Transit Talk with the General Manager

January 04, 2019
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Happy New Year! Welcome to the January 2019 Edition of Transit Talk with the GM!

First, I would like to remind you of a few customer conveniences new for this year. Customers parking at the Watt/I-80, Watt/I-80 West and Roseville Road pay-park-and-ride lots no longer have to pay a fee to park! And pending Board approval in February we plan to end parking fees at all SacRT pay-park-and-ride lots with the exception of the Cosumnes River College parking garage, which is operated by the school.

Next, as of Sunday, January 6, light rail service on weekends will operate every 15 minutes. On Saturdays, the 15-minute service will operate from approximately 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Sundays and holidays, the 15-minute service will operate from approximately 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. All other times on Saturdays and Sundays/holidays, light rail frequency will be 30 minutes. Visit for specific times and schedules.

These customer improvements are our way of saying thank you for riding.

At the SacRT Board of Directors meeting last month, SacRT Forward staff presented the draft New Bus Network. A series of open houses were also held for public review. If you couldn't make it to the Board meeting or one of the open houses, a video presentation is coming online soon! We still welcome comments and will present an update to the Board on Monday, January 28. Comments can be made by email, mail or phone. Visit for additional information. Final changes will be presented to the SacRT Board on Monday, February 25. If you would like your comments included in the February 25 Board packet, please make sure we receive them by 5 p.m. Friday, February 15.

Lastly, please join me and SacRT staff for the 38th Annual Capitol March for the Dream on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Monday, January 21. Most marchers will depart from Sacramento City College around 9 a.m. SacRT staff will carry a banner that reads "It All Started on a Bus" and will be followed by a bus available to those who cannot march the entire trip. Once at the Sacramento Convention Center marchers can enjoy the festivities at the Diversity Expo. Be sure to visit SacRT's booth located next to our historic "Old Blue" bus. Marchers wishing to return to City College can take special SacRT buses back to City College or ride light rail from Cathedral Square, which is a short walk from the Convention Center. Marchers ride for free so be sure to visit to print the free ride flyer.

Now let's get to your questions.

Sacramento, CA:  I would like to now why it smells like propane or natural gas around your building on Capital Blvd and 29th street going towards 28th street. It the building that they fix and wash the bus’s. I walked down that street for the last couple of Sunday’s morning and it gives me a terrible headache. I don’t think it should smell like that and would like to you to look into it for peoples safety.

Reply:  SacRT does not utilize propane to fuel vehicles. Our vehicles are comprised of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fuel engines. CNG is colorless and odorless. In addition, our facility is equipped with a CNG leak detection system in the unlikely event the CNG were to be spilled.

Sacramento, CA:  Last month, I was among riders who had the opportunity to attend an open house on the “SacRT Forward” Project that Regional Transit is kicking up into high gear. At the open house I had attended, several pages of new route descriptions were being discussed. I had also observed that many folks attending with me put in comment cards towards what they wanted to provide written feedback on. My question is this as a follow-up to the December Open House, and that is this: Has staff had an opportunity yet to go through all the comments and the communications they have received to date and made any service change modifications to the original service changes that they were proposing upon holding the open houses? Basically, has staff kept an open mind on their own route changes and made modifications based on all feedback from the December 2018 Open Houses? I happen to have a copy of the 9-Page handout of the initial route descriptions. If any of the changes have changed since then, would you please be able to provide me with those as your answer to my question(s) here in the “Transit Talk” Forum, and/or would you please be able to also direct me to a specific website or link from the website as to where I can look at changes to the changes, if any have been made, and are now transparently public knowledge? Thank you.

Reply:  Thanks for attending one of the SacRT Forward open houses. We were very successful in collecting comments, and we are continuing to solicit comments through the month of January. All comments are reviewed by the project manager and a number of SacRT staff members, and may be considered for future potential updates to the draft network. Although the draft network is not yet final, as of now, the proposed changes presented at the open houses are still being communicated with the public. All of the project information is updated regularly on our website and also on the project-specific website,

Sacramento, CA:  Why doesn't RT print the Bus & Light Rail Timetable Book anymore? There are a lot of people who don't have smart phones and/or a computer to check the bus/light rail schedule.

Reply:  At this time, producing the bus book is not cost effective. We have hard copy pocket timetable schedules available at many locations throughout the region. We also have a customer service line that people can call from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday to have any questions answered. We hope that riders who do not have a smart phone or computer can gain access to any information they need online through resources such as community centers, senior centers and public libraries.

Sacramento, CA:  Hi, I have a connect card and I was told to tap before I ride on light rail. My transit card is unlimited monthly. Why do I need to tap the card?

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:  What is the status regarding the University 65th Light Rail Stn relocation?

Reply:  SacRT is actively working with developers in the area on a plan for transit oriented development at this station. However, there are no set dates at this time.

Sacramento, CA:  In the draft sacrtforward plan, it is proposed that route 11 will be improved to run every 45 minutes and extended upto City College. When will the new route times be published ? My understanding is that the existing weekday 30 minute frequency running from 6.08am - 9.10am(club center natomas to downtown) and 3.04pm - 7.08pm(3&J downtown to natomas) will not change ?

