Transit Talk with the General Manager

April 05, 2019
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

Welcome to the April 2019 edition of Transit Talk with the General Manager!

As I mentioned last month, SacRT's Board of Directors approved a new bus network proposal on February 25, which comprehensively redesigns SacRT's bus system. We will begin the new service on Sunday, September 8, 2019.

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

In some areas where there is low demand for fixed-route bus service, or is not designed for large buses to navigate through neighborhoods, SacRT will deploy SmaRT Ride microtransit service. The new SmaRT Ride service areas are currently in development.

The new bus network consists of 27 regular routes and 15 peak hour only routes, with all routes having 7-day week service (except route 33) and all having 45 minute or better service (with the exception of route 19). For more information and route by route changes, visit

I want to thank everyone who provided feedback and shared their concerns. We will continue to document remarks, and monitor each route to optimize and adjust service on a quarterly basis as needed.

On April 1, the SacRT pre-paid ticket and pass exchange began for those customers wishing to exchange current, unvalidated Basic and Discount single fare paper tickets or daily passes with a June 30, 2019 expiration date for the fare equivalent value only on electronic media, Connect Card or ZipPass.

Starting on Saturday, June 1, 2019 through Saturday, August 31, 2019, the exchange will also include paper fare media.

Visit for more information and extended Customer Service and Sales Center hours during the exchange dates.

On March 13, the Elk Grove City Council approved a service contract between SacRT and the City of Elk Grove that authorizes SacRT to begin operation of e-tran bus service on July 1. The e-tran bus service will not change under the new service contract but will allow for seamless connectivity for customers and better transit service for Elk Grove residents. Contact information and branding for e-tran will remain the same.

The next time you visit SacRT's Customer Service and Sales Center you will see some construction underway, which will ultimately make a better customer experience for you. Construction plans include expanding the lobby area by 266 square feet, additional seating, more windows and a new "take-a-number" system to alleviate long lines. The expansion should take approximately three months. We thank you in advance for your patience during construction.

Now let's get to your questions.

Sacramento, CA:  Has SacRT ever considered an adopt a stop program where residents and local groups such as neighborhood associations can take action to improve their local bus and light rail stops?

Reply:  I think that is a tremendous idea. We recently implemented an Adopt-A-Station where our Executive Management Team and SacRT Police Officers have adopted individual stations. They are tasked with visiting their adopted station at least once a month and report back on cleanliness and any other safety or security issues. This helps us keep a better pulse on what the rider experiences on a daily basis. If you are interested in participating, please reach out to our Police Chief, Justin Risley at and he can assist in exploring the idea further.

Sacramento, CA:  Bus lanes, queue jumps, signal prioritization, and other BRT type capital improvements are obviously needed across the system, especially on the busiest corridors and when running through downtown. I'm glad to see that SacRT is in the planning stage for these sort of improvements. Do you have any update on how these are moving forward?

Reply:  SacRT is very excited to envision new bus rapid transit routes throughout our service area. As you mentioned, we received approximately a $250,000 grant to study and plan for new service. For BRT to be truly successful, as you point out, they need dedicated bus lanes, queue jumps to get a head start on traffic and signal prioritization. We will be examining a number of corridors for the potential service, including Stockton Boulevard, Watt Ave, Sunrise and more. We anticipate taking Board Action in the near future to begin the planning process. We will soon update the portion of our website dedicated to planning and construction to add further information about this effort.

Sacramento , CA:  What’s the status of the light rail car procurement?

Reply:  SacRT is working with San Diego's MTS light rail vehicle procurement department in a joint procurement. Doing this will not only expedite the delivery of new, modern, low-floor light rail vehicles, but allow SacRT to have better purchasing power. As of now, we anticipate having information to share on this procurement by August 1, 2019.

Sacramento , CA:  In light of the current fair exchange, will RT gradually phase out paper fare media and replace them with electronic media?

