reply:  As part of our Route Optimization project, we have already drafted a couple cost-constrained expansion scenarios. It's still premature to release anything until they undergo more review, but it's something we'd like to share in the near future, so our stakeholders can look over some actual feasible scenarios and provide us with feedback on what they'd like to see more of or less of. If you'd like to be on the mailing list for our Route Optimization project, please email James Drake at Thanks!

Sacramento, CA:  Is there a plan to implement live GPS bus tracking?

Reply:  It already exists: We already have real-time info on our buses, but you have to use one of our apps. We have been discussing porting our data feed to Google so it is available in Google Maps as well..

Citrus Heights, CA:  Henry, I thought your presentation on Monday was very interesting, especially when constrained to the two dimensions available on the screen. How are you planning on expanding the presentation (and your plan) to all four dimensions?

Reply:  We are currently working to fine tune the Strategic Vision Presentation based on feedback by the public and the Board of Directors and will go out and present it to various communities in the coming months.

Carmichael, CA:  I read the strategic vision documents online,but will a route-by-route summary of proposed changes be available in the near future?

Reply:  As part of our Route Optimization project, we have already drafted a couple cost-constrained expansion scenarios. It's still premature to release anything until they undergo more review, but it's something we'd like to share in the near future, so our stakeholders can look over some actual feasible scenarios and provide us with feedback on what they'd like to see more of or less of. If you'd like to be on the mailing list for our Route Optimization project, please email James Drake at Thanks!

Sacramento, CA:  Why has the number of cars decreased during commute hours in the evening on the Gold Line? It is so disturbing to travel back home like sardines after a long day at work. We, the riders, do not deserve this type of disservice.

Reply:  Unfortunately, RT has been struggling for some time now to meet our commute time peak vehicle requirement of 4-car trains (3-cars for VTA trains). A major part of our fleet, the Siemens light rail vehicles, reach the end of their 30-year useful life in March of this year. We realize that this causes crowding and while "standing room only" trips are common and considered normal during commute times for transit systems around the country, we certainly want to operate the design capacity of the system. A 30-year-old vehicle with several million miles of service, has more issues requiring maintenance and are less reliable overall. Staff is working diligently to repair and return vehicles to service as quickly as possible, but the real solution is to replace our aging fleet as they reach the end of their 30 year life. This will require a major financial commitment on the part of the community in order to fund light rail vehicle replacement and other state of good repair projects for RT's aging system.

Antelope, CA:  With the recent change to go away from parking hang tags. How will you enforce parking? Is there going to be someone checking license plates at all times?

Reply:  We are currently finalizing a contract with the City of Sacramento to enforce at RT Pay-Park and Ride lots. Changing from hang tags to license plate recognition was necessary for the City to patrol the lots and enforce efficiently.

Sacramento, CA:  Green Line was scheduled to operate from 6-10:30. Will those hours be extended now that the Arena is downtown?

Reply:  There are currently no plans to expand Green Line service for Golden 1 Center events.

Rancho Cordova , CA:  When will you guys be testing trains before opening light rail service back to Historic Folsom?

Reply:  The damaged equipment has been repaired and is being re-installed on Saturday. After that, we will begin a period of testing to make sure that everything is working properly and service can operate in a safe manner. We have allocated one week to complete the testing, but will resume service as soon as the testing is complete if it can be completed in less the one week. We fully expect service to resume by March 13 at the latest.

Antelope, CA:  With the upcoming changes, is RT looking at utilizing smaller buses on a more frequent basis to transport people in Antelope to the Light Rail Station?

Reply:  Yes, in our Route Optimization project we will definitely be looking at options such as using smaller buses to provide service in lower-demand areas.

Antelope, CA:  Will the upcoming changes consider the usage of smaller vehicles with more frequency in places like Antelope?

Reply:  Yes, in our Route Optimization project we will definitely be looking at options such as using smaller buses to provide service in lower-demand areas.

