Transit Talk with the General Manager

September 07, 2018
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

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

Keeping our passengers concerns and needs in mind, I am delighted to share some great news!

At the August 27 Board of Directors meeting, the SacRT Board approved staff recommendations to use funds resulting from cost-cutting measures and operational efficiency savings to reduce fares in an effort to invest back in the Sacramento community.

Given the success that SacRT has had at controlling costs during the last couple of years, SacRT now has more flexibility to pass the savings back to customers by implementing improved and more frequent services. This is the first general fare reduction in SacRT's 47-year history!

As of October 1, the basic single ride will decrease by 25 cents from $2.75 to $2.50, and the discount single ride will decrease by 10 cents from $1.35 to $1.25. The basic monthly pass will decrease by $10 from $110 to $100. The discount monthly pass will decrease by $5 from $55 to $50.

Fare changes also include the reimplementation of a 25 cent transfer ticket, which allows riders who purchase a single ride ticket with cash to transfer between bus and light rail, light rail to bus or bus to bus. Riders are already able to transfer for free using electronic fare media using ZipPass or Connect Card.

SacRT is continuing the $20 reduced rate for a student monthly pass. 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 the reduced fares, please visit

Another great benefit for passengers will start with the New Year. In January 2019, SacRT will increase weekend light rail service frequency from 30 minutes to 15 minutes. On Saturdays, the 15-minute service will operate approximately from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Sundays and holidays, the 15-minute service will operate approximately from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. All other times on Saturdays and Sundays/holidays, light rail frequency will be 30 minutes.

If you are looking for some fun events to enjoy on September 15, stop by SacRT's booth at the El Grito en la Franklin Mexican Independence Day being held at 5385 Franklin Boulevard or the Natomas Pops in the Park Concert at the Natomas Community Center. In addition, SacRT is offering free rides to people attending Folsom Live with a valid admission ticket on Saturday, September 22, and the Farm-to-Fork Festival (must show free ride flyer printed or electronic copy) on Saturday, September 29.

Now let's get to your questions.

Sacramento, CA:  This morning (9/7/18) bus number 11 (inbound North Natomas) coming from downtown Sacramento on North 7th came at 7:08am earlier then the expected time of 7:11am. My son and I crossed in front of the (half empty)bus on Richards. I motioned to the bus driver to wait by using layman's sign language. I pointed to myself and pointed to the bus stop. My son and I continued to cross in front of the bus walking on Richards Blvd. We ran to the bus stop (0605), the bus driver did not stop and continued to drive. There was a teen student that was waiting at the stop and was not picked up. The three of us waited for the next bus 11 to come at 7:44am that was standing room only. This is the third time that a situation like this has happened since the new school year has started in August. I wish for this to be documented in the drivers file of this complaint. My son (a sixth grader) is late/tardy because of the bus. I can provide my sons Connect Card number which will display his consistency and promptness of catching the same route every school day. My son and I would take 15 to connect to 11, but it is constantly late that we choose to walk to this stop. What is the protocol for a Sac RT bus arriving earlier than the designated/expected time? If a driver sees a potential patron wanting to aboard, shouldn’t the driver stop at the bus stop?

Reply:  I apologize for the inconvenience that this caused you this morning and I have forwarded your email to our Customer Advocacy Department to follow up on. Unfortunately, we do not have your contact information through the GM Chat. It would be helpful if you also contacted Customer Advocacy directly so that we can follow up with you on how this was addressed. You can contact Customer Advocacy at (916) 557-4545.

Natomas, CA:  How long will it take you to review the recent route changes to Westside and West Central to determine if they are configured the best for the community they serve? The routes are appear to be inefficient.

Reply:  SacRT operates these routes under contract with the North Natomas TMA. The TMA does all of their own route and schedule planning so it would be best if you raise your route specific questions directly with them.

Natomas, CA:  If i want to advocate for a SmartRide to be in Natomas. How can I go about doing so? Thank you.

