Transit Talk with the General Manager

October 06, 2017
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

Welcome to the October GM Chat!

This month I'd like to introduce the Reimagining Watt/I-80 Project. In addition to the many steps SacRT has already taken to improve safety and security at this station, and system-wide, we are seeking your help to make additional safety and accessibility improvements at the Watt/I-80 Station. Working with the community-based organization WALKSacramento, SacRT is kicking off a several month-long planning project to reimagine the station's design so that is it more convenient for people traveling by foot, bike, or a mobility device. The plan will involve extensive outreach to SacRT riders, nearby businesses and community organizations. To learn more about the project and take the online survey visit

Please note that there will be an Unmet Transit Needs Hearing on Monday, October 23, in the SacRT auditorium starting at 2 p.m. Comments on all Sacramento County transit services will be accepted at this hearing including: e-tran, Folsom Stage Line, SacRT, and South County Transit/Link. SacRT's administrative office is accessible by light rail to the 29th Street Station, or bus routes 38, 67 and 68.

If you haven't already, remember to switch to SacRT's new mobile fare app, ZipPass, before the end of the month. Download ZipPass from the App Store for iPhone or Google Play for Android. The RideSacRT fare app will officially be discontinued at the end of service on Tuesday, October 31, 2017, so I encourage you to use pre-purchased tickets and passes on RideSacRT prior to this date. Purchased fare cannot be transferred from RideSacRT to ZipPass. Any remaining fare balance will be refunded to the original method of payment.

SacRT's Mobility Advisory Council (MAC) is seeking new members. The MAC advises SacRT on items that affect access for persons with disabilities and seniors, such as system accessibility features, customer information and service plans. The MAC also, acts as a communication link between SacRT and key stakeholders. Members are representatives of agencies and At-Large members of the public, which represent, or are persons with disabilities or seniors. If you or someone you know would be interested in participating on MAC, please attend one of the upcoming meetings held at 2:30 p.m. in the SacRT auditorium on Thursday, October 5, or Thursday, November 2. For additional information, call 916-557-4685 or visit

As always, I encourage all SacRT passengers to download the Alert SacRT app that allows riders to discreetly send texts, pictures and video directly to SacRT Police Services, to report safety and security concerns while riding the system. Working together, we can make the Watt/I-80 and all stations and stops, safe and attractive.

Now, let's get to your questions.

Sacramento, CA:  How long does Sac RT keep and or store video footage for the buses?

Reply:  Thank you for the question. Video files are very large, so we are only able to store them for about seven days.

Rancho cordova, CA:  What have you to plan for new light rail cars? If not, how much longer can you use current fleet to meet the demand?

Reply:  We are in need of 40 light rail vehicles to replace nearly half of our aging fleet, which is more than 30 years old. The cost to fully meet the current need is approximately $200 million. Unfortunately, voters rejected Measure B in November which would have provided partial funding to begin replacing aging cars. The measure failed by just 1.5% with 65.5% of voters approving the bond. As a result, we are working to improve our fleet through refurbishment efforts to extend the life of our trains until there is community support for local dedicated funding. We will continue to provide service as best we can with the limited resources available to us. We are actively engaging with the community to encourage support of public transportation and hope our education efforts will bare fruit in the near future.

Sacramento, CA:  Why does it take 2 days (48 hours) for an online payment to go through on the Connect Card to ride the bus, but only two hours for the online payment to go through to ride the train? Are there changes in the near future that will be made to change this? How can I make a complaint in regards to this serious inconvenience? Thank You

Reply:  The disclaimer given on the website is very conservative. The Connect Card system attempts to communicate once per hour with field devices, both bus and light rail. Light rail platform devices are connected 100% of the time via wifi and therefore receive this communication immediately every hour. Connect Card devices on the bus are not connected via wifi and communicate with the backend system when they return to the bus yard. This difference in connectivity is what causes the difference in disclaimer for each device type. As a general rule of thumb, purchases made online should be available within the hour on light rail and the following morning on the bus, but may be sooner if your bus returns to the bus yard mid day. Questions or issues that you have specific to the Connect Card can be directed to our Customer Advocacy dept at 916-321-2877 and choose the Connect Card option.

Sacramento, CA:  I would like to know what consulting service won the bid to work on the Route Optimization? What is the latest update?

Reply:  We are still reviewing proposals. We should have a decision next month.

Sacramento, CA:  Will you ever consider having these “talks” twice a month instead once a month?

