Transit Talk with the General Manager

August 03, 2018
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Welcome to the August 2018 Edition of Transit Talk with the GM!

Thanks to a $12 million grant from the Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA), SacRT launched its second SmaRT Ride on-demand microtransit shuttle service in the Franklin - South Sacramento area on July 30. Using a smartphone, passengers can schedule a trip within the service area and track the bus in real-time.

Nationwide, there are approximately a dozen of these programs, but SacRT has been recognized within the transit industry as a leader. The Franklin - South Sacramento SmaRT Ride is the second of approximately 12 Sacramento communities that are set to receive microtransit service in the months to come, and the first disadvantaged community to receive the service. SmaRT Ride is all about mobility and freedom to travel to work, shopping, medical appointments and other vital destinations, which can be a life changing experience for many.

At only $2.75 per trip, or $1.35 for discount eligible passengers, it is very economical. All SacRT fare media is accepted, including single ride tickets, daily and monthly passes, smart card, mobile fare app and cash. The low-cost makes SacRT's SmaRT Ride more affordable than traditional ride-hailing services, which could cost riders more than five times the amount for a similar trip. And best of all, there's no surge/peak pricing.

Plans to implement additional SmaRT Ride service areas have generated a need for additional shuttle buses, which is why SacRT is moving forward with bus procurement efforts. Thanks to an investment from Electrify America, which awarded three zero emission buses to the Franklin Boulevard Business District for the SmaRT Ride service. In all, Electrify America is investing $44 million in the Sacramento Green City zero emissions initiative, which includes the electric shuttles for the Franklin - South Sacramento zone.

We believe that SmaRT Ride Franklin - South Sacramento will quickly grow in popularity as it has in Citrus Heights, Antelope and Orangevale. For more information about SmaRT Ride, visit for details.

I'd like to remind everyone that service to Folsom now operates into the late night. The Gold Line provides 30-minute service to the Historic Folsom Station with the last train departing Folsom at 11:30 p.m. and arriving downtown Sacramento after midnight. This new service significantly improves mobility for the region, allowing convenient transportation for shopping, dining, and entertainment. It also provides a new commute option for individuals who work a non-traditional schedule. I am happy to report that we've seen an increase in ridership on the Gold Line since the late night service started.

Great news for students (grades k through 12) and parents! SacRT is continuing the $20 reduced rate for a student monthly pass. With the start of school just around the corner, now is the time to purchase your pass. The pass is not just for school, students can enjoy unlimited rides on SacRT buses and light rail to go to the mall, movies, parks, or where ever they want to travel. To purchase a Student Monthly Pass, download ZipPass, SacRT's free mobile fare app, from the App Store or Google Play; or pick up a Connect Card from SacRT's Customer Service and Sales Center (adjacent to the 13th Street Station), Raley's/Bel Air markets or order one online at

For additional information on all of these topics and other news, please visit

Now let's get to your questions.

Natomas, CA:  I purchased a semi monthly student pass for my son on his Connect Card (for June 16, 2018) that he never used which can be verified through his transaction history. I would like to know am I able to transfer the unused funds/pass to be used for the month of August. Thank You

Reply:  Similar to traditional paper fare media at SacRT, Connect Card policy does not allow for refunds unfortunately. The Connect Card refund policy can be found on the website. If you have further questions about this you can speak with our customer service department at 916-321-2877.

Natomas, CA:  What steps have you or your staff have taken to improve the Connect Card online purchases to reflect the funds/online purchases immediately on the connect cards instead of the 48 hour limit (for bus use)? Thank

Reply:  The Connect Card program is a card based smart card program. While card based systems provide some benefits (faster transaction times, offline operability, etc) there are some drawbacks in regards to waiting times for online purchases. While the website does mention up to a 48 hour waiting period on the bus, this is a worst case scenario. Most of the time (95% or more) your fare purchased online will be available within 1 hour of purchase on light rail and next morning on the bus.

Sacramento, CA:  I want to express my appreciation for the fare checkers on board light rail. On the way to work today, it was the third morning in a row that I sat near a sleeping person spread out across a bench seat (or two), and when they didn't have valid fare, the checkers politely asked them to get off at the next stop. The fare checkers presence is very reassuring.

Reply:  Thank you so much for your positive feedback. I am also very pleased with the positive impact the fare inspection staff has made.

Natomas, CA:  Will Sacramento RT consider a partnership with Solano Express (commuter with Solano Transportation Authority) to utilize the Connect Card system? Thank You

Reply:  SacRT is part of a regional consortium of operators who use the Connect Card. Right now we are focused on wrapping up the final pieces of the project and ensuring the best possible product for our current riders. We will begin looking to add additional partners in the near future once this crucial step is completed.

Natomas, CA:  I would like to know if the Sac RT Smart ride shuttles operate on the weekend? Thank You

Reply:  At this time, they only operate Monday through Friday. This is a pilot project and we will be reassessing the service hours and boundaries and will adjust accordingly to meet demand.

Natomas, CA:  On your main page it states that customer service is available from 6:30-6:30. When did these new hours go into affect? Do these hours pertain to customer service available via the phone? How about the office open to the public on 13 & R Street.

Reply:  The 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. hours are the customer service phone hours. The Customer Service and Sales Center office is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

CARMICHAEL, CA:  Riding the Gold Line last week,I observed quite a bit of road construction in the Folsom Boulevard/Horn Road vicinity.Is any of it connected to the long-deferred Horn Road infill station?