Reply:  SacRT is encouraging passengers to transition to electronic fares. We extended the ticket exchange period this year and during the first two months (April-May) will only be offering exchanges onto electronic media. Beginning 6/1 we will begin exchanging paper tickets for paper tickets if the passenger for those few passengers that require paper tickets. That being said, at this time, we do not have plans to fully eliminate paper media, but we will continue to encourage transition to electronic fares whenever it is beneficial.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  With regards to the station information signs, can the train arrival times be set to show after every ‘informational message’ instead of having to wait thru four or five messages (no smoking, etc.)? I’d say people are more interested in when the train is supposed to be there. Along those lines, can the number of cars per train be added (such as like on BART) so riders would know how many cars to expect? Also, can the outbound gold line tracks just west of the Watt Avenue overcrossing be repaired? The train jostles everybody around to the point of almost knocking people out of their seats. This has been an issue since the overcrossing was built & I think is a result of the tracks being moved to one line during construction.

Reply:  Thank you for your comment and question regarding our electronic digital message boards at our light rail stations. We are currently in the process of implementing real-time train arrival. This means that the Boards will no longer display light rail schedules, but give far more accurate estimated arrival tmes. We hope to implement real-time arrival sometime this summer. I will certainly talk with facilities about displaying arrival times more prominently and often. In response to the gold line tracks west of the Watt Avenue overcrossing, we have spent some time to distress the existing rail which should help with the ride quality. That being said, I will ask staff to provide me with an update on this situation and look for a near term solution. Thank you for your questions and feedback.

Sacramento, CA:  Hi, daily choice rider. Since its debut, the new covered LR passenger waiting area @ SE corner of 7th & L has a leaky roof. Been that way since it opened. I have reported this previously to Mr. Lonergan. Not repaired yet. I am deeply concerned RT got a flawed project, and this problem must be fixed before it's too late to make the architect and/or builder "eat" the cost to make it right. Are you aware? When will it be fixed? I have recent video captured the leak occurring last month still! David Von Aspern

Reply:  Thank you for your question David. I will instruct my facilities team to immediately inspect the roof and provide a remedy. Thank you for alerting us to this situation. As you know, the station opened up in advance of the Golden 1 Center.

South Sacramento , CA:  Since RT will be contracting with the City of Elk Grove (e-Tran), will there be any future service changes with some of the RT routes that would connect to Elk Grove?

Reply:  This is a great question. SacRT recently was awarded a contract with the City of Elk Grove to operate the bus service for the City of Elk Grove. All decisions about routes and service changes are still controlled by the City of Elk Grove. This contract will take effect on July 1, 2019. At this point in time, SacRT would like to hear feedback from our on how well we operate this service. Thank you.

North Highlands, CA:  Please explain to me why you have completely isolated an entire community by discontinuing route 80 and rerouting the 93. I need both the 80 and the 93 to get to work and church. You ask for feedback and I know there were a lot of people who voiced their concerns about 80 and the 93. I ride the first 80 of the morning and it is always pack with sometimes standing room only. Why discontinue an very busy route? How am I supposed to get to work now?

Reply:  The new route optimization plan found that service in this area, Watt Avenue and North Highlands, will be best covered by the new Routes 26 and 84. Route 93 will have some alignment changes; however, without knowing exact origins and destinations, it is a challenge to provide what the alternatives would be. During the public outreach period, we did receive feedback on most of the proposed changes, and each and every comment was carefully reviewed and considered. Outreach efforts have been on-going for over a year, and we do encourage or patrons to continue communicating their feedback. We really hope you try these new routes and want you to give us feedback if this meets your needs.

Sac , CA:  Will Elk Grove have any bus stops on P n Q street to pick up thru downtown or just Elk Grove stops?

Reply:  The current e-tran services are not anticipated to change, and as of now, e-tran's commuter bus routes do serve some specific stops on P and Q Streets.

Folsom,, CA:  What is being done to improve the reliability and safety of the Gold Line? During peak commuter times there should always be four cars, but that is not the case on a regular basis. When there are only three cars, people are jammed together like sardines. This is unsafe. I have personally fallen into other riders because I cannot reach a handle to hold on to in order to maintain balance. The Gold Line, especially during after work commute times, is not on time, including three times in less than a week with no explanation. I have given numerous feedback responses and it seems like things are getting worse not improving.

