Transit Talk with the General Manager

September 01, 2017
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
At SacRT, clean, safe and convenient transit is our top priority. To start September's GM Chat, I would like to tell you how SacRT is making your trips more convenient by offering new customer-friendly travel tools. I would also like to remind you of some existing customer conveniences that SacRT has in place.

Perhaps the most significant news we have to share is that starting today we have a new mobile fare app. SacRT's new ZipPass is now available for download from the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android). ZipPass has all of the functionality of the RideSacRT app.

To allow a window of time for you to transition to the new app, fare purchased through the pilot RideSacRT mobile app can be used through Sunday, October 15, 2017.
After this date, RideSacRT will officially be discontinued, so I encourage you to use any pre-purchased tickets and passes prior to mid-October. If not, the remaining fare balance will be refunded to your original method of payment. Purchased fare cannot be transferred from RideSacRT to the new ZipPass.

We are also excited to tell you more about the new Connect Card. The regional smart card fare payment system that lets you purchase all of your tickets and passes online. I highly recommend using the new Connect Card, and for a limited time, you can get one at no cost from SacRT's Customer Service and Sales Center at 1225 R Street (adjacent to the 13th Street light rail station). The card can also be obtained online by visiting, or at select Raley's and Bel Air outlets. Check the website for a listing of participating retail outlets.

If you do have a Connect Card, thank you for getting one and we hope you are enjoying the benefits. Customers can register their card online, which allows for easy reloading and replacement in case of loss or theft. The Connect Card can be used on nine regional transit services and there is a free 90-minute transfer on SacRT vehicles with a single ride ticket. As a reminder, Connect Card users must tap their card on the reader when boarding the bus, and tap the card reader, located on the station platform, before boarding light rail.

Another product that is quite popular among our patrons is Alert SacRT, our mobile safety and security app that offers passengers a quick and discreet method for reporting safety and security concerns directly to SacRT Police Services. App users can send photos, six second videos and text messages to report suspicious activities. Users can download the free mobile safety and security app from the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android). Alert SacRT also provides customers with rider alerts during major light rail service disruptions. For those without a smart phone, simply text your safety or security concerns to 916-318-3330.

Bus riders should also try the SacRT Tracker. With this tool, customers can obtain real-time bus location and arrival information with a simple click of the button. Visit to create an account and personalize your route alerts.

While on the go, riders can use SacRT's mobile web app on your smart phone or tablet by going to Simply add a link to your home screen when prompted. Passengers can easily access real-time bus information by route or bus stop number. For your convenience, the mobile web app also provides trip planning, service alerts and scheduled light rail arrival times.

For more information on all these customer conveniences, visit

Now, let's get to your questions.

Sacramento, CA:  Hello Mr. Li, Lately, I've been riding and seeing three-car trains over ninety percent of the time. With 8 Gold line and 9 Blue line trains running, that amounts to 51 cars. I'm not only observing the trains I ride, of course, but all those I pass going the opposite direction, and all those from both lines going both directions while I'm waiting at Archives Plaza in the afternoon. Four-car trains are very rare, but even if we allow as much as 10%, that makes 56 cars in service out of 76 Siemens and CAF cars purchased. I know that 26 of the Siemens cars are at theoretical end of life, but I still see many of them used every day. Could you please give me an update on RT's progress toward achieving an acceptable service level? You had told me in May that only four of the refurbished UTDC cars were in service. I recently saw six of them on the tracks, so it seems some progress is being made on that front. The overcrowding is already severe, and the start of Sac State's school year always means a significant uptick in riders, so I am concerned about. I appreciate and informative responses. Thank you for that.

Reply:  We understand your frustration, unfortunately half our fleet has reached the end of its useful life, and this causes unforeseen reliability issues. Repair time also takes longer because of parts obsolescence. We need 40 new rail cars to significantly improve our service levels, and meeting this need is going to require increased local funding. Our team is dedicated to providing excellent customer service, but our resources are limited for the time being. Our hope it to increase the community's support of transit by earning their trust through our commitment to excellence.

Sacramento, CA:  Why don't your bus schedules list bus arrivals for all stations? Also, why aren't there more buses connecting communities on the north side of the river to the lightrail stations on the south side of the river?

