Transit Talk with the General Manager

August 02, 2019
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

Welcome to the August 2019 edition of Transit Talk with the General Manager! I hope you are having a great summer and that you had a great Fourth of July holiday.

I am proud to announce that SacRT recently received the 2019 Outstanding Public Transportation Manager Award from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This prestigious and highly competitive award is described by APTA as the equivalent of an Oscar award for the transit industry, and is presented to a manager who has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of public transportation in North America.

I am truly humbled and grateful to receive this honor, but this is genuinely about the community and our commitment to improving mobility in our region. It is through the leadership and support from the SacRT Board of Directors, the hard work and dedication of our employees and the collaboration and support from riders, community stakeholders and advocates that the District has been able to achieve transformational successes.

The award committee recognized SacRT's improvements in all key aspects of the District's organizational performance, including safety, security, cleanliness, fiscal health, rail system modernization, service reliability, customer satisfaction and ridership improvements. I am truly honored and thank all of you for investing in SacRT.

SacRT's new bus network is just a few weeks away from launching on Sunday, September 8. Make sure you are ready for changes that may impact your bus route. Check out for information about service changes, including those that serve Sacramento City Unified School District schools. Almost every bus route has been adjusted to improve frequency, scheduling, and weekend service. Use the SacRT Forward to plan your trip in advance of the changes. Simply enter any date after September 8, your starting point and your destination to find out which route or routes you will use on the new bus network. Visit to view all the bus route improvements, a fact sheet on the project and to sign up to receive updates on the project.

I have exciting news for parents and students who attend a school or reside in the city of Sacramento. Thanks to a partnership with the City of Sacramento, on October 1 we are able to offer fare-free transit for students in grades TK through 12. The City's Student Fare-Free Transit Pass program will provide over 100,000 students the opportunity to ride any of SacRT's fixed-route or SmaRT Ride microtransit services at any time. SacRT is actively working with the cities of Folsom, Citrus Heights, and Rancho Cordova, Sacramento County and several school districts to expand the program throughout our entire service area.

Student Fare-Free is a one year program that will be effective from October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020. The participating jurisdictions are sponsoring the program, providing funding to SacRT for lost fare revenue.

The student fare free passes will be made available in the form of a sticker to be placed directly on the student's valid school identification (ID) card, allowing schools to print and issue ID cards with the transit pass sticker already affixed to them. More information on the program is available at, with a dedicated web page on the program launching soon.

Now let's get to your questions.

Sacramento, CA:  Is there anything in the RT union contract that would prevent you from allowing customers to report, driver misconduct, such as failing to stop at a bus stop to customer service. If not are you willing to make such a change.

Reply:  There is nothing that precludes customers from providing feedback to SacRT. We are a better agency when we hear from our customers and act on their wants, desires and concerns I encourage you to reach out directly to or call 916-557-4545.

North Natomas, CA:  Tuesday of this week, the City of Sacramento held a General Plan 2040 Meeting in our neighborhood. When I learned of “SacRT Forward” and how the routes in our area are going to change, I was a bit surprised that a new route that will serve El Centro and Del Paso Roads, will abruptly end there, whereas Sacramento International Airport would, go my neighbors and I seem to be a more logical beginning/end point of this route. If this route changes and/or is extended, I hope you will consider extending this route to Sacramento International Airport. In the meantime, let me ask you this question. Why is it that we will have to first travel on SacRT to Downtown, then ride back North on YoloBus instead? If that’s the case, for now, it might make more sense from Del Paso and El Centro Roads to take Lyft or SuperShuttle. It doesn’t make transit sense to go downtown to go to the airport. Someone literally dropped the ball on this one, for sure.

Reply:  Appreciate the comment. Extending to the airport would take some additional time, and we do have limited resources, so that was just not feasible, in our view, under the current budget. But we are working on a separate grant-funded shuttle to the airport, to supplement the existing Yolobus hourly service.

Sacramento, CA:  Why are there insufficient number of train cars during peak hours and is this likely to change in the future? Thank you.

Reply:  SacRT's goal is to always operate four car consist during peak hours. As you may know, over half of SacRT's fleet is at or nearing the end of its useful life. SacRT has embarked on an aggressive light rail modernization plan that will replace the aging fleet with new low-floor vehicles, upgrade tracks to allow 15 minute service on the Gold Line to the Folsom stations and to improve our 52 light rail stations. We are also hiring additional mechanics to do our best to ensure four car consists throughout the system.

Folsom, CA:  Can you provide an updated schedule for the real-time train information at the stations? This has been promised for years. Thank you.

Reply:  We've been using real-time light rail information internally for a little while now thanks to an awesome effort by our IT department to reach this major milestone on a very minimal budget. We are working out the kinks and refining the system and we should be able to roll this out later this year.

Natomas, CA:  Will RT ever provide a route that allows me to get to the airport?