Sacramento, CA:  Good Afternoon. Why do we have to pay for parking at some lots and not others? And with the price of tickets going up, why not keep the price of the lots down?

Reply:  Pay for parking in the light rail lots is a jurisdictional issue. Some of the jurisdictions that RT operates in are not supportive of paid parking in the RT lots in their jurisdictions. Also, free parking is common for most areas outside of the City of Sacramento. Pay for parking in jurisdictions where parking is typically free would be not well accepted or used.

Fair Oaks, CA:  Any news on assuring enough cars for Gold Line trains?

Reply:  Please see my answer to a similar question earlier in this chat session.

Sacramento, CA:  Can more be done to get the people who cause trouble off the trains? For example, there are people blasting their music at loud levels so other customers can't even hear each other, but nothing is done about it. Can the drivers hear that? And is there someone they can call that can then get on and take care of that?

Reply:  In 2016, we increased our fare inspection staff by 300% however we still have gaps in coverage. The staff are tasked with making sure rules compliance is adhered to. We also have officers riding trains both in plain clothes and uniform who enforce the rules. When you have an issue you can use our AlertSacRT app to report incidents or text to 916-318-3330 the issue.

Fair Oaks, CA:  Once around the end of January, the Gold Line was "behind schedule" by 10-15 minutes in the afternoon. I tried to board at 23rd St in the late afternoon, but only two cars arrived and they were overflowing. This doesn't seem to happen often, but are you building resilience against this happening again?

Reply:  Thank you for your question. Please see my response to a similar question earlier in the chat session.

Laguna, CA:  Looking again at the Board meeting slide deck, slide 45 shows a map with light rail extending to Davis. Is this "if the stars align, we strike it rich and have tons of money to burn" wishful thinking that has no practical basis in reality? I ask because "modest" capital expansion projects, from concept to fare service, tend to be completed anytime between 100 years and eternity. (Forgive my sarcasm, I'm just frustrated with the lethargic pace these things move at).

Reply:  With our strategic vision presentation, one of our goals was to get our audience to imagine what could be with additional transit funding. Denver, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and even Los Angeles have all major light rail expansions over the past decade thanks to local support. They made the investment to have first-rate transit in their cities. We want people in Sacramento to realize there's no reason it can't be like that here.

Sacramento, CA:  Hello. I have been commuting on light rail for years. Recently, I saw, for the first time, a hard-working RT employee cleaning the plexi-glass on one of the cars. This is great, but it shouldn't be so rare. Can you increase the efforts in keeping the interior of the cars clean? Sometimes I worry that I smell like urine when I show up to work.

Reply:  There's a very good reason why you seldom see people cleaning light rail cars, and that is that cleaning primarily takes place at night, when the cars return to the yard, where it is much easier to clean all the cars in an efficient way, with all the supplies and equipment in one place. You may be interested to know, however, that less than a year ago we decided to take the step of hiring additional cleaning personnel, on top of the normal overnight crew, so that we can supplement the overnight cleaning with a midday cleaning in the field. So far, we've had a lot of good feedback from this program.

Laguna, CA:  Some State Agencies have transportation teams or staff that allow employees to buy tickets at the subsidized rate. Will state employees be able to do this with the Connect Card as well or will they need to "load the card" at the full rate and get reimbursed by those agencies?

Reply:  State Agencies will have the ability to offer their employees subsidized fares on the Connect Card through the Connect Card Corporate Accounts website. There will not be a need to seek reimbursement. State employees will have the opportunity to link their Connect Card to their employers account and purchase subsidized fares from anywhere with internet access. State employees will also be afforded the opportunity to continue to purchase fares on the Connect Card directly from their employers sales office if they choose to. RT will begin transitioning state agencies to Connect Card once the project has reached a full go-live state. In the meantime, we are working with a small number of agencies to join Connect Card now during the soft launch phase of the program.

Sacramento, CA:  Will Central City fare return?

