Transit Talk with the General Manager

March 01, 2019
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

Welcome to the March 2019 Edition of Transit Talk with the General Manager!

For the past year I have been updating you on the SacRT Forward route optimization project. I am pleased to announce that this past Monday, the SacRT Board of Directors approved the new bus network proposal, which comprehensively redesigns SacRT's bus system.

Based on the comments received, and reviewing ridership and demographic data, staff spent the past two and half months making adjustments to the plan. A revised bus network proposal was released for public review on February 18, and approved by the SacRT Board of Directors on Monday, February 25. We look forward to rolling out the new service this summer.

The focus of the new network has been on building a solid network of core routes on major corridors that will lead to economic growth and reduce congestion. Adjustments have been made to almost every route, some minor and some much more substantial, which will provide improved schedules and better service reliability.

In many areas that don't have high demand for fixed-route bus service, or are not designed for large buses to navigate the neighborhood, SacRT will deploy SmaRT Ride microtransit service.

For more information and route by route changes, visit

This is an early reminder that effective July 1, 2019, SacRT buses and light rail fare vending machines will no longer accept pre-paid tickets and passes with a June 30, 2019 expiration date.

SacRT is starting the ticket and pass exchange earlier this year, on Monday, April 1, 2019, in order to provide better customer service, shorter wait times and ample opportunity for staff to answer questions about the transition to Connect Card and ZipPass fare options. Transferring the value on to electronic fare media eliminates the need for future paper ticket and pass exchanges.

From Monday, April 1, 2019 through Friday, May 31, 2019, customers will have the option to exchange current, unvalidated Basic and Discount single fare paper tickets or daily passes (June 30, 2019 expiration date) for the fare equivalent value only on electronic media, Connect Card or ZipPass. Starting on June 1, 2019 through Saturday, August 31, 2019, the exchange will also include paper fare media.

Customers can exchange their pre-paid tickets and passes at the SacRT Customer Service and Sales Center located adjacent to the 13th Street Station. Check for extended weekday hours and special Saturday hours. To make it more convenient for our customers, other exchange locations will be scheduled over the next couple of weeks at key light rail stations.

Now let's get to your questions.

Sacramento, California:  I watched your most recent Board Meeting on YouTube. I loved the testimony from the gentleman in the purple suit that, for lack of a better term, took an “oath” as it seems for the new network and the SacRT Forward Project. My question about the project is getting some clarity on what actual date the new network takes effect. From riding a long time as I have, I know that changes take shape in January, April, June, and September of every year. That being said, will the new network take effect on June 16th as the testimony back on Monday appeared to mention, or, is the implementation date on Sunday, September 1st? It seems to me that a full and complete series of educational forums on what you have been approved to do would suggest that your implementation date is September 1st. With all the work you have ahead, does September 1st make more sense than June 16th? It does to me. Thank you for your consideration.

Reply:  Thank you for your question. We agree we have a tremendous amount of outreach to do and we will be ready for launch of the new network in Summer of 2019.

North Natomas, California:  I want to thank you and the RT team for giving us 7-day-a-week service in your newly adopted network your board just approved. My question from North Natomas is regarding the nearby Sacramento International Airport. One speaker you had on Monday, of which I saw when the meeting was replayed on Channel 14, talked about Sacramento International Airport. When he/she concluded, I heard your board chairman was excited with a smile in saying “stay tuned - it’s coming.” OK, so this turned my head a bit in excitement too. What can you tell me as it relates to RT service to the airport? Can folks like me is both RT & YoloBus for the 2019 Holiday Season? I would be using it if you provided it. Thank you.

Reply:  SacRT is actively pursuing funding for zero emissions buses that would provide express service to the airport. We anticipate that this could be completed early in 2020.

Sacramento, CA:  Why can't we have express service to the airport?

Reply:  SacRT is working to finalize funding for a project that would operate service to the airport with zero emissions buses early in 2020.