Reply:  Trips times have not yet been scheduled for the proposed draft network. The proposed changes would take effect as early as June 2019 if approved by the SacRT Board. New route schedules will be published once the final network has been approved.

Fair Oaks, CA:  I'm a daily Gold line rider... I notice that there have been "reduced capacity trains" on the gold line and wonder when the rather creaky trains will be replaced by shiny new(er) ones. Also, what changes (if any) need to happen at stations to accommodate the new rolling stock?

Reply:  SacRT is the recipient of two state grants worth over $84 million! The two state grant awards will help to purchase 20 new low-floor light rail vehicles to replace others that are more than 30 years old. The state grant funding will also be used to modify several light rail stations to accommodate the low-floor style of the new light rail vehicles, which are easier to navigate for people with disabilities as well as for those with bicycles, strollers and luggage. This funding also paves the way for double tracking on the Gold Line between the Sunrise and Historic Folsom light rail stations, which will allow increased frequency of light rail service to and from Folsom. The single tracking that is currently in place restricts light rail trains to 30 minute service frequencies, but double tracking will allow for 15 minute service. The project also calls for signal improvements. The grant award requires SacRT to implement three express trips between Folsom and downtown Sacramento during peak commute hours in an effort to decrease commute times on the Gold Line. We anticipate the double tracking project will be complete by 2021.

Sacramento , CA:  The light-rail trains are very cold, regardless of the season. Is there any way to better regulate their temperature?

Reply:  The trains do have climate controls and SacRT does try to actively manage the temperature inside the trains. However, due to the doors opening frequently and varying passenger loads it is difficult to maintain a temperature that is comfortable for everybody.

Sacramento, CA:  Why does the gold line train leave Sacramento Valley station at 3:49am and arrive at 4:48am in historic Folsom? Who's working in historic Folsom 5:00a.m. in the morning?

Reply:  The CPUC requires SacRT to operate a clearance run before we start service on any given line. The first train scheduled to leave Folsom is at 5 am. Instead of running this train to Folsom with doors closed, we choose to operate it in service to allow anyone to ride if they choose to do so.

Sacramento, CA:  I’ve sent this through the app but haven’t received a response. If the rides were free on New Year’s Eve, why did the connect card and ticket machines allow people to buy tickets or tap their cards? The displays didn’t say the day was free for rides, the digital displays hanging on each side of the stop didn’t say it was a free day. We paid for tickets we didn’t need to. Why weren’t the machines turned off to let passengers know?

Reply:  For New Year's Eve, SacRT did not offer system wide free rides. Free rides were only being SacRT on light rail to riders going to and from the New Year's Eve Sky Spectacular in Old Sacramento. We required riders to present the free ride flyer that was available on to ride for free to and from this event. If you have any additional concerns, please don't hesitate to reach out to our Customer Advocacy Department at 916-557-4545 or Our Alert SacRT app is geared towards security and maintenance concerns rather than customer questions and concerns.

Sacramento, CA:  Why doesn't the downtown paystations allow people to pay with credit/debit cards? I found this to be inconvenient because it's almost impossible to get change at this time of night.

Reply:  SacRT is actively working to replace all of the Fare Vending Machines (FVMs) on the Blue Line and expect them to be installed within the next 18 months. All of the new FVMs will have credit/debit capability. If you are using credit/debit to purchase your fare please consider download ZipPass on your smart phone to avoid having to stop at the FVMs.

South Sacramento, CA:  Just looked at the SacRT Forward routes regarding the potential changes. What kind of feedback that you have received, and we’re there any further suggestions regarding any new realignments to routes? Also I see the future Route 5 just being a School Route. Have you notified the school districts regarding the future changes, such as Sacramento City and Elk Grove Unified?

Reply:  We have received a wide variety of comments on the proposed draft network. All comments are reviewed and considered. As of now, there have not been any additional changes to the information we have communicated with the public. Any updates made to the proposed changes will be posted to the project website, Additionally, we are in the process of reaching out to schools that may be affected by proposed changes. SacRT Planning and Outreach staff members have been attending, and will continue to attend community meetings and events throughout the month of January and February to ensure that we reach our entire service area.

Sacramento, CA:  What was the reason for a two car train leaving Watt I80 at 7:48 AM? You would think that at a prime commute time your trains would be, if anything, too long instead of too short. So the riders endured a miserable ride in, made worse by a near fight and expletive-laden shouting.

Reply:  SacRT is operating with a limited number of available light rail vehicles due to an aging fleet, sometimes resulting in two and three car trains during peak commute hours. SacRT’s goal is to operate four car trains during peak service times. I apologize for any inconvenience you are experiencing. Most of our light rail vehicles are 30 years old causing an associated increase in the amount of unscheduled service and maintenance. Please know that we actively working to replace the aging light rail vehicles with new modern low-floor vehicles; however, the process will take some time. We thank you for your patience as we work to modernize our system.