Reply:  The Sacramento Transportation Authority has approved the various SmaRT Ride Zones. We are looking at additional SmaRT Ride Zones that will ensure we have coverage and provide the best possible transit service. We are currently reviewing the possibility of a Natomas SmaRT Ride service, however we are in the process of implementing the approved zones first. The next SmaRT ride service to be implemented will be Old Sacramento/Dowtown/Midtown/East Sacramento.

Sacramento, CA:  Can something be done about the buses speeding down F St. between 51st and 53rd, during the early morning hours around 6:30AM?

Reply:  I will immediately have our Bus Supervisors look into the matter and address any issues they find related to speeding on residential streets in the early morning hours.

Natomas, CA:  Has NNTMA renewed their contract with SacRt? If so, what new changes are part of this contract? For how long is this new contract? Thank you.

Reply:  The new five year North Natomas TMA contract was renewed and took effect August 1st. They have rebranded their service as the Jibe Express. The new contract included new vehicles and new routes. You can learn more about the Jibe service here:

Sacramento , CA:  As a state worker, my agency was not aware of the new reduced fares. Will state employees receive the discounted rates beginning October 1st?

Reply:  State employees will also be able to take advantage of the reduced fares. Notification will be sent to your employer when they receive their monthly shipment of fare media. If your agency is using the Connect Card, you will notice the fare reduction online after September 15th.

Sacramento, CA:  Hello, I submitted a few questions prior to the start of this Transit Talk. How can I verify if they were received? Or since most of my questions were answered here already, will they be disregarded? Thank you!

Reply:  Thank you for participating in Transit Talk with the GM. Once the program is opened, questions are placed in a queue and answered in the order received. If a question is very similar to another or duplicative, we may choose to disregard it.

Sacramento , CA:  I have been planning a ride from Alkali Flat to Del Palo this week for an art viewing on my lunch break. The train was early and I hadn’t purchased through the app, ever. First time since the new zip app. I was ordered off the train since I had not purchased it yet. Why is this your policy if I am clearly buying it before even the train was scheduled to leave? Why have such an unfriendly policy? I would never kick a potentially paying customer off. Why ?

Reply:  I apologize for your experience. We do have a policy that if a passenger doesn't have fare that they receive a ticket. We have been experienecing issues lately where people paying with electronic media are not activating their fare costing a loss of revenue. With that said I believe every sitaution is unique to iteself and will instruct Transit Agents to be more forgiving. We are even discussing a new program that allows people riding the train without fare to buy fare at an increased cost. This would allow them to continue to ride and avoid having to leave the train.

Sacramento, CA:  Good Afternoon, I have two questions: As a senior I purchase a sticker at my bank, although the Connect Card is now available. The advantage of the sticker is that I can pay cash at the bank rather than the credit card. The agency I work for does have on-line process for the Connect Card with the balance taken from either a debit card/credit card. At least two of us do not want to do this. question is how long will we be able to purchase the senior sticker. Question 2: I know this new procedure takes some time to get the bugs out but just calling Customer Service takes FOREVER for a general question such as getting lights fixed at a station or why the signage has been reported several times and weeks ago and has not been repaired. As a long time light rail/bus rider, I am more interested in continued maintenance rather that new rail to the airport. Thanks!

Reply:  At this time we have not set a date to quit selling the paper monthly passes or stickers. Your Connect Card can be loaded with cash at any participating retailer or the SacRT Customer service center. However, as a subsidized employee you will be required to purchase your fare at full price on your Connect Card and seek reimbursement from your employer at a later time. To report any light rail issues or bus stops issues, please use the Alert SacRT app. This customer complaint then get's routed to the correct department, in this case lights at a station is a Facilities issue. Facilities then takes the issue and creates a work order and assigns it to the correct person and prioritizes repairs off of a process. Safety being prioritized first. Facilities also has a pro-active preventative maintenance plan and is continuously working on improving our system.

