Transit Talk with the General Manager

October 04, 2019
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

Welcome to the October 2019 edition of Transit Talk with the General Manager.

On October 1 SacRT began its FreeRydeRT (Free Ride RT) program for youth in grades TK - 12. Thanks to partnerships with the cities of Sacramento, Citrus Heights, Folsom and Rancho Cordova, as well as several school districts within our service area, SacRT is able to provide free rides on SacRT buses, trains and SmaRT Ride on-demand microtransit service to area youth. Schools began issuing school ID cards and free ride stickers last month and for those schools that do not provide school ID cards, they will provide SacRT RydeFreeRT cards and stickers. The cards and stickers are also available at all Sacramento public libraries. If your child's school has not issued a school ID card or sticker yet, please contact your school district office for distribution information.

This program will provide over 200,000 students the opportunity to ride any time within SacRT's service area from October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020. If funding is available, we plan to continue this program beyond 2020. For more information, visit

We have received a lot of positive feedback about our new bus network as well as comments and questions. We take all your comments for improvement to heart and will look at making adjustments in spring 2020. For information about the new bus routes, visit To submit comments and questions about the new bus routes, you can participate in the "SacRT in Your Neighborhood" online forum at, or email us at

SacRT's Customer Call Center has expanded hours to help answer passenger questions about the new bus network. The new hours are Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. The expanded hours will be in effect until December and extended if needed.

UC Davis Health has been a SacRT partner for many years providing free shuttle service to and from the 39th Street Station to the Medical Campus. Because of this ongoing long-standing partnership and strong tie to the region, the SacRT Board of Directors adopted to change the name of the 39th Street Station to the 39th Street/UC Davis Health Station. Look for the new station name on all supporting materials, including SacRT timetables, maps, signage and other resources.

SacRT is always looking for ways to make the first mile, last mile trip to and from light rail easier. Along those lines, I am pleased to announce that JUMP has installed its latest bike charging hub at the Broadway Station, adding to a growing network of charging hubs for the shared e-bikes in the Sacramento region. JUMP's electric bikes can be rented through the Uber app or the JUMP app, and users can find current charging hub locations in-app.

You have an opportunity to provide your comments during the Unmet Transit Needs Hearing taking place at 2 p.m. on Monday, October 28 at SacRT's Auditorium located at 1400 29th Street. Comments on all Sacramento County transit services will be accepted at this hearing including: e-tran, SacRT, South County Transit/Link, etc. For additional information, contact Barbara Vaughanbechtold at -916-340-6226 or

Now let's get to your questions.

Sacramento, CA:  Two years ago, your staff were working on a Tracker app for light rail that was supposed to be released for use last summer. What is the status? An app similar to one used by Super Shuttle - where you can track the vehicle coming to pick you up on a map - would be soooooo helpful to light rail users. It a train is stuck somewhere along the line and we can see it on a map, we have options to get to another train that is moving along or look for alternative transportation. This is such a helpful tool!

Reply:  Thanks for the follow up question. SacRT staff is working internally on the SacRT Tracker for light rail. We are currently automating the system and expect to have it available to the public in the next couple of months.

Carmichael, CA:  When bus route 82 was realigned, the route was changed to go down Whitney Avenue, right in front of Winston Churchill Middle School. Which is great, except that there are no bus stops for those kids for half a mile on either side of the school. The stop at Whitney and Walnut is at a very busy intersection, and there are no sidewalks on Whitney for a quarter mile from the intersection. The stop at Whitney and Concetta (which is the one suggested by RT) is a quarter mile from the nearest crosswalk, but there is no sidewalk between Mission and Gabilan on the north side of Whitney - so a kid wanting to ride the route 82 bus westbound has to choose between crossing without a crosswalk at a place where cars routinely go 50 mph, or walking along that same road without a sidewalk. Neither stop is convenient or safe. Does RT have any plans to put a stop at Whitney and Mission or, better yet, and Whitney and Foster (where there is a traffic light and a human crossing guard at peak times) so that these kids can ride the bus safely? If so, when? If not, why not?