Reply:  We have heard loud and clear from our customers that they would like a transit connection to the airport. SacRT is continuing to progress light rail to the airport. In the meantime, we are looking to implement express electric bus service to the airport some time next year. We have received partial funding and will continue to pursue other funding sources so that we can launch this service as soon as possible.

Sacramento, CA:  The proposed change to Route 82 eliminates stops that serve the large Senior/Adult center on Gibbons Drive, and also the stop at Mission and Engle that serves a large nursing home, a number of mostly medical office buildings and the large Oakmont assisted living cnter, with the only benifit alleged being a change to 45 minute service on weekends. Why is a change to 45 minute service on weekends considered such a benifit?

Reply:  One of the things we were trying to do with this project was speed up the buses to make them more time-competitive. The routing along Gibbons Drive is fairly circuitous and time-consuming, and the stops on Gibbons drive average only about 1-3 boardings per day, so we felt that a straight route along Whitney would deliver faster service to American River College.

Sacramento, CA:  Would you be willing to consider extending live telephone assistance and informtion to weekends?

Reply:  This is currently planned. In January we improved frequency on weekend light rail service to 15 minutes. In September, when we add additional weekend bus service through SacRT Forward, we know it will be important for the customer to be able to contact a live person. More details to come about weekend customer service hours.

Sacramento , CA:  Do you have a definite date when RT will be receiving new light rail trains?

Reply:  As you may have recently seen in the news, SacRT is in negotiations regarding new light rail vehicles. While we don't currently have an exact schedule for delivery, we are moving as quickly as possible to add these new low-floor vehicles to our system.

Carmichael, CA:  Has Regional Transit ever considered removing bus stops to speed up the buses? There are stops every block and the bus is constantly having to pull over and then merge back into traffic. It is very annoying.

Reply:  SacRT's Board has adopted a new bus network that will be implemented on September 8th. SacRT will constantly examine bus stop spacing and will be conducting a comprehensive overview in order to perform bus stop balancing in the future with the hope of speeding up travel time.

Sacramento, CA:  Rt a number of years ago changed most of their schedules so that buses would at the same time each hour. In otherwords to hourly, or half hourly, or 20 minute schedules. This log ago improvement seems to have been abandoned in the revised schedules. Thus, customers will either have to consult a schedule if they happen to have one or call RT or access therir web site to find out when the bus is scheduled to arrive . Why was this step backward reversing a long ago improvement being made?

Reply:  All other things being equal, it is nice to have the buses run every 15, 30, or 60 minutes, so it always comes at the same time every hour, but there are lots of reasons why this is not always optimal. For some of our routes, it would literally be the same cost to run a bus every 45 minutes as to run it once an hour. But it would be double the cost to run it every 30 minutes. In cases like that, we felt it was better to have the extra service rather than have the schedules consistent, but only once an hour, especially if most of the transfers are to light rail running every 15 minutes.

Sacramento, CA:  My question is about light rail. First, I want to compliment SacRTD for going to a weekend schedule that allows trains to operate every fifteen minutes, but the problem I see is on Sunday/Holiday and one blue line train on weekday evenings. On Sunday/Holiday I only see trains operating with one car, not a minimum of two. One car makes it hard for both crowd control as well as the front because folks are taking up the seating area while not yielding to passengers that use the ramp because they otherwise couldn’t ride by being forced to use the stairs. On weekday evenings, a blue line train rolling into 16th Street Station at 7:39pm - heading towards Watt/I-80 has only one car, not the minimum of two, while the blue line trains both fifteen minutes before and after this particular blue line train are at the minimum of two cars in consist. What’s going on here? Could we the riders please have 2-car train consists as a minimum standard of train consists going forward for both the blue and the gold lines? Thank you.

Reply:  Because of the age of SacRT's Light Rail system, vehicles require routine maintenance. Light Rail staff has been utilizing Sunday's to perform preventative maintenance on the fleet when there is less demand to ride the system. We have heard from customers that one car trains are crowded on Sunday's and our operations team is examining the ridership data to ensure that we have enough vehicles to meet the demand and that customers have a comfortable riding experience.

Sacramento, CA:  Normally written Public Records Requests are delivered to the receptionist at the entity's main office. Where is the appropriate person located at RT?

Reply:  1400 29th Street is fine or you can mail them to SacRT Legal Department at 1400 29th Street.

Sacramento, CA:  Who do I contact to obtain an opportunity to inspect and perhaps obtain a copy of the current RT organization chart?

Reply:  The most recent budget document contains our org chart:

South Sacramento , CA:  What is the situation regarding revenues for the 2018-2019 fiscal year? What is the current revenue situation for the new fiscal year?

Reply:  Please reference the recently adopted FY20 operating budget at the link below.

Closing Remarks:

Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will take place on Friday, September 6, 2019.