Reply:  At this time, the GM chat will remain a monthly occurence, but please feel free to contact me directly any time if you have any questions or concerns at

Sacramento, CA:  There is a man that sits on the blue/black rt benches at the bus stop for route (11 and) 15 on Richards Blvd. He has purposely come to sit out on the benches at specific times in the afternoons. I believe his physical actions are purposely done to draw attention to himself. He sits at the bus stop proceeds to take his shirt off and put it inside of his bag on the bench. His mannerisms with his lower part of the body, I would consider tasteless. He extendeds his legs and feet out on the sidewalk making it difficult to walk past. These actions only take place when my son gets off of the bus. I have taken pictures of him as the bus arrives and leaves with him sitting at the bench to document that he is not a patron/rider? Can Sac RT regulate the benches if the benches are not being used for patrons? If so, I would like to know how I can make an official complaint (and submit pictures)? Thank you

Reply:  Thank you for the question. We have a Security Operations Center that is staffed 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. They can be reached two ways. You can call them at 916 556-0275. They dispatch police officers and sheriffs deputies assigned to Regional Transit Policing Services. You can also download the Application, Alert Sac RT. You can take a picture of the person and add a message. These messages go directly to the Security Operations Center. I will also assign a police officer to pay extra attention to this stop and the surrounding area.

North Highlands, CA:  Your website, I’ve noticed has an icon for changes at the Watt/I-80 Station. If possible, is the SacRTD governing board going to hear any information or take any action on any service changes focused at that station between now and the end of the calendar year, with changes being implemented by mid-2018?

Reply:  Back in May, SacRT rolled out an internal Adopt-a-Station program to help improve station appearance along the system's three light rail lines. Members of our executive management team are working together and collaborating with community partners to determine which security upgrades are most needed to improve our stations, such as lighting, cleanliness and landscaping. Many improvements have already taken place at the Watt/I-80 station such as the installation of 14 new security cameras in the station's stairwells, painting, vegetation removal and clean up, increased numbers of sworn officers and 24/7 surviellence. This month SacRT is kicking off a several month-long planning project to reimagine the station's design so that is it more convenient for people traveling by foot, bike, or a mobility device. The plan will involve extensive outreach to SacRT riders, nearby businesses and community organizations. The first public meeting is Tuesday, October 24 from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at the Arcade Library, 2443 Marconi Avenue. To learn more about the project and take the online survey visit

Sacramento, CA:  Do you have a social media manager? Who is responsible for posting updates on social media? Do you feel that social media is important to update, advertise and respond to the public in a timely fashion?

Reply:  SacRT uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as one method for communicating with customers. We post information about events, detours, and other SacRT news via these channels.

Sacramento, CA:  The 15 bus route from Arden LRT/Downtown runs late a good majority of the time. How come the bus driver can not call and ask a fellow bus driver of a different bus route-connecting stop to wait at the stop for possible riders?

Reply:  We actually do hold connecting buses when buses run late, but it's something we have to minimize. If we started holding buses every time someone requested it, pretty soon all the buses would be running even later. Whether or not to hold a bus is up to the radio controller. The situatons where they are most likely to hold a bus are when it is the last bus of the night or sometimes if the wait would be very long for an elderly or disabled person if they missed their connection. During the day, when it's not the last bus of the night, and especially if the connecting bus has a lot of passengers on it, we generally need to keep the buses moving and not let one delayed bus impact another whole bus full of passengers.

Sacramento, CA:  Hello Mr. Li, with the year almost at an end what exciting changes are we going to see with SacRT in 2018?

Reply:  2018 will bring many excited changes to SacRT such as the Route Optimization Study, more transit agents on trains, station upgrades and more advertising wraps on vehicles.

Natomas , CA:  For many months the North Natomas Shuttle for the Westside Route has had standing room only, to the point of barely having enough room for all those on board. Many passengers have contacted the North Natomas Transportation Management Office, but with no results. This is a potentially dangerous situation as we are packed in very tightly with no real secure way to hold on. I have often almost slipped and fell. Is there something RT can do to assist us with this unsafe and very uncomfortable situation?

Reply:  This is a service that we run under contract with the North Natomas TMA. Our contract term is nearing an end and the TMA has solicited a new proposals for service and SacRT has submitted a new proposal. I know that they are looking at several options to address crowding which will hopeful be implemented in a new service contract.

Sacramento , CA:  This Sunday there is a concert a G1Center and I do work there, is telling me light rail runs on a regular Sunday schedule to Sunrise. I cannot leave my job until this concert is near over. Why no extended service this day? It is imperative that I get to work on light rail from Power Inn station. Also there is no security at the Power Inn park and ride station as noted on website Could you please look into this situation for me and others that work at G1C.