Reply:  For our printed schedules, there are simply too many bus stops for every single one to be listed on a timetable. For this reason, we use certain stations as time points, so customers can estimate the bus arrival time at their stop. This is pretty common in most cities. However, we do have real-time bus arrival information for every bus stop both online and on your mobile device. From your desktop, you can access RT Tracker You can also subscribe for alerts to be emailed or texted to you. Additionally on our mobile web page,, you can check real-time bus arrival information by typing in your bus stop number. Hope this helps?

Sacramento , CA:  What and why is it taking so long to get the elevators at watt and I-80 fixed?

Reply:  We are please to report the elevator is operational as of last week! We apologize for the length of time it took to repair the elevator. Unfortunetly, the elevator is 30-years old and parts obsolescence is a problem. The parts must be custom made and this takes time. We are currently evaluating a new station design that could elimnate the need for elevators in the future.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  When will the SacRTD transition from offering "scheduled" time information over to "real" time information for rail? I am well aware that this exists for bus, and has been on the bus side for quite some time now. Seems like we are in the dark ages when it comes to this topic regarding rail. Thank you.

Reply:  We are actually quite close to having real-time location information on our light rail system. We are currently installing GPS equipment on all our vehicles and should have real-time location information available to passengers in the first quarter of 2018.

Sacramento, CA:  Can I use my Connect Card to pay the senior discount rate? When I tap, it charges me the full fare $2.75.

Reply:  Discounted Connect Card will automatically sell discounted fares and eligible participants can pick up these cards at our 1225 R Street Customer Service location. However, if you have a standard Connect Card you can ask the bus operator for a discounted rate and show appropriate identification prior to tapping on. At light rail stations standard cards can access discounted fares by pressing the change passenger type button.

Sacramento (Midtown), CA:  I'm wondering if there is an update on the timeline for the release of the real-time light rail arrival technology?

Reply:  We are actually quite close to having real-time location information on our light rail system. We are currently installing GPS equipment on all our vehicles and should have real-time location information available to passengers in the first quarter of 2018.

Sacramento, CA:  Looking through the new ZipPass app, I noticed that RT chose to use the standard site for redirects for schedules rather than the optimized mobile site. Considering that the mobile site has more immediate uses in conjunction with the app (with real-time tracking being a major one) versus the standard site, why was that choice made?

Reply:  Thank you for the suggestion. That is a good idea, and we will likely be implementing that change to the app very soon. We appreciate the input!

Natomas, CA:  Are you aware of the perception that RT is unsafe because of the large number of homeless riders? Will RT work with other Sacto agencies to end homelessness in order to clean up our public spaces including public transit?

Reply:  Homelessness is no doubt a large topic of discussion for all of Sacramento, not just SacRT. If a rider has paid their fare and is complying with the rules, they are allowed to ride. However, fare inspection staff has been increased exponentially to remove riders who have not paid their fare. We have a full-time Sacramento Sheriff's Department deputy who is specifically assigned to homeless outreach. We also have a full-time Homesless Navigator from Sac Steps Forward who works alongside our deputy. Together, they handle any issues related to homelessness. They are very proactive about reaching out to homeless riders and offerring them opportunities to access public services.

Sacramento, CA:  First a comment/kudos - the advertising wraps on the light rail cars look great! Your marketing team is doing a really good job with providing bold wraps with simple graphics (there is one that is too busy though, promoting RT). What can/is RT doing to encourage car-free living in Sacramento? particularly downtown, since this is a direction the city wants to go in.

Reply:  Thank you, we are glad to hear that you like the wraps on the light rail cars. SacRT is in the early stages of a campaign to encourage more ridership by showing the public all of the destinations they can reach without a car. More to come soon on this! Thanks for your interest.

Sacramento, CA:  Although there is the RT Alerts app, I am concerned with the lack of security guards at non-hub light rail stations (College Greens and Zinfandel are stations that come to mind on the Gold Line.) I feel unsafe at such stations not knowing there is lack of a presence of security. Is there anything going to be done regarding this?

Reply:  Please know that even if there is no security guard physically present at the station, each station is being monitored 24/7 by SacRT Police Services from our state of the art Security Operations Center. Our stations are very well equipped with cameras. This summer we also installed PA systems at 30 out of 52 stations, and it will be expanded to all of them by the end of the year.

Natomas, CA:  After the loss of the proposed bond measure last November, due in no small part to Natomas residents opposing the proposed route, what are RT's future plans for serving SMF?