Reply:  SacRT is committed to constructing the Horn Road station. We view the station as a catalyst for smart development in the area. However, we have been unable to identify a funding source at the current time. The construction along Folsom Boulevard is most likely connected to the city's complete streets project which will make it easier to bike and walk to SacRT's light rail stations.

Natomas, CA:  Is there a way that the SacRt ride vehicles in the South Sacramento area real-time locations can be visible on a map for possible riders to view? Thank you

Reply:  The bus locations of SacRT's SmaRT Ride Franklin/South Sacramento is viewable via the Microtransit app. I would encourage individuals to download the app through the App Store or Google Play.

Sacramento , CA:  Will aspects of the old Transit Renewal project be incorporated into SACRT forward?

Reply:  The SacRT Forward project incorporates feedback from the community, stakeholders and past SacRT planning documents. The Transit Renewal Project was provided to the SacRT Forward team to utilize as they formulate a new network design.

sacramento, CA:  I am not sure why we need to have our SmartCard scanned more than once a month? If the goal is to assure 100% compliance scanning the card once is sufficient to show the most current month has been purchased and updated on the card. There are no turnstiles being ignored or anyone attempting to ride free. One time I did not have my card tapped prior to running and catching a train, I was informed that I would be given a warning but next time I would receive a ticket, even though I have ALREADY paid for the entire month. I believe the time and manpower spent scanning cards of regular riders could be better served catching those offenders who DON'T purchase the monthly pass or even daily passes.

Reply:  Tapping your Connect Card before you ride activates the chip within your card and simplifies the fare inspection process. We are working on upgrades to the fare inspection application that will make it easier to confirm that a rider has paid for a monthly pass even if they haven't tapped. We will still ask that you tap every time, but this upgrade will ease the fare inspection process significantly.

Sacramento, CA:  I have been purchasing monthly passes for years (to ride light rail), and recently began purchasing the monthly pass using the Connect Card. I find using the Connect Card with a monthly pass to be much less convenient than the old paper passes because of the requirement to "tap" it each time. I used to be able to just hop on the next train without having to doing anything. Since monthly passes are good for a month, please explain the real reason for the requirement to "tap" every time I ride during the month. Thanks!

Reply:  Tapping your Connect Card before you ride activates the chip within your card and simplifies the fare inspection process. We are working on upgrades to the fare inspection application that will make it easier to confirm that a rider has paid for a monthly pass even if they haven't tapped. We will still ask that you tap every time, but this upgrade will ease the fare inspection process significantly.

Fair Oaks, CA:  I do like the advertisements on the RT trains. The trains look much nicer with them. But, can the advertisement wraps not cover the windows nor doors? Passengers waiting outside cannot determine which car has less people on it. I'd like to get on a train with less people on it, or avoid the cars with people blocking the doors due to reaching maximum capacity.

Reply:  When designing future light rail wraps, we have asked that window not be fully covered. We are not able to update current wraps due to cost, but will limit coverage moving forward.

Natomas, CA:  The new SacRT ride shuttle in South Sacramento is advertised as one of 12 that is planned to be up and running within the next year. There’s another shuttle in the Citrus Heights area. Where are the other 10 shuttle routes going to be placed throughout Sacramento? Thank You

Reply:  SacRT will be going back in front of the Sacramento Transportation Authority Board in September to update them on the status of the program and future SmaRT Ride implementations. The next launch sometime this fall/winter will encompass downtown/midtown/east Sacramento Othere zones to follow include North Sacramento, Carmichael Aridden Arcade, Rancho Cordova, South Sacramento East, Folsom, Elk Grove and others.

Sacramento , CA:  The Handicap section is out of control. We have people sitting there who are not handicapped or elderly. Why is this section not monitored? There is a sign posted “it is the law” but the ticket guards or drivers do not enforce the law. Also people getting on with those shopping carts take up most of the room in the evening and it is hard to get a seat after 4:00. Why aren’t they required to take those carts to the back with the bikes! Help!

Reply:  We understand the problem and we do attempt to enforce the ADA area on both our buses and trains. Unfortunately, this is not as easy to do as it might seem. On light rail, we start by trying to limit who boards across the ramp so that we do not have people blocking the ADA area with strollers and shopping carts. Our operators do ask people to move in order to accommodate riders using mobility devices as well. On the other side of this discussion, the ADA area is open to any elderly rider or riders with disabilities and we are not allowed to question the nature of someone's disability. While we understand and respect the reason for this, it does make more strict enforcement difficult. Finally, while misusing this area is against the law, SacRT's transit agents do not have the legal authority to enforce this particular law, and enforcement would basically be asking the rider to leave the vehicle. In our experience, this can significantly delay service for all of our riders on that particular train or bus. Of course we will continue doing our best to manage this area, but hopefully I have explained why strict enforcement is unrealistic.

Natomas, CA:  1.Will Sac RT consider expanding the bus route(11 or 86) in Natomas? We recently moved to the Duckhorn area (95834) on the other side of the freeway in North Natomas and my son attends Westlake Charter. He along with other children in the community will not be able to take Sac RT because there is no buses that service North Natomas. 2. Will this change anytime soon? (The NNTMA service the area for commuters going towards downtown by not crossing over the overpass connecting to the other side of Natomas.)3. Will there eventually be a shuttle catering to those in Natomas that depend on public transportation?

Reply:  SacRT contracts with the North Natomas TMA to operate the Natomas Jibe service. From discussions with the SacRT Board of Directors, it is clear that more bus service in North Natomas is needed. We are currently examining funding options to allow us to implement service. There also has been discussion regarding a North Natomas SmaRT Ride service that would enable regional on-demand trips.

Closing Remarks:

Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will be held on Friday, September 7, 2018.