Sacramento, CA:  One of the Connect Card readers at the Watt/Manlove station has been missing for almost three weeks now. Will it be replaced soon? It's the reader that is convenient for riders entering the station from the east entrance to the parking lot. Thanks.

Reply:  Thanks for the update. We are waiting for repaired devices to be returned to us. As for now, we can have our technicians look into moving a device from a less utilized location to the Watt/Manlove location your are referencing.

North Highlands, CA:  What is the status of the redesign of the Watt I-80 Light Rail Station? The elevators are still broken, The place smells and there's trash everywhere. I keep seeing you say things are cleaner. I wonder what your definition of clean is?

Reply:  The status of the redesign of Watt and I-80 is currently pending funding. The elevators are currently not broken, but are in need of refurbishment and are unreliable. SacRT has plans to upgrade the elevators and the timeline is tentative for 2 years upon completion. We have a cleaning schedule for Watt and I-80 and are aware of both the challenging demands of this location and continue to maintain a cleaning schedule to help alleviate the cleanliness issues.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  I love the introduction of SmartRide, but will it be expanded to Rancho Cordova in the near future?

Reply:  Thanks! I am glad you like SmaRT Ride. We do plan to expand SmaRT Ride to additional areas throughout the Sacramento region with Rancho Cordova being one of them. In addition to the current service in Citrus Heights, Orangevale, Antelope and most recently Franklin-South Sacramento, the next area SmaRT Ride will operate is mid-town, downtown and east Sac. Check regularly for updates and maps of the SmaRT Ride service areas.

Sacramento , CA:  Please explain the transfers? When RT used them many years ago, we would pay a regular bus fee then receive a 'transfer slip' upon request, valid for 90 minutes. So, will this transfer now be valid on the light rail trains?

Reply:  In short the answer is yes. When boarding a bus with cash or a unvalidated prepaid ticket riders will be able to purchase a transfer ticket for an additional $0.25 fee. The transfer ticket will be printed from the farebox and expire 90 minutes from the time of issuance. This transfer ticket will be accepted on all SacRT services (including light rail). However, transfer tickets will not be accepted on neighboring transit agencies.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  I ride the light rail every day to and from from Sunrise to Archives Plaza(with no bicycle). I have noticed issues daily with bicycles on the lightrail cars. Are there any plans to create a better space for passengers traveling with bicycles? It is difficult for passengers to get on and off of the train with the bicycles stashed in the entry/exit doorway steps(entry and exit steps) and in the area designated for elderly and disabled passengers. The bicycle riders have issues getting bicycles on and off the train cars. I think it would be a good idea to have a separate car for bicycle passengers or a separate space for the bicycles. The train cars are full of regular passengers and almost every day I have to stand from Archives Plaza to the Watt Avenue station. Can you add more cars for the 7-9 am and the 5-6 pm. commutes? 4 cars is not enough. Then with the added the issue of the bicycles, noted above, the commutes are a mess and frustrating. The commutes could be improved greatly. Please consider the points above. I have to take the light rail to work every day for the next 10 years. While I do like the paint wraps that have improved the outward appearance of the cars, I think addressing the bicycle issue is more important to commuters like myself.

Reply:  Earlier this year, SacRT received a state grant that will allow us to begin a transition to low-floor light rail vehicles. These modern vehicles will begin to replace our agining fleet, many of which have reached the end of their useful life. The low floor vehicles will be easier to board with bicycles and will accommodate more space. Additionally the grant we received calls on SacRT to implement express trains during commute peak hours. Because our vehicles are aging, they require more and maintenance to keep in service. Our goal is to always operate 4 car consists during peak hour, but that depends on the availability of vehicles. Replacement vehicles remain SacRT's number one capital need.

