Transit Talk with the General Manager

April 06, 2018
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

Welcome to the April 2018 Edition of Transit Talk with the GM!

SacRT has exciting news for April starting with SmaRT Ride, our new transit on-demand microtransit service, which currently operates in the City of Citrus Heights. Thanks to its tremendous success, the SmaRT Ride service will be expanded into Orangevale and Antelope with a connection to the Historic Folsom light rail station. Better yet, we also plan to serve a portion of Fair Oaks and expand the service hours to operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., three hours longer than the current hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Convenience and affordability are key benefits of SmaRT Ride. A single ride is just $2.75 or $1.35 for seniors, students and individuals with disabilities. All SacRT fare media is accepted. SmaRT Ride is also 100% accessible to the ADA community and all SmaRT Ride shuttle buses are equipped with wheelchair lifts and securements.

I am pleased that this innovative service is proving to be a success and we hope to expand it into more areas of Sacramento County in the near future.

Visit for details and a map of the expanded service area.

Another excellent project to update you about is SacRT Forward, which is in the early stages of a 15-month long process to redesign SacRT's transit system with an objective to improve mobility, connectivity and ridership. The first stakeholder meeting was held this week to gather input from the community on preferred design elements. A series of workshops will be held at the end of April and during May to gather input from the public.

The SacRT Forward plan will rethink the purpose and design of SacRT's entire transit network, including a "blank slate" look at how to position transit competitively in today's diverse communities. The ultimate goal is to provide service to destinations where people want to go.

For more information about the project or to sign up for email updates, visit, or send an email to

SacRT is also looking for community input as part of an effort to design the new Dos Rios Station planned for North 12th Street in the City of Sacramento and served by the Blue Line.

On Tuesday, April 10, from 3 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. with an optional site tour at 2 p.m., SacRT will host a design charrette, which is an intense and fun brainstorming session to help define key interests and viewpoints, discuss stations design concepts and move toward a direction that represents the stakeholder's consensus.

To participate in the site tour, meet at the corner of North 12th Street and Sproule Avenue. The Charrette will take place at the Smythe Academy Auditorium. For additional information about the charrette and project, and to sign up for updates, visit

With the Kings season coming to a close, SacRT is thanking fans with a Free Ride Day on Wednesday, April 11. Kings fans attending the final home game can ride free on SacRT buses and light rail trains with a printed or electronic game ticket. Have your valid ticket ready to show transit agents when riding light rail, or the operator when boarding buses.

Other great news I want to share with you is that SacRT's mobile fare app, ZipPass, is now more convenient than ever. ZipPass has been expanded to include all SacRT basic and discount monthly and semi-monthly passes, including the new $20 Student Monthly Pass. ZipPass can be downloaded for free on your smartphone through the App Store or Google Play. For more information,

Now let's get to your questions.

Sacramento, CA:  I have a few comments about the Green Line: (1) These past months should have been a wake up call for RT, Golden 1 events Streets are blocked or closed to redirect traffic causing delays, downtown events especially markets in front of capital causing lengthy delays, protestors causing stoppage and delays, etc. On 9th and J between 9th and L is major construction with only one lane open blocking bus stop so buses have to stop on L street and go around in a square to L and 9th bus stop through traffic. On top of increasing congestive traffic to get on I-5 to get off J street ramp now each morning and vice versa getting off L to get on I-5 in afternoon. Redo your Natomas bus routes (11,13,15,86,88 others) to instead of going downtown get off on Richards and stop at Green Line Light Rail. You can probably add an extra run each way each for buses with time saved and probably add extra run each way ever hour on green line. It’s only going to get worse, and one way to avoid it is to bi-pass it.

Reply:  Thank you for your comments, you cover a number of issues and concerns. Both our bus and light rail services use the street system in the downtown area . Because of this are service is vulnerable to the types of disruptions that you refer to in your comment. For planned disruptions like community events or construction, we work with the City to minimize the impact on our transit system. For the more spontaneous events like the recent protests, we really do not have a lot of options. We do work closely with the Police Department and our Security Operations Center to manage our system the best we can. With respect to changing bus service, we have started our complete review of all of our bus services which we are calling SacRT Forward. I would encourage you to go to our website for information on how you can participate.

Sacramento, CA:  (2) Any plans to add another Light Rail station on 7th between Richards and downtown? Possibly to add parking. The future of Sacramento next 20 years at least is the Railyards so maybe divert green line to go into Railyards and back out to 7th? The potential for ridership just in that area is extreme. The biggest reason a lot more ridership on Green line is no place to park and ride and people get off on Richards and limited bus service (I think only one bus).

Reply:  There is a plan for a station on 7th near Rail Yards Blvd. The station would serve the railyards and the site of the proposed soccer stadium. There is not a plan for parking at this location. The first park and ride facility would be north of the river in Natomas.

Sacramento, CA:  (3) Probably to late but I’ll say it anyway. Why didn’t RT suggest having Green Line go straight down Richards Blvd. turn into Discovery Park, widen that bridge for Light rail access and go through park up to Garden Highway turn and then go down Truxel. It would be done twice as quick and easily a quarter of the costs.

