Transit Talk with the General Manager

May 05, 2017
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

Welcome to the May Transit Talk with the General Manager!

May is the Sacramento region's annual 'May is Bike Month' campaign. This is the 13th year that volunteers, businesses, public agencies and enthusiasts will partner to promote bicycling for all types of trips. Biking is always a great way for people to link to transit. All of our buses and light rail vehicles can carry bicycles!

To learn more about the events, pledge trips, post photos and receive bike-related updates, "Like" May is Bike Month on Facebook at, visit or call 916321-9000 for more information.

Be sure to visit RT's booth at the annual Bike Fest at the State Capitol building on Tuesday, May 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Note that on Monday, May 8, the City of Roseville and City of Citrus Heights will temporarily close the Louis and Orlando Transit Center for construction of a new and improved transit center. Upgraded amenities will include covered passenger boarding areas with improved ADA access, improved bus loading space, a landscaped public park-and-ride lot with 44 spaces, including electric vehicle charging stations, as well as bike lockers and racks. Construction is funded with state and federal grants.

During construction, buses will temporarily pick up at Auburn Boulevard before Auburn Oaks Court. Look for A-frame signs indicating where to board buses. Route schedules will remain the same.

Lastly, a reminder that RT wants to help build awareness around the current state of our transit system. We're asking for the public's input to gather ideas and feedback in an effort to explore what could be done with additional transit funding throughout the region. Please take the short community survey to let us know what you think.

Now let's get to your questions!

Fair Oaks , CA:  Can I have bus stop #5275 on Fair Oaks Blvd. removed from in front of our property? We are having issues with loitering, as well as being an eye sore.

Reply:  We are reluctant to remove bus stops without an alternate location. Our staff will take a look at this particular stop and see if there is any additional cleaning or security that would improve this situation for you.

Sacramento, CA:  I saw, earlier this week on FOX-40 that the region brought back with it, $50 Million from Washington, D.C. for the Riverfront Streetcar Project. I think that is great. Was any additional money made available and/or awarded to the region for existing bus service. This is where I think, with funding, that Sacramento RT in particular can improve. Local funding is critical, but funding from Washington, D.C. needs to do its part too. I don't trust the process back there with "Donald Duck" as President. I'm greatful that the "Cap-to-Cap" happened and that Streetcar is getting $50 million, but at the same time, why should our federal dollars have to suffer under this President?

Reply:  The $50 Million that you are referring to relates to a very specific Federal funding opportunity, the "Small Starts" grant program, and is not available to fund operating costs. This specific allocation is only for the Riverfront Streetcar project.

Sacramento , CA:  I use a scooter and the lift is not working at 8th & Capital, do you know when it will be repaired?

Reply:  We were not aware that the lift at 8th and Capital was not working properly. I have alerted our Facilities staff and they have called in a repair technician so it should be operating again soon.

Laguna, CA:  "Be sure to visit RT's booth at the annual Bike Fest at the State Capitol building on Tuesday, May 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m." - Did you mean Thursday, May 11?

Reply:  Yes, Thursday, May 11. Thanks for pointing out the typo!

Laguna, CA:  What's the URL for the survey?


Folsom , CA:  At what capacity does RT stop passengers from boarding the train? It's unsafe and unhealthy for passengers to be crammed on two car trains.

Reply:  There is no set capacity at which point RT would stop letting passengers board a train. There is no safety risk from crowded trains, and if you have ever riden a rail system in a major city, BART being a very close example, crowding is extremely common. We realize that our current inability to regularly operate 4 car trains is increasing crowding overall, and we are working diligently to try and over come that.

Citrus Heights , CA:  I would like to know why route 25 comes down residential streets, Hackberry Lane, when it’s not in service. There are no bus stops on Locust, Hackberry, or Cypress. There is a church and school by Locust and Manzanita, for safety reasons the bus should not be going down these residential streets. Do you have an explanation why Route 25 operates on these residential streets; why can't RT have route 25 travel straight down Manzanita?

Reply:  In September 2015, RT was able to improve the service frequency on a portion of Route 25, which extended the short turn trips by 1.6 miles without added cost. This no-cost service improvement moved the turn around location from Fair Oaks Blvd. and Marconi to Manzanita Ave. and Cypress, requiring the vehicle to traverse along Locust, Hackberry, and Cypress. Although there are no active bus stops along this portion of the route, it is a critical segment that allows riders closer access to the neighborhood via the bus stop on Manzanita and Locust on a more frequent basis. We understand that you have safety concerns as a resident; however, please be assured that many RT bus routes operate along residential streets, and safety is always a primary concern. RT operators are trained to maneuver the vehicles with high precaution, especially when there are schools nearby. If you have encountered an incident in which a vehicle was operated unsafely, please do not hesitate to let us know. You are always encouraged to report incidents with our Customer Advocacy department, at 916.557.4545.