Sacramento, CA:  Two things along the Gold Line: (1) A large collection of trash sits against the wall north of the tracks about a block east of the 51st Street intersection. Isn't that RT land? It might be a homeless camp, current or abandoned. I have reported it by phone three times (waiting between them), and a train driver told me a week ago he would report it, but it's still there. (2) The station clock on the westbound side of the Power Inn station is several hours off, and has been for a while. It's humorous but unhelpful, so please fix. (3, a bonus) Thank you very much for assigning a thorough and energetic person to sweep the various stations! He said he has only one colleague. I wish you would add more just like him.

Reply:  To report your issues please use the Alert SacRT app. This is the best and fastest way for SacRT to route your issue to the correct department. Once you report the issue SacRT staff will assign the work to the correct department. The responding department will assign the work to the correct person and prioritize the work off of safety 1st.

Sacramento and Rancho Cordova, CA:  Hello, Are the reduced fares confirmed or still in the 'tentative' stage? If yes, please clarify the new fares beginning October 1.

Reply:  The fare reduction was approved by the Board and is scheduled to take effect October 1st. Staff is working diligently to implement the new fares. Full fare monthly passes will be reduced from $110 to $100 and discount monthly passes from $55 to $50. Single rides have been reduced from $2.75 to $2.50 for full fare riders and $1.35 to $1.25 for discount riders. The Board has also approved a transfer ticket that will allow single ride ticket holders to transfer for a $0.25 transfer fee. The above changes have been approved for 6 months pending a Title VI analysis and Board decision on permanency of the fare offering.

Sacramento, CA:  I work for a state agency that is not up to date on RT fares, news, etc. and do not offer Connect Card discounts either. Two questions: 1) If I visit the RT office on R Street, will I be able to purchase CC at discount rate, with my state ID? 2) Is it true that the single fare tickets will be eliminated sometime next year and RT will be using CC exclusively?

Reply:  State employees can not purchase fares for the discounted state rate at our Customer Service department unfortunately. At this point we have not set a date to eliminate sales of prepaid tickets. If you wish, feel free to contact our Customer Advocacy department (916-557-4545) and provide the name of your employer so that we can expedite their transition to Connect Card.

Carmichael, CA:  With the restoration of limited 15-minute light rail frequency on weekends,is there any consideration to at least adding at least an extra hour of evening round trips(departing during the 9pm hour on both lines)to Sunday light rail service?The last Sunday inbound trips on most bus routes miss connections on paper and in reality.

Reply:  Appreciate your suggestion. We are very focused on ways that we can encourage the use of both our bus and light rail systems. We did decide to try the more frequent Saturday service first. We will monitor how well this works before we look at other service improvements.

Laguna, CA:  One of the connect card readers at Franklin (west bound side) has been missing for awhile now. One of the connect card readers at 29th street (also west bound) rarely, if ever works. What is the time line for replacing and fixing these units respectively?

Reply:  We are waiting for parts to be returned from our vendor. We will look into moving devices that are functioning at low usage locations to higher traffic areas.

Laguna, CA:  Replying to the individual who said “As a long time light rail/bus rider, I am more interested in continued maintenance rather that new rail to the airport.” - I’m interested in both! It shouldn’t be a zero sum game.

Reply:  Regarding continued maintenance, SacRT has a pro-active preventative maintenance plan and a station cleaning schedule. Due to the nature of the business with public transportation, as soon as we clean a station, it can become dirty faster than we'd like.

Sacramento, CA:  Good afternoon, Are there any plans to bring back the historic streetcar for special/holiday service? Thank you!

Reply:  At the moment we don't have any plans to bring back the historic streetcar for special events. We can certainly revisit this in the future.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  I go to school at Sac State. I've seen an issue a few times now where the bus driver (87 mainly) has not switched the direction board over and it says that the bus is going to 65th light rail. Got on it, o la for it to be going up Howe. Is there any way that can be fixed?

Reply:  Thank you for the information. We will have this matter addressed with the operator. I would like to also mention that we should be rolling out real time arrival on our light rail message boards in the very near future. Currently the display projects scheduled arrival times. This will be a great improvement in the riders experience.