Reply:  Thank you for your question. We are very excited about our Free Ride program and look forward to better serve our students. SacRT intends on adding bus stops on Whitney Ave to serve Winston Churchill Middle School. However, ADA upgrades are necessary prior to the installation of the stops. We are proposing a temporary detour of route 82 that will allow us to drop off closer to the school at Whitney and Mission. This change will be effective October 27th while we work on a permanent solution on Whitney Ave. Please stay tuned for further information

Sacramento, CA:  The road striping on 12th street needs to be refreshed - the Left Turn Only paint is worn off at F street and J street in the lane where the light rail tracks are; I now see people failing to turn from those lanes often, which is dangerous for them and the cars in the lane next to them.

Reply:  Thank you for notifying us. We will coordinate with the city to address this issue.

Sacramento, CA:  Why don't you use the digital signs to provide much more helpful (and less confusing) information to your riders? Something simple such as "next train is arriving in 3 minutes" would be GREAT!

Reply:  Great question and we agree. We hope that in the very near future we will be able to display real-time arrival of light rail trains as opposed to their scheduled arrival. This will be a tremendous improvement for the rider.

Sacramento, CA:  Do you (or an RT rep) ever ride light rail to observe how the "driver" drives? There are a few that are absolutely horrible - either going way to fast or hitting the brakes HARD at every stop. Some of us have actually exited the train to catch the next one after getting slammed around the cars. You should absolutely have unannounced critiques of your conductors.

Reply:  Yes. It is extremely important for me to ride the system and understand what the customers are experiencing. I ride a number of times each week and I am always observing the operator driving and the cleanliness and security of our trains, buses and stations. You are always welcome to share your riding experience with our customer service department, especially if you are experiencing hard stops.

South Sacramento , CA:  Are you planning any more light rail stations to be named after UC Davis?

Reply:  UC Davis has a long history of running a shuttle from the 39th Street Light Rail Station, which makes it a logical choice for changing the station name to 39th Street/UC Davis Health Station. We are hoping that similar sponsorship will materialize in the future.

Folsom, CA:  I took the ~7:30 pm train from downtown to Folsom last week. There were only 3 of us on the entire train. I live in Folsom and have observed that there are only a few riders after 7 pm. Most cars have 0-2 people in them after 7 pm. Why not save money and wear and tear on the train cars and only offer service after 7 pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings? The money saved could be used to clean the cars or extend the line to 2 tracks to Sutter Street.

Reply:  The Folsom late-night service is still a relatively new service improvement. We only started implementing late night trips last summer, and while there may not be very high ridership, there are a good number of passengers that rely on having the later service to Folsom, especially on Golden 1 Center event nights. This service is being utilized by commuters who previously had to worry about being stranded downtown without a return trip home. Additionally, we have seen a number of recreational trips being utilized by the Folsom late night service. We will analyze demand and adjust the car consist if appropriate.

Sacramento, CA:  Have they released the old bus stop signs? I sent in my name when asked to about getting one. I then received an email that Oct 1, they were going to announced where to pick them up and they were going to be first come, first served. I have not heard anything yet and I been checking since I didn't one to miss out on getting the one where I commuted on that bus for 25 years.

Reply:  Not yet. We received more requests than we anticipated and are still compiling the signs. Once that is completed, we will contact people individually to come to the SacRT Customer Sales and Service Center for pick up.

Sacramento, CA:  Whatever happened to service to the Sacramento International Airport? Is it for sure happening Winter 2020, or Spring 2020 service changes? I would be eager to go there, but once an hour on another transit provider is not good frequency, and secondly, I for one, would be interested to going to the Sacramento International Airport from locations that are not named “Downtown Sacramento.” Are you considering serving the airport, and even just as important, is airport service being considered from areas other than Downtown Sacramento, which already is covered by another service provider since 1997?

Reply:  We are progressing foward on service to Sacramento International Airport. We were partially funded for airport service last year and have been working to cobble together the rest of the funds to launch the service. I am hopeful we will be able to launch this much needed service sometime during the first half of 2020. Right now the plan is to have the route travel from downtown to the airport, but we will analyze demand and see if there is a need for additional routes to other areas in the region.