Reply:  The Green Line remains our plan to serve the airport; however, the failure of Measure B (by less than 1 percent of the vote) last fall does mean that the project continues to be unfunded, both locally and federally. We get a lot of questions about bus service to the airport, and the answer has historically been that while we continue to have major gaps in our regular transit service, we won't be prioritizing additional airport bus service, when there is already a Yolobus route going there from downtown Sacramento. The addition of the Amazon warehouse in Metro Air Park and the prospect of new development in Greenbriar just around the corner may change this equation somewhat. This is something we'll be looking into in our Route Optimization project which will be getting under way in earnest later this fall.

Sacramento, CA:  Please consider putting a Bus Stop on the Southbound direction for Line 62 at the 4th Street Station. The stops at 2nd Ave and 7th Ave are far away. On the northbound direction there are stops at Weller Way, the Light Rail Station, 3rd Avenue, Markham, and Sloat. Ideally a stop just north of the railroad tracks is convenient since the busses have to stop before the rail crossing anyway.

Reply:  Our space for bus stops on southbound Freeport near 4th Ave is very limited due to driveways and other design aspects with the street and sidewalk that may conflict with the ADA or may create visual obstructions that impact safety. This is especially problematic across from the light rail station. We looked at the area north of the railroad tracks recently, and unfortunately, that site is also not adequate for a bus stop as well.

Sacramento, CA:  I think it is safe to say that riders are somewhat skeptical as far as RT's spending priorities. It took far too long to get more security personnel hired and checking fares. This issue with not having enough functional light rail cars in the afternoon commute is ongoing with seemingly no relief in sight. What is RT doing to avoid future issues related to not building up reserves and investing in new equipment and resources BEFORE the end of it's useful life, rather than waiting until the end to try to find a solution?

Reply:  The financial crisis was trying for many public agencies that experienced funding cuts from Federal, State and Local allocations. SacRT's reserves were used to get us through this hard time. Over the past couple of years, SacRT has been working relentlessly to build a robust reserve, which has currently grown to approximately $6 million. Light Rail vehicles are extremely expensive, costing hundreds of millions of dollars to replace the fleet. This will require Federal, State and local funding. SacRT is currently working to keep building it's reserves, and acquire government funding to replace aging vehicles.

Sacramento, CA:  Are there plans to add more sales outlets for the Connect Card? Our agency issues vouchers with riders located all over the city. Currently, there are only a few Raleys and Belairs listed.

Reply:  We are actively in the process of transitioning all of our sales outlets from paper fare media to Connect Card. Feel free to contact our Customer Advocacy Department at 916-557-4545 in regards to the transition timeline for your specific agency.

Elk Grove, CA:  Blue Line - Contingency plans when the trains are non-operational do not meet the needs of your riders/customers. What is RT doing to improve communication between their riders, bus & train drivers, and security staff on site? Train was stopped at Meadowview, Aug. 3, 2017 - this incident was poorly handled and caused a 2 hour delay for riders

Reply:  We are currently working on an improved communications protocol to better respond in the event of service disruptions on our light rail system. New digital signage, real-time bus location information and a live public address system are three new tools we are currently working to implement. The difficulty is that each scenario is different, and it is not always easy to apply a standard protocol to a developing situation. Please note, our intent is to improve current communication efforts, so you should see improvements in the months ahead.

Hayward, CA:  Great job on the new gates! Since my last visit I had the chance to see them and the installation is very professional. Eventually, I'd like to see a system where you have fareboxes upstairs and in order to access downstairs, you have to have a ticket that you tap to open a fare gate. Any plans to consider that?

Reply:  We are glad that you are liking the new gates! We are currently considering a range of options to continue to improve the Watt/I-80 Station, including a redesign of the station. Thank you for your suggestion.

Sacramento, CA:  When does bus service to the "Delta Shores" Shopping Center expected to begin by? As a reference point, "Delta Shores" is located along the Western edges of Cosumnes River Boulevard - close to Interstate Five.

Reply:  We worked with the developer to make sure the streets and sidewalks can handle future bus service; however, at this time, we do not have funding for exxpanding bus service. One of the things our Route Optimization Study will look at is where we provide service and how much, including to new areas.