Sacramento-Rancho Cordova, CA:  I have been a regular RT passenger for decades. I hear a LOT of folks grumble about the stinky trains, no a/c, late trains, etc. etc. Although these are valid complaints on occasion, I would like to compliment RT for taking a serious look into most of the issues important to most passengers. On the early morning trains, for months, I've noticed how SO much cleaner they are; the fare evaders seems to have decreased dramatically; and late trains are not a daily issue. Still need improvements, but overall, RT has made great improvements in past year/months and for me personally, it beats having to be stuck in that horrendous freeway traffic. So, thank you RT!

Reply:  We have been working very hard to improve service quality. We really appreciate your positive comments and recognition of our efforts.

Sacramento, CA:  I do not own the technology to use the SacRT app. Are you not maintaining an alternative for riders with ordinary phones?

Reply:  The Connect Card provides a way for riders to take advantage of the benefits of electronic fares without requiring a bank account or smart phone. Customers can pick up Connect Cards and purchase fare media at any participating retailer or SacRT's Customer Service department. If you need assistance locating the nearest Connect Card retailer please contact our Customer Advocacy department at 916-557-4545.

Sacramento-Rancho Cordova, CA:  Any plans to expand the #86 and/or #88 routes, to/from Downtown/Natomas area? It would be great if they had them scheduled 15-20 minutes apart, vs. 30-35.

Reply:  We are continuously looking at ways to meet the needs of our riders. We would love to increase the frequency on bus routes, but that requires a significant financial commitment. SacRT receives 1/6th of a cent via sales tax proceeds Ccomparable agencies receive approximately 1 cent. SacRT lack of local funding makes it difficult to implement increased service.

CA:  do did you get a grant to help with lowering the fares?

Reply:  We have taken great strides to control our costs and restore fiscal responsibility to the agency. As a result we have significantly improved our fiscal outlook over the last few years, while building up our reserves. Now is the right time to reinvest these efficiences and savings back in the Sacramento community, so we have elected to return the benefit of a lower operating cost to our riders in the form of reduced fares. We have consistently heard from our riders that are fares were too high and impacted their ability to travel. We are pleased that SacRT is in a position to make public transportation more affordable within our service area.

Laguna, CA:  Can transit agents validate connect cards? In the past, if a ticket machine was not working and I couldn’t validate my ticket, the transit agent would validate it for me. However, if a connect card machine is broken, would a transit agent be able to validate or are we just SOL?

Reply:  Unfortunately Ttransit Agents do not have the technology to validate connect cards. If the machine is broken please notify the Transit Agent who can make a call on the radio for maintenance. They will also be able to verify if the machine wasn't working. If verified that the machine isn't working you will not be issued a citation.

Sacramento, CA:  Is there any chance at least one (or more) benches can be installed at the corner of 7th & J streets which is frequent hub for several buses? When my friends miss their #7 or #3 buses, which only run every 30-40 minutes, they have to stand there and there is no awning or anything to shield them from the bad weather.

Reply:  SacRT utilizes ridership numbers to determine stop amenities. We will look into this stop and evaluate for amenities.

Laguna, CA:  I still think the supervisors are prioritizing on time performance over safety. A couple weeks ago on light rail, the train was a 2 minutes early and started leaving before the departure time. Several people almost missed the train for this reason. One Good Samaritan held up the train by holding the door open only to be yelled at over the PA by the operator. It doesn’t seem right to do that when the train is clearly early.

Reply:  Safety is our first priority and I do not view this as prioritizing performance over safety. It is poor public service if we are operating ahead of schedule at light rail time points. Not all of our stations are time points and arrival times at stations not listed on the schedule can vary. I really need more detail, day, time and location, before I can really evaluate and address your concern.

Closing Remarks:

Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will be held on Friday, October 5, 2018.