Reply:  Great question. There is a lot we like about the Central City fare, but it is a discount program, and we are still in a very tight budget environment. Without assistance from technology, it is also difficult to enforce for service that passes thorough the Central City zone. Because the fare structure goes hand in hand with the routes and network design, we will be taking a look at this subject as part of our Route Optimization project, so I'd like to invite you to email James Drake at to be added to our mailing list for the project.

Sacramento, CA:  Are there any plans for a hop-on-hop-off bus for the downtown midtown area on nights or weekends? Something to connect the restaurants and venues?

Reply:  A free/frequent shuttle for the downtown is a nice idea, much like the Central City fare, that could really help popularize transit, but we also have to consider where it fits in with our other priorities like restoring headways on many of our bus routes that have gone to running only hourly. The Route Optimization project will be looking into these types of questions, so please email James Drake at if you'd like to get on the mailing list for this project.

sacramento, CA:  where can I find information about the current streetcar financing plan?

Reply:  You may want to check the SACOG website for current streetcar project information. I understand that the website is being updated with current information.

Sacramento, CA:  After I chatted with you, I got a call from customer relations saying you were concerned and would get back to me after Jeff Damon was home from vacation. That was JANUARY 6th. I have been trying to talk to someone since the election last November. Will Damon call/see me about the Green Line anytime soon?

Reply:  I apologize that we did not get back to you in a timely way. Unfortunately, I do not have your contact information from the GM chat. Please call our Customer Advocacy line at 916-557-4545, explain your question and request, and we will make sure that someone gets back to you.

CA:  I was checking with you for a couple of items: 1. If the Connect Card is due for implementation in June, will you have representatives at the various light rail [and possibly certain bus routes] to inform riders on how this will work? (2) will the outlets continue to be the same? I'm trying to avoid having to go to the R Street site to get a card if these cards can be picked up/uploaded at the various outlets?

Reply:  A full implementation date for the Connect Card has not yet been determined. The Connect Card can currently be ordered online or picked up in person at our Customer Service dept. We are working on a plan to be able to distribute both full fare and discount fare Connect Cards at remote locations once we reach the full implementation date. RT and SACOG are working together to develop a retail sales network for the Connect Card, however not all of RT's current outlet sales locations will be available to load/distribute Connect Cards at the implementation date. We are encouraging card holders to use the Connect Card website to order and reload cards.

Hayward, CA:  Right now, it appears the RideSacRT app is still alive and working. The website said the pilot program was extended. Do you have a timeframe in where a new app is going to be delivered? And when it does get released, will the fares stored in our phone port over to the new app?

Reply:  The new mobile app is planned to be available in June of this year. There is not a plan to transfer fares from the current mobile app to the new one. However, the current pilot mobile app will remain active and the fares will remain valid for a certain amount of time after the launch of the new app. Once the pilot app is decomissioned, any unused prepurchased tickets will be refunded to the original method of payment.

Sacramento, CA:  Dear Mr. Li, Are you concerned that the Trump administration will cut funding for public transit? Is this a concern for RT? It seems like adequate funding is already an issue.

Reply:  It is a concern for RT as it is for all public transit system in the United States. We do not have any specifics concerning what the Trump administration may propose specific to public transit, but we will do all that we can to maintain funding for our services.

Sacramento, CA:  Good Afternoon: Thank you for the increase in rail service at the Golden 1 Center. My hope is that through your "Route Optimization Study" that bus service too will see service increases as many more folks can reap the benefits of this asset going forward. In the meantime, I have a related question. What is RT considering in terms of service increases for the Sacramento FC Soccer team? It has been brought to my attention that they will definitely be at Bonney Field (Cal Expo) through the 2019 Season. Sacramento expects a decision from Major League Soccer this Summer to move into a new facility at the Sacramento Railyards and be an MLS team starting in the 2020 Season. What do you expect to have in terms of service increases for this and the next two seasons at Bonney, and then going forward, at the Railyards Stadium in 2020 and beyond, assuming that MLS awards Sacramento a spot in its league?