Folsom, CA:  When will the Gold Line riders be able to experience those newer/longer cars that now only travel on the Blue Line? It would be nice to have newer cars out to Folsom once in a while.

Reply:  These newer UTDC cars are currently in final testing phases. They are operating only on the Blue Line since SacRT's light rail yard is located along this line. As the trains are tested on the Blue Line, it is much easier to get them back to the light rail yard for any needed tweaks. However, the Gold Line stations have received all the needed modifications to be able to accommodate these cars in the future.

Sacramento, CA:  Is it possible to make it part of light-rail fare-checkers' jobs to encourage courteous behavior by riders? Because RT uses bench seats (instead of two individual seats) on light-rail cars, many riders seem to think it's o.k. to take up the entire bench - half for themselves and half for their belongings. I'm not talking about people who need more room because of their size, but about people who seem to think their belongings are more deserving of a seat than their fellow passengers. Thanks!

Reply:  It is part of the transit agents' job to encourage proper behavior, although they juggle those duties with other duties such as enforcing the fare. The transit agent job description does not include removing paying customers from the train for feet on the seats or similar breaches of courteous behavior, however, our sworn police and sheriff's deputies can and will remove people for these types of offenses.

South Sacramento , CA:  Do you have any idea of when the Route Optimization Study would begin?

Reply:  We recently closed the bidding period for consulting services to assist with the project. We'll be reviewing proposals and selecting a vendor this month, with award coming next month. You should be seeing our efforts ramp up in the next couple months, beginning with a lot of public engagement.

Sacramento , CA:  Mr. Li, when will be the first time we will be able to read the rough draft for the Route Optimization project? (fall or winter)

Reply:  We are currently selecting a consultant to assist with this project. It will be a major project, with a lot of different stakeholder input to consider and a great deal of public engagement. Look for our public engagement process to kick off later this year.

Sacramento, CA:  Two questions: #1: The train station at 7th and I Streets features a beautiful tree that partially blocks visibility of RT's electric sign announcing arriving trains. Could the tree be trimmed or the sign moved? #2: The electric signs announce arriving trains, but a train driver told me those are actually departure times, and that does seem to be true. Could the signs be corrected to say departing instead of arriving?

Reply:  1) The trees are actually under the City's jurisdiction. We will communicate this with their urban forestry department. Thank you for letting us know. 2) Thank you for your suggestion. Those times are the departure times, you are correct. By the first quarter of 2018, SacRT will have real-time train arrival information, and the signs will likely continue to give the arrival times on the trains. Our bus system also works off of "arrival times."

Sacramento, CA:  What is the status of the Green Line? Seems like basically a no-brainer to shut it down to save the money, especially given that routes 11 and 15 cover the same area with greater frequency. It's redundant. Wouldn't it be better to wait until the developers of Township 9 actually build instead of continuing to operate the Green Line with the expectation that the development will fall into place? It's been 5 years already.

Reply:  Green Line service to Township 9 is actually relatively inexpensive to operate. We serve approximately 100,000 passengers a year on this line. If we were to suspend the service, we would still have maintenance costs and other costs to keep the line and assets secure. At this time, SacRT plans to keep the line operating to residents and workers in this area.

Sacramento, CA:  Any thoughts on improving the air conditioning? Specifically I have not had a ride with adequate ventilation and AC on any of the 3## numbered cars.

Reply:  When temperatures get above 105 degrees, it can have a significant impact on SacRT's light rail system (electrical overhead wires, tracks and trains). We are very aware of these issues and apologize for the uncomfortable temperatures. We are working to repair the air conditioning systems as fast as possible. We face challenges because of parts obsolescence.

Sacramento, CA:  Recently I have been on several light rail cars where power and internal lights will flicker or shut of for a couple of seconds; like a brown out. Can you explain what might cause this and if its a risk to safety on the train.

Reply:  If the train was stopped while this occurred it could be the result of a train operator troubleshooting an issue. They sometimes have to do a battery on/off, which would turn off the interior lights. We are not aware of this occurring while the trains are in motion.

Laguna, CA:  Are you familiar with the supreme court ruling that changes the local bond passage requirements to a simple majority? Do you expect this would make a similar measure to Measure B easier to pass next year?

Reply:  Yes, we are familiar with this case. It is unclear how this could affect any sort of future transportation funding measure for Sacramento. We are closely following the issue.

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