Sacramento, CA:  Congratulations on the new bus schedules. I think that the shorter headways (on most lines) will make riding more convenient. It would be nice to have 15 min. headway on all lines, but I realize that is not practical. However I was not delighted that the 30 bus will have a 30 min. headway at CSUS (it is 15 min. now). Will it be more frequent at peak times? A lot of students use that bus.

Reply:  Thank you for your question. We are excited to offer more frequent service and more service on the weekend. You raise a great point about Route 30. We will have extra buses on peak hour trips and will monitor the performance of the route daily to ensure we are not inconveniencing our riders and meeting the demand for the service. We will update our Board monthly on how the network is performing and will make adjustments as needed.

CARMICHAEL, CA:  Is an infill Blue Line station still proposed for T Street on the downtown/midtown border?I recently read on a document that property connected to the station was declared surplus.

Reply:  SacRT owns a very small railroad spur parcel on T Street adjacent to our light rail track. The propert is landlocked by adajcent parcels and not needed for transit operations. Therefore we have declared the property surplus.

Elk Grove, California:  Will SacRT be operating E-Tran when the State of California begins its new year, starting on Monday, July 1st? A handful of folks on my commuter bus have been curious about this. A few commuters, when they hear this mentioned are afraid of SacRT. Personally, I don’t think there is anything to be afraid of. In fact, as I see it between the lines, SacRT might even do a better job as an E-Tran contractor than the current for-profit company that is currently in place doing the E-Tran contract. May I be able, through this Transit Talk, get your take on this, what the outstanding issues are, if any, and if this is something E-Tran riders can look forward to in the new Fiscal Year that starts on July 1st? Thank you.

Reply:  SacRT and the city of Elk Grove have been in discussion about a transit service contract to operate e-Tran servce. The city's current contract with MV expires on June 30th of ths year. SacRT would not make any changes to the service as indicated in the contract, but we believe we can signfcantly improve the service through better retention of operators and economies of scale.

Sacramento, CA:  Mr. Lee, I'm concerned about lights and signs not being fixed at certain stations, to wit: The 48th Light Rail Station's signage toward Folsom has been out for at least three months, and I have been told "it's on order." Now the other signage is missing the bottom half with only two lines at the top. I'm more concerned about these items corrected...maybe you need more repair people!

Reply:  Thank you for bringing this to my attention. We recently instituted an Adopt-A-Station program where my executive managers are also tasked to check their stations weekly. This should help us do a better job on identifying these issues and staying on top of them before they impact our ridership. I will follow up with our facilities personnel to determine the status of your concerns.In the future, please feel free to use our Alert SacRT app or text-a-tip at 916-318-3330 to report these types of issues.

sacramento, CA:  When do the route changes recently approved take effect?

Reply:  SacRT is pushing to begin operate the new network during the summer of 2019. We will working closely with our Board of Directors to announce a final date soon.

Sacramento, CA:  Will the rollout of the changes occur at one time, or will they be phased in?

Reply:  The changes proposed in SacRT Forward will all be implemented at the same time. Details of the proposed changes can be found at

Sacramento, CA:  Recently the Sacramento City Council passed a city-wide ordinance that removes required parking minimums and restricts car-oriented uses near its light rail stations. I'm very happy Sacramento passed this policy, it is great policy that should be expanded. My question is, could this ordinance also apply to high frequency bus routes? Broadway, Florin, and J-Street are obvious candidates for bus service improvements (increased frequency as well as capital improvements such as BRT infrastructure) . But if the ordinance doesn't apply to high-frequency bus routes then the ridership and development potential of these be busy bus corridors would be severely limited.

Reply:  We were supportive and appreciative of the City of Sacramento's Transit Oriented Development. We have been engaging local jurisdictions about more frequent bus service on key corridors, including priority lanes and signalization upgrades. One such project we are focusing on is a Bus Rapid Transit project on Stockton Boulveard. We will continue to partner on key projects to ensure they are successful when implemented.

Sacramento, CA:  Not sure how this site works. I can only see one question and one response that doesn't answer the question.

Reply:  Several questions come in at once and they are posted as they are answered. Thanks for participating.