Sacramento, CA, CA:  I understand that there are new or gently use train cars in the process of being obtained in about 2 years. What is the plan in the meantime to provide safe and reliable service to the ridership? Two years is a long time. Train cars currently are not safe or reliable. Almost every day there is some kind of disruption in on-time service and sufficient number of cars for safety of other riders. I

Reply:  We are very excited about our light rail modernization effort that will transition to low floor light rail vehicles. While we wait for the delivery of new vehicles, SacRT maintenance staff is doing a tremendous job to ensure the vehicles are operating reliably and that we are operating full consists during commute hours. Safety and security of the customers remains our top priority, and we apologize for the disruptions you have experienced. The new cars should make for a very enjoyable riding experience.

Citrus Heights, CA:  What is the best way to report bus stop signs that need updating or correcting due to the SacRT Forward changes from September?

Reply:  The simplest way to report bus stop signs that need updating is to download the Alert SacRT app and report the issue through the app. Of course you are always able to contact SacRT's customer service department to report any issues.

Sacramento, CA:  I submitted a request on the very first day that the announcement went out regarding the old signs up for grabs. I was told by customer advocacy that they would be available by October 1st. Is there a delay or did RT rescind the offer?

Reply:  Due to an overwhelming response, staff is still compiling the old signs. Once that is complete, we will contact people individually and signs can be picked up at the SacRT Customer Sales and Service Center.

Elk grove , CA:  I read somewhere that sac rt had purchased new modern light rail trains from Siemens. When new trains become operational, will the commute be faster and any special amenities built in?

Reply:  We have conditionally awarded a contract with Siemens to purchase 23 new light rail vehicles and options to replace nearly the entire fleet. We are hoping to have the first four vehicles delivered as soon as next Spring, with additional cars being delivered in 2022. The vehicles will be low-floor, to better accommodate persons with disabilities and bicycles The purchase of the vehicles are a part of our Light Rail Modernization effort which also includes upgrades to all of our stations, track infrastructure improvements to allow 15 minute service frequency to the Folsom light rail stations and upgrades to traffic signals that will allow for limited stop service, which will improve travel time.

Elk Grove, CA:  When would you combine all your apps into one app for seamless technology?

Reply:  We understand integrating the various apps would be beneficial to the riding customers. We are looking into how we can do so.

FAIR OAKS, CA:  I submitted this question after the deadline last month. I take the Gold Line train during the weekdays. I've noticed many times when a person is given a violation ticket for not producing a valid ticket faire upon request, he/she is still allowed to continue riding aboard the train. Why is this? Shouldn't the person be escorted out of the train?

Reply:  We have tried to strike a balance in our need to enforce fare violators and the impact it has on our other customers and the communities in which we serve. We have found that if we force the violator to de-board immediately it often leads to additional confrontation, which is disruptive to the other customers Furthermore once off the train these subjects typically continue to be a problem at the station or in the community in which they get dropped off. Although this isn't a perfect solution, from a policy perspective it has given us the best possible results. I do understand that this may be offensive to those who ride our system legally but please know that our police services actively follows up on these violators to ensure accountability

Sacramento, :  I'm totally in favor of the students receiving free rides, although I do wonder where that funding came from. Hopefully RT is not going to increase fares to cover the costs? Also, with more students, teenagers, etc. riding the trains and buses, I hope Security will enforce their 'rules' about no food, loud music, etc. and really make an effort to have this be a positive for us regulars. NOBODY wants to be stuck on a train with a bunch of loudmouth teeny boppers cursing and causing trouble (as many, not most do), so PLEASE RT, make sure you monitor this new program and make changes if/when needed! Thank you!

Reply:  SacRT is very excited about the Ryde Free RT program. The program is funded by the cities of Sacramento, Citrus Heights, Folsom and Rancho Cordova as well as select public school districts. SacRT will be able to offer free rides to over 200,000 students in our service area due to the generous donations received at no cost to the District. Security remains a high priority for SacRT and we are monitoring this aspect of the program carefully. Passengers will soon see new signage posted on all buses and trains reminding them of proper etiquette while riding.