Reply:  The decision to run extended service for Golden 1 Center is made based on the expected attendance for this event. This event was not expected to be a large enough crowd for transit service to operate after its normal hours.

Carmichael, CA:  First,will the i-Stop pilot program instituted years ago be expanded to additional stops?The WB Madison/Lincoln Oaks stop could use it as yesterday morning a westbound 25 well overshot me when I was already waiting on the curb.Second,I find Measure B's barely falling short(I voted yes)more disturbing in that the Bee learned that several thousand ballots left the question blank.Considering it was enough to swing the vote either way,could those abstaining voters(or even those opposing it outright)been better informed on the importance of mass transit?Without it,everyone loses big,even solo drivers with their own autos.Third,while it's nice to see the VTA refurbs back on the tracks,are some still unnumbered cars(still in the yard)the ones taking longer to repair and upgrade?

Reply:  The iStop program from years ago is not planned for expansion, but I will share your observation about the stop on Madison with our Facilities and Planning departments to see if we can add lighting or improve the visibility. I'm glad you voted YES for Measure B. As you've observed, we haven't been able to get all of our former VTA cars back on the road yet, partly because our mechanics have to spend a lot of time on our Siemens and CAF fleets as well. All three light rail fleets are getting quite old, and a local sales tax would definitely help replace them with newer, better, more reliable cars.

Sacramento, CA:  This morning on light rail I saw a woman sleeping, with her feet on the seat. As I waited to get off my stop I saw her feet on the floor of the aisle. It was apparent she was laying on the floor, so I sent a text alert. My question is, how can we know the difference between someone who is snoozing on the train/bus from someone who is at risk?

Reply:  Thank you for the question. I would suggest that you notify the train opeerator or bus driver who can call for medicl attention. Its always a good idea to ask the person if they are ok and see if they respond. A medical emergency is hard to discern from a person sleeping.

Sacramento, CA:  When will ticket checkers begin scanning our new Connect cards? I have a monthly pass and have to scan it every time I get on.

Reply:  Transit Agents should be checking your Connect Cards now.

Sacramento, CA:  We are in need of a bus route on Hogan drive South Sacramento 95822 ( formally 63 bus route). We have working, elderly, disabled and students that rely on public transportation. It is very difficult to get to the light rail or other busses from our area. Please consider giving us our route back and please let us know what we need to do to get it done. I thank you very much for your time.

Reply:  We'll be looking into this in our Route Optimization. One of the issues we'll have to grapple with is how much we want to focus on major corridors versus neighborhood service. We are currently reviewing proposals and interviewing potential consulting firms to assist us and we expect to select a firm and negotiate a contract over the next month.

Sacramento, CA:  Would it be possible for light-rail fare checkers to encourage riders to share the bench seats on light-rail trains by placing their purses/backpacks/briefcases on their laps or on the floor? I usually ride during commute hours when trains are full. Every day I see seated riders who use part or all of the other half of the bench seat to give their possessions a seat when there are passengers standing nearby. Some passengers prefer to stand, but I think many are reluctant to approach those riders to request that they share the seat, since the seated rider has already shown that they’re not exactly considerate of their fellow passengers. Thanks!

Reply:  I will certainly ask the Transit Agents to ask people to be considerate of other riders and to store their belongings elsewhere.

Sacramento, CA:  Can we have a free 90-minute transfer on SacRT vehicles with a single ride ticket for all riders, rather than just Connect Card holders?

Reply:  There are many reasons that SacRT chose to eliminate transfers on paper media years ago that still exist today and make the decision to reintroduce them difficult. These include but aren't limited to counterfeiting of transfer slips, hand offs or selling of transfer slips from one rider to another, operational issues with printing transfer slips and a significant and immediate fare revenue loss associated with offering free transfers on all fare media types. SacRT staff is dedicated to promoting a swift and painless transition to Connect Card and ZipPass (our new mobile app) for all riders who are interested. Both Connect Card and ZipPass are immediately available to all online immediately. Connect Cards can be picked up for free at SacRT's customer service center, participating Raley's and Bel-Air locations and other retailers in our service area. In addition to this, staff is distributing free Connect Cards to the public at events hosted by housing communities and other organizations throughout the community.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  Can you tell me how the Route Optimization Study is progressing?