Sacramento, CA:  Earlier I referred to Broadway as a potential BRT route (in reference to the TOD ordinance), I meant Stockton Blvd.

Reply:  Thank you for your clarification.

Sacramento, CA:  1. Please describe the changes you have made to the original plan of Dec 10, 2018 ("original plan") that appear in the revised plan the board approved Feb 25, 2019 ("revised plan")? 2. Why was there only one week permitted for the public to review these changes, when the original plan was available for over 2 months?

Reply:  Thank you for your question. You can review the changes that were made online at to view the changes in detail. The network shown to the Board on December 10, 2018 was the public release of the draft network. The network shown to the Board at the Febrauary 25, 2019. contained updates to the draft released on December 10, 2018.

Sacramento, CA:  What is the status of the Green line.? You Know that South Natomas is largely against the destruction of our only main street, and that RT routed it through our community to increase your chance for federal funding. So has this been reconsidered?

Reply:  The Green Line project is currently finishing up environmental documents. The locally preferred alignment calls for the route to travel along Truxel Boulevard. We have made tweaks to the route to minimize the impacts on traffic and the local community by proposing it along the center median.

Sacramento, CA:  You documents indicate that the Green Line will not reach the airport for 35 more years...if ever. When will you stop using "airport service" as the bogus selling point for the citizens?

Reply:  Build out of the Green Line depends on identify a local funding source. Currently, SacRT recieves 1/6th of 1 penny in sales tax. That is approximately 5 times less that on peer transit agencies. As you point out, the project will serve more than 150,000 residents that call South and North Natomas home.

Sacramento, CA:  When can we expect to see the new draft network finalized?

Reply:  On Monday, February 25th the SacRT Board approved the draft network. Expect to see further updates at subsequent Board meetings. Details of the new network can be found online at

Sacramento , CA:  With the changes to the bus network being approved including SmaRT ride in Gerber and Midtown and East Sacramento, will there be SmaRT ride in other places such as Arden/Arcade, once funding is available?

Reply:  We expect to operate SmaRT Ride in several areas throughout Sacramento to compliment fixed route service, which does include Midtown, East Sacramento, Arden/Arcade and Gerber.

Sacramento, CA:  RT needs to consider partnerships and integrate with micro transit to better serve low income areas. I would like to see something similar to JIBE in Natomas be extended to South Natomas or Del Paso Heights. What does this process look like?

Reply:  The JIBE is a contracted service operated by SacRT on behalf of the North Natomas TMA. They have a dedcated parcel tax that pays for the operation of the service. As for our microtransit service, SmaRT Ride, we have a grant to implement a pilot zones throughout our service area. We anticipate updating our plan with the Sacramento Transportation Authority very soon. We are currently looking at a zone that would serve the North Sacramento community.

Sacramento, CA:  Does SACRT receive any funding from the passage of Measure U from last November? Also how much additional funding will SACRT receive as a result of the Gas Tax not being repealed?

Reply:  SacRT has not recieved any Measure U funding. We have had discussions with the city about a variety of mobility needs and hopefully we can identfy a few projects to partner on. As for SB1 funding, SacRT receives approxmately $6 million annually from the program.

South Sacramento, CA:  Has SacRT (maybe Saccog is the correct agency for this) ever given any thought to purchasing and revitalizing the old Sac Southern rail line that runs through Riverside, Land Park, and Old Sac to accommodate a future light rail line? Obviously not a top priority now, but obtaining the ROW now could be vital for potential future service. It would be great for getting people off of I-5.

Reply:  SacRT acquired this parcel a number of years ago when examining potential light rail routes. We ended up chosing an alignment to the east that parallels the Union Pacific track. The city is now interested in leasing the property for the creation of the Del Rio trail and we are in discussions with them.

Sacramento, CA:  Why did you decide to keep routes 67 and 68 separate instead of sticking with the original draft proposal where they both went down MLK in Oak Park? It would have been great for everyone living in the area to get access to bus service with 15 minute frequency. People here are generally poorer and less likely to own a vehicle. Better transit would help us out tremendously. Curtis Park already has access to the light rail. Central and South Oak Park and the rest of South Sacramento should stop being ignored by SacRT. Please rethink the decision to keep Route 67 separate from Route 68 north of Fruitridge. Thank you.