Rancho Córdova, CA:  With what appeared to be a successful launch of “SacRT Forward,” how has the new bus network been perceived by riders? Is it somewhat too soon to tell? I could totally understand if it is, due to the fact that it hasn’t even been a full month, just yet. Lastly, are you considering another major service change to any degree in the Spring of 2020? What then, if anything is Regional Transit possibly contemplating for Spring and/or Summer 2020?

Reply:  SacRT launched the new bus network on September 8th and the feedback we have received has been mostly positive. People are enjoying the later bus spans, increased frequency and the additional weekend service. We will be continually assessing what is working and what is not with the new network and will make minor tweaks early next year. Any major service changes would be implemented in the Spring of 2020, but we have not made any decisions just yet.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Please look into adding more bus stops between Coyle Ave and Greenback Lane for the recently revised section of Route 25. It is a rather long walk between these 2 main streets.

Reply:  Thank you for your feedback. I will have our operations and planning departments look into installing a bus stop to serve Route 25.

CARMICHAEL, CA:  What I have noticed on some of the new route alignments is that some of the stops are farther apart than normal:First,the 25 segment along Dewey/Van Maren has a lot of leftover stops from the long gone(since 2010)94,but only those at the Greenback intersection were reactivated.Second,the new 93 lacks stops between Andrea/Diablo and Antelope/Daly.Third,the new 84 north of Antelope only has intermediary stops at North Loop and Elverta/Walerga and even then the decently located southbound stop in front of Antelope Marketplace(along Walerga)is mismarked in a less-than-optimal location on Google Maps/Nextstop(Walerga/Big Cloud which lacks sidewalks/turnouts in the southbound direction)and that kinda confused me.On top of Google Map/Nextstop correcting things on their end,will the spacing issues on the new alignments be addressed?Also on Wednesday,a number of bus trips were scrapped and I just hope this was only because of RT still trying to recruit new operators and not because of the older buses(2600/2800 series)starting to age mechanically.

Reply:  There are a number of bus stop issues that are still outstanding from SacRT Forward; all of which are being addressed between internal SacRT staff, and in coordination with the City and County of Sacramento. Some new bus stops are in locations that either need to be constructed from scratch, or brought up to ADA standards, which may take longer to complete. If you need more specific information about a particular stop, please contact Customer Advocacy with the details so we can research it and get you an updated status. The bus cancellations on Wednesday were most likely due to a shortage of operators on that particular day.

Sacramento, CA:  The new changes last month made it inconvenient to make my connection from light rail to bus, whereas before I nearly always made the connection since I only had 1/2 a block to walk. You now removed the Capitol Mall stop for #86 & #88 buses and I miss it by just seconds most mornings. Is there any chance the schedules can be changed by just 2-3 minutes? Also, the new stop on L street is NOT very well lit and has nowhere near the amount of traffic as Capitol Mall did. That is not the best stop location, especially once the rains start, since there is NO cover at all. Please reconsider some changes!

Reply:  Thank you for forwarding this information. The Planning and Scheduling departments are taking a look at these kinds of issues in order to make changes and improvements where we can. Please provide the details of your trip to Customer Advocacy, and they will record it into a database and forward the request to Planning. Please be sure to include the route(s), trip times, and any other pertinent information so staff can research the issue and see about making adjustments.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Route 129’s north end currently leaves us stranded if we want to connect to/from other routes. Before, it was easy to make connections to Route 25. Can 129 be extended to Coyle or even Greenback so we can also connect with Route 1?

Reply:  Route 129 is a peak-only route that operates only 2 trips in the morning, and two trips in the afternoon/evening. Passengers that use this service are typically not transferring to other routes; most a.m. riders are using it to get Downtown, and afternoon riders are taking back home. If you would like to request the route be extended to Coyle or Greenback, you may send that to Customer Advocacy and they will forward the request to Planning staff to look into.

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will take place on Friday, November 1, 2019.