Reply:  We're currently reviewing proposals and interviewing consulting firms to assist us with the project. We have some terrific proposals that I think will really complement our staff's skills and give us the extra resources we need to have a first class public engagement process with our riders, our partner agencies, etc. We're also in the process of trying to secure additional funds for the project to make sure we can afford a truly comprehensive process. We have an ambitious vision for this project and the transportation world is changing rapidly, so we want to make sure we thing big and don't under-size the project.

Sacramento, CA:  My question is. There was a pass for disabled adults. I qualified for this pass. But it no longer exists. Why? I am for the disabled pass that I did not have to pay for. I am disabled and low income with no financial help from family and friends. I now pay about 60 for a monthly pass. I could use that money for groceries. I have to go to loaves and fishes to eat once a day. But loaves and fishes is suppose to be for homeless people. I just don't get it. Please explain why the free pass for disabled persons does not exist anymore.

Reply:  There has been no free disabled adult pass that SacRT has offered that I am aware of. There are social service providers in our area, such as Alta California Regional Center that sponsor persons with disabilities and purchase public transportation for them. I would suggest that you reach out to these agencies and seek sponsorship from one of these groups.

CA:  How come so many of the new refurbished trains sit idle in the yard and why not use them on the folsom line also?

Reply:  We are still working on commissioning the refurbished trains. We have 21 in total with 9 vehicles currently in daily service. We are finding a number of problems that can only be discovered through normal operation. We are working through the problems as quickly as they surface and fully expect all of these vehicles to be in service over the next several months. We have also contracted with Siemens locally to help us address some of the commissioning problems that we are experiencing. We are currently operating them on the Blue Line only because the Blue Line passes next to our maintenance facility which is a benefit as we work through issues with these vehicles.

Laguna, CA:  You need to do whatever it takes to acquire new light rail vehicles ASAP. Two weeks ago, I was stranded on one of your trains for over half an hour. While that's not too bad, I can see that it could have been much worse and there will come a time when these failures do become worse if you don't get new vehicles (and I don't mean refurbished). If you don't, the RT will fall into a vicious cycle of falling ridership due to lack of confidence and escalating fare prices to cover the cost of the falling ridership. RT is heading for collapse at this rate.

Reply:  We fully agree.

Citrus Heights, CA:  While funding is perhaps the main issue, for now, could you provide and estimated process and timeline for procurement of new light rail vehicles?

Reply:  Funding remains the main issue. We are working with another transit system to add our vehicles as an option to their next vehicle procurement. This will speed up the acquisition of new vehicles when we have the funding to purchase them because we will not need to go through a procurement process. This will save 8 months to a year in the time it takes to select and contract with a new vehicle manufacturer. This is the same process that we have used on our two most recent bus procurements.

Sacramento, CA:  The clock at Township 9 train station displays the wrong time? is Sac Rt responsible for the clock at the station?

Reply:  I honestly don't know, I'll will look into it.

Sacramento, CA:  What is the proper dress code for RT bus drivers?

Reply:  The RT bus drivers have a specific uniform that is supplied by RT. If you ever feel that a bus driver is not in a proper uniform please report it to us by calling 321-BUSS.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  Hi! What can you tell me about the planned Horn Rd. Light Rail station (1.5 miles away from my home)?

Reply:  The Horn Road station was deferred in the construction of the Gold Line extension. It is an identified station and we do have an active project to build and open it to service. The project is not fully funded, the funding that we have for it will only take us through the environmental and preliminary engineering phases of the project. We have not secured the funding to construct it. The station is a priority for the City of Rancho Cordova and we are actively looking for funding opportunities. Until we have a funding source identified to construct it, I can not provide an estimate as to when it will be in service.

Fair Oaks, CA:  Thank you! A couple of months ago, I submitted a question and requested Transit Officers and Ticket Faire Officers aboard the 6am train from Folsom. And, since I submitted my question, they have been aboard, checking faires, and keeping things fairly peaceful and orderly. We really appreciate it. It makes our commute much better. My question this month: what steps have been taken to acquire new replacement train cars? Federal funds? Gas tax? Local Measures?

Reply:  Thank you for the question. Adding additional transit agents is a much simpler fix as I am sure you know. We have a $200 million need and our Federal funds are not likely to increase in the foreseeable future. Last November, voters narrowly rejected Measure B which would have provided badly needed local funding to purchase new rail cars. We are now working diligently to educate the community regarding the importance of supporting public transportation. We hope to revisit the dedicated funding issue after we have done a better job at educating the community. We are looking at other solutions as well. These include purchasing fewer vehicles, perhaps longer individual cars, or a phased replacement over time.

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will be held on Friday, November 3.