Reply:  Thank you for your question. We will continuously monitor the performance of the new network and will provide monthly updates to the Board and will make adjustments to the service as needed to ensure we are meeting the expectations of our customers.

Citrus Heights , CA:  Earlier this week, on Tuesday, February 26, I received an email from sack RT forward with the attachment of the final draft of the new network. It says changes were supposed to take affect September 2019. Yet, when I listened to the board meeting from the night before that was pre-recorded, it said changes are to take affect June 2019. Why the confusion?

Reply:  Thank you for your question. We were originally planning a June 2019 implementation. We still continue to plan for a Summer 2019 implementation. A specific date will be shared soon.

Sacramento, CA:  When you start new bus network will telephone info be open on weekends this would be very helpful to seniors thanks,

Reply:  SacRT's customer service phone lines will be open extended hours, and special Saturday hours. We want to make sure that resources are available for customers to get where they need to go as they adjust to the changes.

Sacramento, CA:  With regards to "revised changes" I inquired about in my other question, I meant to add that I live in Arden area where we currently have very poor service along Arden itself. So I am concerned that the "original changes" which addressed this problem in, I think, a very positive manner might have ended up being eliminated in part or whole. Also, thank you for doing all this!

Reply:  Overall, we have added more service in the Arden area. Please see for more detail.

Elverta, CA:  Is it guaranteed that service to Elverta is being completely cut off? What are we supposed to do to get to school/work?

Reply:  Route 19 goes through Rio Linda and connects to Elverta and Watt, linking to more frequent bus routes along Watt. Unfortunately, the ridership numbers on Elverta currently do not support a fixed route bus. I would encourage you to reach out to our planning department for further discussion.

Sacramento, CA:  Why did you get rid of the realignment of Routes 67 and 68 that was in the original draft proposal?

Reply:  Thank you for your question. We continue to evaluate and make adjustments. We will monitor the performance of the new new network and will make adjustments as necessary.

Citrus Heights CA, CA:  Are there any plans to run the blue line farther north, at least to Citrus? The 80 median is wide enough to have the line go through there. This could be very cost effective.

Reply:  Thank you for your question. There are currently no plans to extend the Blue Line north of Watt/I-80.

Sacramento, CA, CA:  Since the streetcar has pretty much failed (due to the costs) are there any plans to run trains to West Sac? Are the airport plans still a work in progress?

Reply:  Project stakeholders are regrouping to determine the next steps for the proposed Streetcar. SacRT is working to finalize funding for a project that would offer express bus service to the airport in 2020.

Elk Grove, CA:  Sacramento transportation badly needs a new funding source, and a county or city sales tax seems like a logical path. Has there been any recent discussions about this? Cities and counties in the Bay Area and LA have been successful recently with implementing sales taxes and other transportation funding programs. Congestion pricing is another potential path.

Reply:  You are correct that SacRT recieves fives times less in local funding compared to peer transit agencies. The Sacramento Transportation Authority is currently examining whether it makes sense to place a transportation sales tax on the November 2020 budget. Local funding is critical for future expansion efforts and would make us more competitve for federal and state funding.

Citrus Heights , CA:  One person brought up lighting at light rail stations, I noticed that at one end of the what are you the light rail station near the east elevator, for people getting off the train and white night he using the wheelchair ramp, that there is no longer a connect card terminal at that end of the station. Also, I realize that there are announcements being made over a speaker system that is been deployed at all stations. However, it does not say when the next light rail train is coming. Aren’t those announcements supposed to tell blind people when the next train is coming as well?

Reply:  Thank you for your comments. We have forwarded them to our Customer Advocacy Department, who will follow up with the appropriate departments. You can reach Customer Advocacy at

Closing Remarks:

Thank you for your questions. Please join me for the April GM Chat on Friday, April 5, 2019.