Sacramento , CA:  In regards to the low-floor Light Rail Cars, how are you going to modify the stations some of them especially downtown look difficult to raise or lower?

Reply:  The project will include a comprehensive design and transition plan to accomodate future low floor vehicles.

North Highlands, CA:  DOes the SacRT Forward plan take into account your elevators at Watt I-80 are broken?

Reply:  No, the SacRT Forward plan does not include plans affecting the Watt/I-80 elevator. However, SacRT has budgeted to replace the elevator.

Sacramento , CA:  Based on the proposed route changes on 30 and 62 going down L street, will there still be detours when there are events at Golden One (when L street is closed to traffic two hours before)?

Reply:  Attendance at Golden 1 Center events that would require detours downtown is determined by the City of Sacramento. If L Street is closed, then affected bus routes will be detoured.

Sacramento , CA:  I work in Folsom, and ride the Gold Line in from Sacramento. Is RT planning to increase service into Folsom every 15 minutes...?

Reply:  SacRT currently can not offer 15 minute service to Folsom because the system is not double-tracked past the Sunrise Station. SacRT recently was awarded $84 million of state grant funding that will allow SacRT to purchase 20 new low-floor vehicles and to complete double tracking on the Gold Line between the Sunrise and Historic Folsom light rail stations. This will allow increased frequency of light rail service to and from Folsom. The single tracking that is currently in place restricts light rail trains to 30 minute service frequencies, but double tracking will allow for 15 minute service. The project also calls for signal improvements. The grant award requires SacRT to implement three express trips between Folsom and downtown Sacramento during peak commute hours in an effort to decrease commute times on the Gold Line. We anticipate the double tracking project will be complete by 2021.

Sacramento, CA:  A compliment to the bus driver on Thanksgiving Eve who waited for me as he me running to catch the bus in Natomas. I submitted a complimentary message in writing as well, but wanted to reiterate that there really are great bus drivers out there!

Reply:  Thank you for submitting a positive comment regarding one of our team members. Happy New Years!

Sacramento, CA:  Happy New Year RT! Hello, I'm joining late so not sure if this was asked already: When I validate my single fare ticket at light rail station and then need to board a bus, can I give that validated ticket to the bus driver if it's within the 90 minute timeframe?

Reply:  When you board the bus you are transferring to, provide the validated single fare ticket to the bus operator and pay a $.25 transfer fee.

Folsom, CA:  Will light rail service to Folsom remain in effect for the foreseeable future? Residents in Folsom are complaining of an influx of criminal activity, partly due, in their opinion, to transients using the service.

Reply:  Yes, we intend for Folsom service to operate indefinitely. We are very excited about the increased light rail service to Folsom that began in June 2018. There are also future plans to add a second set of tracks to Folsom, which will allow us to operate 15 minute light rail service in the future. SacRT will soon be taking over the operations of the Folsom Stage Line bus service. We are excited to continue working with the City of Folsom to improve mobility for our region.

Sacramento & RC, CA:  Is there any chance to enforce the 'No Smoking' rules at the stations? I have asked numerous times about this but continue to see smokers puffing away within feet/inches of the "Smoking Prohibited'' message boards! It's annoying especially when you get stuck sitting next to someone who wreaks of stinky cigarettes or pot!

Reply:  SacRT actively monitors all of the stations using video surveillance and police officers. If a person is observed smoking at the station, they will be contacted via the public announcement system or an officer. With that being said, we are unable to be at all places at all times. You can alert SacRT by using the Alert SacRT app to report any nuisance behavior you observe.

Sacramento, CA:  The "alert" boxes that let the passenger know when the train will arrive - why doesn't the "alert" boxes show that information anymore?

Reply:  The passenger information signs light rail stations should be relaying the train schedules and any service disruption information. If you notice a sign that is out of order, please contact our Customer Advocacy department at 916.557.4545.

sacramento, CA:  It takes maintenance months or not at all to address concerns about non working signage, lighting concerns, both on the platforms and parking lots (Marconi station). 12 yr. commuter and see very little follow up on service calls placed at Marconi.

Reply:  If you see a maintenance related issue please report it to SacRT via the Alert SacRT app. We do our very best to address all maintenance concerns as they arise and are reported. SacRT continues to focus on the cleanliness and safety of all of our transit facilities.

Sacramento, CA:  What is the status of real-time information on bus and light rail times being implemented? And will this information be integrated into Google Maps and other mobility apps like Moovit, or only available via RT's site and app?

Reply:  Real time bus arrival information has been available for years. Please check, you can put in your bus stop number and see when the next bus will arrive. Real time train tracking is a project underway and expected to be in place sometime this year. Please stay tuned for more information on a start date.

Sacramento, CA:  Do the light rail train doors close automatically after so many seconds? I ask because several times I have been right there in clear view of the train operator and trying to open the door, but it is apparently locked . Just wondering.

Reply:  Once the train operator is set to leave the station, the doors will close and does not allow entry. This is for your safety and the safety of the passengers.

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for your questions. Please join me for the February GM Chat on Friday, February 1, 2019.