Reply:  A number of options were evaluated before selecting the current proposed route. The route that you suggest would likely require the complete reconstruction of the existing bridge, I do not believe that it was designed to handle the weight of the track and vehicles that would be placed on it. We are also concerned about the time it takes to get from Downtown to the airport. We tried to select the most direct route possible. We are continuing to refine the alignment including the number of stations to improve travel time overall.

Sacramento, CA:  I’m sure you hear this a lot, but here’s my pet RT peeve. Obviously Light Rail runs on schedule it has to try to keep and has unexpected delays. Buses on the other hand don’t as they may have longer at a stop due to handicapped person or more passengers getting on or off, and several stops no one there to make up time. So when a Light Rail train is like 5 minutes late due to delays, why are these buses leaving light rail station before the train gets there??? I asked a bus driver this and he said that is his scheduled departure time, then after 10 or so stops he stays at a bus stop for up to 10 minutes per stopover adjustment schedule he said. If a Light Rail is 5-10 minutes late why can’t buses wait for them and then instead of a 5-10 minute layover at some designated stop just stop and go like normal? No Light Rail passenger who has to connect to a bus enjoys just missing their bus and having to wait another 30-60 minutes for the next one.

Reply:  My response varies a bit based upon which specific routes and connections we are talking about, but in general terms a number of our bus routes have other connections that are made along their route. Sometimes these are other connections to light rail and sometimes they are connections with other bus routes. Holding for an extended period to accommodate a late train has a cascading affect on the entire bus route including other connections. Having experienced it my self, I certainly understand the frustration that comes with just missing your bus connection. We will hold buses for short delays or to accommodate bus to bus transfers at specific stops. We just can not hold for an extended period without causing a problem for other connections on the system overall.

Sacramento, CA:  Last month I attended a meeting in which several folks heard that after 21+ years of no service by the Sacramento Regional Transit District to Sacramento International Airport, that it will soon be happening with service slated to operate every fifteen minutes. In the meeting room, we all placed our hands on our cheeks and were blown away by the breaking news. At the end of the meeting, upon getting further clarification as to why this is now happening, and was not previously considered, we were told that this is all part of an agreement put in place that Sacramento Regional Transit District will be doing this because the District agreed to such service upon receiving the first of many all electric buses entering the fleet at the 29th & N Street Yard. First of all, is this true, or were we told something that turns out to be #FakeNews instead? I feel that “Transit Talk” is the best forum to get clarification on something as major as this simply because it has not been made public in traditional forms of media, let alone social media. I for one need clarification on the breaking news that was made breaking at a meeting in which several folks, myself included, attended back during the last week of March. What do you know exactly about the topic I am bringing up here, and if such service is starting, when will it start, and what will the route alignment be like? Will the route operate weekdays only, or everyday of the week? Thank you for looking into this.

Reply:  Thank you for your question. The airport passenger trips reached an all time high last year and SacRT has a desire to serve this growing demand for riders. In regards, to the 15 minute service you mention, that is dependent on SacRT receiving a grant award. We have partnered with Yolo County Transit District and requested the funds to implement this service when we responded to a Request for Proposals from Electrify America last month. We should hear back as to the status of our application in the coming months. If we are awarded funding, service could begin as soon as we are able to procure electric busses to provide the service, approximately a 18 month lead time. There is possibility we could begin the service with CNG in the meantime.

Sacramento , CA:  Good Afternoon, With ridership building on the 65 due to the Delta Shores extension would we possibly see weekend service soon on the 65 or 30 min service if not able to add weekends?

Reply:  We'll certainly be taking a look at that in SacRT Forward, which is what we're calling our route optimization project now. Please check out our project web site and sign up for our mailing list to stay in the loop on the project: SacRT Forward

Sacramento, CA:  About the Green Line. What is the ridership per day? Is there enough to justify the considerable expense of this line?

Reply:  The ridership on the Green Line is somewhere between 300-400 riders per day. We have evaluated stopping service but there is a cost in maintaining the infrastructure that would continue even if we stopped train service. We are also beginning to see increased development in the River District that will likely improve ridership. To mitigate the cost of service we do operate on a reduced frequency, a shorter span of service compared to our other 2 light rail lines and we currently do not offer weekend service.

Sacramento, CA:  Can you please define the "success" that is Smart Ride with a few more details? Your opening remarks are lacking in this regard, leaving us wondering if it's really true.

Reply:  It s true! SmaRT Ride debuted in Citrus Heights this past February and since then we've seen the number of passengers transported per hour increased significantly, from the former City Ride service. We have received requests for later service and expanded service areas. Due to this we are acquiring additional vehicles in order to serve Orangevale and Antelope starting April 23. The hours of operation will also change to 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. We hope to continue to expand this innovative on-demand transit service to other areas within Sacramento in the near future.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  I am looking at my copy of the next stop news that I picked up on Route 28 and it says that SmarT Ride will continue to operate between 7 am and 7 pm later this month, but the opening remarks state 6 am to 9 pm. Seems like a simple thing, communication. SacRT should try it sometime.