Reply:  Sorry to hear that. I want you to know, that our focus on the state of good repairs remains my number one priority We have been aggressively seeking funding to replace our aging existing light rail cars. Over the past few years, we have increased our operating budget to account for additional costs to keep these cars in working order, but we are reaching a point where the cars need to be placed. As is relates to maintaining a 4 car consist, I have a team of individuals that constantly monitor our situation to meet the high capacity demands. However, because we have an aging fleet of light rail vehicles that require extensive maintenance issues to remain in service, it is sometimes not possible. The good news is, we have secured a state grant to help us procure 20 new light rail vehicles and will be applying to SACOG's 2019 Regional Funding round requesting $20 million to help finalize the funding for the project. We can anticipate the delivery of these new cars within the next 2 years.

Sacramento, CA:  Does your agency coordinate schedules with Captiol Corridor? Sometimes the schedules can be frustrating because a bus will leave right before a train is scheduled to arrive, or vice versa. This is magnified by the rather long walk from the tracks to the closest bus stops. Improving the transfer process at the train station would be great to see in SacRT's mid-term plans.

Reply:  Thank you for providing this information. Capital Corridor implemented schedule changes last year, which may have changed some of the connections between modes. SacRT may be modifying the light rail schedule for the implementation of SacRT Forward, our bus network redesign project, that will be effective in September 2019.

Orangevale, CA:  Why are there no updates on the app or RT station signs when trains are late 5+ minutes?

Reply:  We are nearing implementation of real time train arrival on our electronic digital message boards. We hope to have that information ready to go this summer. If you utilize the Alert SacRT app, we will routinely push out notifications and service delays through this platform.

Sacramento, CA:  In the past, I have filed complaints with your customer service reps from a bus driver engaging in conversations with passengers glorifying dead police officers to driver's doing rolling stops ahead of schedule. No profanities or any derogatory statements in these messages, yet they never seem to get a response. Is it SacRT's policy to have customer service reps filter negative emails and click the 'delete' when dealing with conflict? Is this something the union engages in to protect its own?

Reply:  Thank you for your feedback. Our bus drivers and light rail operators are customer facing positions and we expect them to operate in friendly and professional manner. I am sorry to hear about your experiences and will continue to emphasize and instruct my bus operations team to conduct additional customer service training for our drivers. To provide you a response to your question, we don't filter any negative emails and we research complaints as they arise. Anytime this occurs, please provide as much information as possible to our customer advocacy department.

Folsom, CA:  There is not a day that goes by the the gold line doesn't have a problem. The train is late, short cars during peak times, brakes catch fire

Reply:  As you may know, SacRT's light rail system is now over 30 years old and 1/3 of our vehicles are currently past their useful life and require significant care and maintenance to remain in service. However that being said, our year to date on time performance for light rail is 94.8%. Although we strive for 100% light rail performance, we know that events can occur that prevent us from reaching this objective. Our goal now is to turn our attention to replacing these vehicles. Funding is our biggest challenge right now, but recently, SacRT received a state grant that will allow us to purchase 20 new, low-floor vehicles. Once procured, this will greatly improve the rider experience.

Sacramento, CA:  Thanks to you, your board, and ESPECIALLY your staff for all you do. All too often public transit is overlooked but it is incredibly important to Sacramento's success and health. Keep it up!

Reply:  Thank you! Transit plays a critical role in congestion light rail emission reductions and economic development. With out our light rail network, thousands of light rail cars would be on our roadway every day.

North Highlands, CA:  How will 26 cover route 80? and I ride the 80 from Watt and Karl to the Watt &I80 during the week and and the I ride the 80 from Watt and Karl to Elkhorn and Diablo to catch the 93 on Sundays. Then I ride the 93 all the way down to a few stops before Louis and Orlando. What will I take to get to church now?

Reply:  Route 26 will operate on Watt Avenue, similarly to what the Route 80 does today. The Route 84 will run from Watt/I-80, north on Watt Avenue to Don Julio, and will intersect Elkhorn. Route 93 will also intersect Elkhorn, but depending on how far you want to walk, making the connection to either Route 26 or Route 84 may be done at the Watt/I-80 transfer point. All three bus routes will have 7-day a week service. For more details on trip planning, please contact our Customer Service department at 916.321.2877.

Closing Remarks:

Thank you for your questions. Please join me for the May GM Chat on Friday, May 3, 2019.