Sacramento, CA:  Hi There, I board the train at Watt-I80. These past weeks, the stairs do not seem to have been cleaned and smell of urine. Will they be on a regular cleaning schedule soon? Also, we do not have regular security to enforce the no smoking at the top of Watt I80 or at stations 13th and 16th. What plans do you have to enforce the no-smoking policy at RT Stations?

Reply:  I am sorry to read about your experiences at RT light rail stations. RT has hired additional cleaners and makes a point of cleaning stations on a regularly scheduled basis. I will forward your comments to RT's Facilities Department. Regarding smoking at stations, RT security guards should be enforcing the 'no smoking' policy. I will forward this information to RT's Police Services Department.

Laguna, CA:  I don't know which of your bus operators are driving down 8th street, but they are pretty reckless. Last Thursday (4/27), I was pulling into the parking garage (around 1:50 pm) at 8th & Q and had to wait for a pedestrian. The bus (missed the number) that came up behind me went around me instead of waiting (even though the light was red) and cut in front of me so closely that he tripped the parking sensor in my car! The distance indicator tripped at 6 inches! It seems to me that these people prioritize on time performance over safety. Or maybe they just view other cars as obstacles that need to be eliminated? I don't know but I was pretty PO'd.

Reply:  Thank you for taking the time to bring this to my attention, and I assure you that safety is our primary concern. We will try to identify the operator from the information that you provided, but it always helps if you can report the bus number as well. All of our buses have forward facing cameras that can provide detailed information on the operators driving behavior and helps us determine if any corrective or disciplinary action is appropriate.

Carmichael, CA:  I know NextBus has an official app,but is RT one of the supported agencies on it?

Reply:  RT has it's own Real-Time bus tracker You can type the url in your phone browser, then save it to your home screen and it will appear as an app on your phones screen.

Laguna, CA:  As you know, the Siemens trains are approaching the end of their useful life (30 years). Is this part of the reason why you've been running 3 car trains during commute hours? Will you be purchasing new (preferably low floor) trains soon?

Reply:  The first 26 Siemens vehicles that RT purchased to open the light rail system in 1987 have actually reached 30 years in service and there availability for service is a problem and a part of the reason that we are regularly operating 3 car trains. We are planning for their replacement which will start a system wide conversion (as vehciles are replaced) to an entirely low floor fleet. Our current limitation is funding. The replacement of our Siemens fleet is a $160 million project. We will need a new source of funding to make this happen.

Laguna, CA:  I would also suggest to the individual in Folsom that they look up the YouTube videos in Japan of train conductors (or guards) literally pushing people into the trains so the doors will shut.

Reply:  It is true that in many other cities and countries, crowded trains are considered normal.

Sacramento , CA:  What is RT policy regarding passengers who have a daily pass who want to ride the train for a period of time? Do you have a time limit a person can be on the train? Can operators deny a person on the ramp from boarding because they have a daily pass and just want to ride on the train?

Reply:  A daily pass allows a passenger unlimited trips on buses or trains for the day that the pass is purchased.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Is there any chance, while we wait for official word from Major League Soccer regarding our existing USL Club, that Republic FC matches receive the same late night service considerations like the Golden 1 Center did for all of their events. I am a big fan of the Sacramento Republic, but am scared to go to matches at Papa Murphy's Park until I can be assured that the late night service in place at the Golden 1 Center will be put into place at Papa Murphy's Park on a temporary basis. Temporary until the MLS Stadium at the RailYards is built and they then move over and play all their matches there. Thank you.

Reply:  Currently, the closest RT bus service to Cal Expo is along Route 67 and 68; specifically, the bus stops located at Heritage Lane and Exposition Blvd. Although it is a bit of a walk from the bus stop to the park, this is the only service that currently accommodates the Sac Republic FC matches at Papa Murphy's Park. We understand that there may be some attendees that potentially might ride RT to these matches; however, RT is not currently planning to implement additional service to any bus route at this time.

Laguna, CA:  In the comment boxes on the community survey, are there staff that actually read the comments or do you just run them through keyword search filters?

Reply:  We are reading all of the comments that are being made in the comment box on the community survey.