Reply:  The SmaRT Ride hours of operation noted in the opening remarks are correct. The decision to expand the service hours was made after the paper copy of the April Next Stop News was sent to the printer. The hours of operation are also correct in the online version of the Next Stop News because, of course, online changes can be made immediately.

Sacramento, CA:  Why do the ticket machines at 7th and capital station never get fixed? Was broke for several weeks (the connect one)

Reply:  We are currently in the process of replacing the ticket machine and Connect tap device at the 7th and Cap station. The foundation at the station was damaged from the incident at the station and had to be repaired before the new ticket machine or tap device can be installed. Weather permitting the new ticket machine should be installed soon.

Sacramento, CA:  We would like to see (as everyday commuters) RT people on the train more, seriously never been checked for ticket from Folsom to midtown at least for weeks

Reply:  Thank you for this information. Transit Agents and Transit Officers should be checking connect cards for all riders. I will follow up with my Chief of Police to ensure that she reinforces this practice.

Sacramento, CA:  Can you please tell me why as a monthy pass subscriber it is necessary to tap the connect card everytime before boarding?

Reply:  When your Connect Card is tapped it activates the chip inside the card. Doing this prior to boarding simplifies the fare inspection process for both the rider and the transit agent. Tap devices are located at the base of every wheel chair ramp as well as other high traffic locations in and around the stations to ensure that finding a device is quick and easy for the rider.

Sacramento, CA:  I’ve never understood why RT doesn’t contract with especially non profits to provide shuttle service from light rail to their businesses. Kaiser is going in on J Street and I am sure they’d pay for shuttle service from like K or L street to and from their facility, Crocker Art Museum, Old Sacramento when they have events, etc. would gladly pay for increased customer access to their facilities. Sundays there’s a big Farmers Market downtown, offer shuttle to and from their.

Reply:  We do provide provide extra service and contract for extra service for a number of events in our service area The North Natomas Flyer (Routes 170-173) and the Rancho CordoVan (Routes 175-177) are both contract routes we operate. We also provide extra service for specific events like events at the Golden One Center, Museum day, and several 4th of July events to name a few. In addition to extra service, we also provide fare discounts to certain events to promote the use of our regular service.

Sacramento, CA:  Are people stealing the connect card reader? Power Inn Road is missing two of them by the sunrise/folsom bound train stations. Or do they malfunction and have to be removed and repaired?

Reply:  The devices are removed and plated in cases where the connect card reader was vandalized or has been sent in for repair.

Laguna, CA:  I have a suggestion for the SacRT website and Transit Chat. On the week that there will be a transit chat, can you start running the transit chat banner? Then on the Friday that there will be a transit chat, move the banner up and make it more prominent on the webpage until the chat has ended?

Reply:  Those are terrific suggestions. We actually put the Transit Talk closer to the top of our website today to make sure our passengers were aware of the upcoming event. We also just had an alert banner created for our website to inform passengers of our more significant service disruptions, such as bus bridges that are implemented on light rail. It's a new feature so we will likely roll it out just for emergencies at the start, but down the line we may find it is a good tool to highlight Transit Talk. Thank you for the suggestion.

Sacramento, CA:  What is the status of the Riverfront Streetcar?

Reply:  SacRT is in a contract capacity supporting the Riverfront Streetcar project. The owners of the project are the Cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento. The project is progressing. The remainder of the Federal financial contribution to the project was just included in the recent approval of the Federal budget. This means that the majority of the capital funding required to construct the project is now in place. SacRT, in supporting the project, is working on the design and preparing to bid the construction contract later this year. The vehicle procurement is also well underway. The project team continues to work with our Federal partners on all of the actions required to receive final Federal approval and release of the Federal funding budgeted for the project to complete it.

Elk Grove, CA:  What would happen to Smart Ride if SacRT Forward were to suggest that demand response shuttles are not in the best interest of SacRT to operate?

Reply:  We believe that microtransit solutions have a place in the variety of services that SacRT operates, particularly in those suburban areas where fixed route bus service isn't working well, and absent a service like Smart Ride, those communities would not have a public transit option. That being said, this is a very new service for us and we are testing the bounds of where it will work well and were it may not. You will likely see a number of other "Smart Ride" services starting in the coming months as we test microtransit as an exciting new option. Specific to your question, if we find that microtransit doesn't work in a certain area or if SacRT Forward identifies a better way of serving an area we would likely discontinue the microtransit service for another option.

Sacramento, CA:  Whenever I ride on the bus and/or light rail, the temperature is always cold. Could the heater be on when its cold outside?

Reply:  We do have heaters on both our buses and light rail vehicles. It is really difficult to maintain a temperature that makes everyone comfortable. Between having it too hot and too cold, we find it better to err on the cold side. It is easier for riders to dress for a colder ride rather then it being too hot.

Closing Remarks:

Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will be held on Friday, May 4, 2018.