Reply:  We are in discussions to provide service to the proposed railyard site for a new stadium. We do not have any plans to serve Bonney Field at this time.

Laguna, CA:  I was looking over the slide deck for the 2/27 Board meeting and slide 38, "Major Capital Expansion Projects" is annoyingly short on details. What is the SVS Loop? When you say "Estimated Start" for the Green Line, is that start of construction or fare service?

Reply:  The SVS Loop refers to the reconfiguration of the Sacramento Valley light rail station. The current track location is actually a temporary layout. The long-term plan is for the station tracks to run north/south and connect with our Green Line track on 7th Street (by going under the new 5th and 6th street overpasses). Among other things, we need this project so we can properly serve the future Railyards station which is adjacent to the planned Republic FC soccer stadium. The "estimated start" date of 2018 refers to construction, in the case of this project.

Sacramento, CA:  Is there really support for a line to the airport that will meander through our neighborhoods for an hour?

Reply:  There is public demand for a light rail extension to the airport and there is public demand for improved service between Downtown Sacramento and North and South Natomas. The Greenline is an attempt to serve both needs.

Sacramento, CA:  Will we get a fence like Arden DelPaso? How will cars turn onto Bannon Creek to take kids to school? How will my grandkids get to the park and library?

Reply:  RT has not put up any fencing along Arden/Del Paso so you may be referring to a City of Sacramento project. We are not familiar with any project near Bannon Creek.

Sacramento, CA:  Has the Green Line been re-evaluated since the closing of Sleep Train Arena, and the failed plans for office structures?

Reply:  The Green Line extension has not progressed to the point of all of its various impacts. There will be opportunity for robust community impacts and concerns to be discussed.

Sacramento, CA:  Can there be a garbage can on each train? It would be great if there were somewhere to put your garbage! Thanks!

Reply:  Garbage cans on trains would be a problem for us because it would be difficult to empty as needed while the train is in service during the day. We encourage people to use the trash cans located in the stations as an alternative.

Sacramento, CA:  Why do you insist on called Green Line, the LPR when every meeting we attend is agarinst the route?

Reply:  The Truxel Road alignment of the Green Line was designated the Locally Preferred Alternative as an outcome of the project's Alternative Analysis in 2003. The Alternatives Analysis is a fairly high-level analysis that looks at big picture issues such as whether it would be better to run the line in the Interstate 5 median or on local roads such as Truxel. The AA process found that the Truxel alignment would be more beneficial.

Sacramento, CA:  What trees will we lose by putting the green line down our main street? What is the plans for the homes that face that street?

Reply:  Design and engineering for the Green Line is not detailed enough for me to comment on specific trees that might be impacted. In some cases, we are still assessing which side of the street would be most feasible, or whether the line should be in the median. You may want to visit the project web site and sign up for more information:

Sacramento, CA:  What measures are planned to beef up the neighborhood streets that will get the traffic that can no longer get through on Truxel?

Reply:  Traffic impacts are a part of the environmental analysis and are considered and addressed as a part of the project.

Sacramento , CA:  What's the problem with proper securement of powerchairs,

Reply:  We are not aware of a problem in properly securing power wheelchairs. If you are having a specific problem please call our Customer Advocacy staff at 557-4545 and we will try to address it.

Sacramento, CA:  I have taken the Watt I-80 line to downtown for 13 years, so I have a pretty good idea of the flow of people, etc. I was wondering why (consistently) the Downtown train will have 4 cars with hardly any people in them, but the Watt I-80 line will have 2 or 3 cars, with standing room only? I am primarily talking about peak commute times. During these times 4 cars are really needed. Thank you! Kathi

Reply:  Unfortunately trains on both lines have been running with less cars. The cause of this is primarily due to the fact that our fleet is almost at the end of their life cycle and so we are having more maintenance issues. We have gotten the same concerns from riders on both line and are hoping to find funding to replace our older fleet so that we can consistently have 4 cars running for our riders.

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager will be held Friday, April 7, 2017.