Sacramento , CA:  I am reporting simply that I have had an inconsistent bus pick up times. Some days its 5 minutes early others 10 mins late. This includes the bus pick up time from 7th and F street (BUS 7) every afternoon which is consistently 10-20 mins late. I don't understand as to why this form of ride pick up is accepted when we all pay a full amount. I rely on transit to get to and from work but it does not make it any easier when times pick up from both directions are almost never on time. Can you do something to remedy this problem?

Reply:  We will look into it for you, thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  I noticed on the refurbished UTDC cars have been running leas lately and I heard that you guys fixed the problem that was on the Gold Line that prevented the UTDCs from using the Gold Line.

Reply:  We are still working on getting all of the UTDC cars in service and operating in a reliable fashion. Refurbished cars are very different from new cars. Not all systems on the vehicle have been refurbished and we find issues requiring correction as the vehicles are operated in service. We are working through these types of problems and you should see more of these vehicles in service soon.

Folsom, CA:  It is so frustrating that you keep running trains 2 or 3 cars instead of 4 during the busy morning and evening commute hours. The trains with 2 or 3 cars are always packed wall to wall with people. I am barely able to move, let alone find a seat. Please consider increasing ridership capacity during these hours.

Reply:  We are working to correct this problem. We know that 3 car trains are a problem during commute times and will continue to try and improve vehicle availability.

Sacramento, CA:  Thank you and your fantastic staff for their service. I really appreciate it. Will there be plans to renovate existing stations like Watt I80? And will there soon be a bus and driver expansion?

Reply:  We will be doing some minor refurbishment of some of our oldest stations over the next few months. Any expansion in service really depends on a major new source of money to fund the increased operating costs associated with expanded service.

Folsom, CA:  How is the maintenance of rail cars going to date? Are you sooner, rather than later, able to make commute hour trains as long as they used to be, prior to the recent maintenance issues coming about to begin with?

Reply:  We have really struggled to resolve this problem. Our most significant single issue is the obsolescence and availability of parts for both our Siemens and CAF fleets. We continue to work diligently to resolve this problem, but it remains a real struggle for us.

Sacramento , CA:  I was riding my bicycle in the bike lane on K street between 11th street and 10th street downtown (going toward 10th street). A light rail train approached behind me and the driver honked at me to get out of the way. Are bicyclists really required to move out of bike lanes to accommodate approaching light rail trains? If so, please tell where the bicyclist is supposed to go to make way for the train.

Reply:  Bicyclists are not required to move out of a bike lane to accommodate an approaching train and we do not have situations where trains are operating in bike lanes. Often times, our train operators are concerned over the what can be unexpected moves by obsolescence near trains. This can create real safety concerns for us and has lead to tragic consequences. The operator may have honked at you more out of a concern for your safety rather then trying to get you out of the way.

Folsom, CA:  Do the drivers of the LR ever receive customer service training? As an example, there were only two cars instead of four at rush hour in the morning. Everyone pack in two cars. I get off at Sunrise to wait for the next car as it was too crowded for me. After I am off, a third car is being connected. The driver never tells the customer in the two packed cars that a third one is being connected and they could go on it if they want. So the two cars stay packed and only me and a couple of other customers go on the third car. This is one of many examples of the LR driver not communicating with the customers.

Reply:  All of RT''s operators receive customer service training and our train operators should be, and are instructed to, communicate with passenger when there is a problem. Sometimes, during the stress of a particular situation, they may forget to do this. From time to time, there are also issues with the PA system that can cause announcements not to be heard throughout the train.

Folsom, CA:  For LR, the key segment must be the weekly commuters who live in suburbs like Folsom and work in downtown Sacrament. The “rush hour” for those 8-5 workers who go into the city in the morning and return in the evening. The Gold Line has the LR to Sunrise and the LR to Folsom. Sunrise gets the best services as it has it’s LR and the Folsom LR, so trains are going through there every 15 minutes. Folsom is farther, has just the on LR so service there is every half hour. A problem, that has gotten worse, is during rush hour the Folsom LR is reduced from four cars to three or less. This past Monday, it was only two cars at 7AM! This problem seems to be about 30% of the time and has gone on over the last three years or more! This results with the cars being packed with customers, no room later for people with bikes, no room for other people who have to wait for the next train and generally your key customers mad about the poor service. Why can’t Folsom LR be top priority to always have four cars during rush hour? If cars need to be pulled, for whatever reason, pull them from the Sunrise LR. Again, the Sunrise LR has both it and the Folsom LR running through it with service every 15 minutes. Is there any hope for this? Isn’t it common sense?

Reply:  We know that this is still a problem and are working diligently to improve vehicle availability so that we can operate more 4 car trains during peak service times. This is a system wide problem for us, it is just not a problem for Gold line riders but Blue line riders as well.

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