Transit Talk with the General Manager

December 06, 2019
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

Welcome to the December 2019 edition of Transit Talk with the General Manager.
It has been an exciting year at SacRT and 2020 is shaping up to be just as wonderful. Before we get to what new services are in store, let me update you on what is happening this month.

SacRT's annual Holiday Bus is out and about operating on different routes. The Holiday Bus will operate through Wednesday, January 1, 2020.This year our chosen charity is the Sacramento Children's Home, which has been dedicated to caring for Sacramento's most vulnerable children and families since 1867. While the Holiday bus is free to passengers, we encourage everyone to drop a cash donation into the fare box, because one hundred percent of that money will benefit the Sacramento Children's Home. If you don't have cash, you can make a secure donation by texting GIVETOSCH to 44321.

For more information about the Sacramento Children's Home, visit
View the Holiday Bus schedule at to find out when the Holiday Bus will be traveling to a neighborhood near you!

Youth in grades TK through 12 can take advantage of SacRT's RydeFreeRT program during their holiday break. This is a great way for kids to get around on bus and light rail for free and give mom and dad a break from driving. Check with your school about the program or visit a local Sacramento library for a RydeFreeRT card and sticker. For more information about the program, visit

In an effort to encourage more people to try going car-free, SacRT and JUMP have teamed up to offer free rides on light rail for anyone that uses a JUMP bike as a first-mile/last-mile mobility solution to get to a SacRT light rail station. The offer is available from Monday, December 9 through Saturday, December 14. JUMP's electric assist bikes can be rented through the Uber app or the JUMP app. Plan your next trip on SacRT by visiting the online trip planner at

Take SacRT downtown for holiday festivities. The Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink is open through Monday, January 20 at 7th and K streets in downtown Sacramento.

For hours and additional information, visit and follow @DowntownIceRink. Ride light rail or any downtown bus route to the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink to receive $2 off the skate admission when you show your valid SacRT ticket or pass. For route and schedule information, visit or call 916-321-BUSS (2877).

Another event taking place at the Old Sacramento Waterfront is the annual New Year's Eve Sky Spectacular and SacRT will take you there for free starting at 4 p.m. Park at one of SacRT's 22 park-and-ride stations and take light rail downtown to enjoy the fireworks, children's programming, live music, dinner specials, and a variety of colorful street entertainment. To ride SacRT light rail for free, print or take a screenshot of the Free Ride Flyer at or

On Sunday, January 5, 2020, services changes will take place affecting bus Routes 15, 51, 88 and 161. Most are implemented to streamline bus service. This day also marks the start of the SacRT's new express airport bus service, Route 142! This new route between downtown Sacramento and the Sacramento International Airport will operate seven days a week. For questions or help with trip planning, call customer service at 916-321-BUSS (2877).

Starting on Monday, January 6, 2020, SacRT will launch six new SmaRT Ride service areas, and transition to a new and improved SmaRT Ride app.

The new SmaRT Ride service areas will launch on Monday, January 6, 2020:

o Arden
o Carmichael
o Downtown-Midtown
o Folsom
o Gerber-Calvine
o North Sacramento

Current SmaRT Ride customers that will need to download the new app, include the following service areas:

o Citrus Heights-Orangevale-Antelope
o Franklin-South Sacramento
o Rancho Cordova

Visit for additional information.

Continue to follow us on social media, online and Transit Talk with the GM to stay updated on all the new service planned in 2020, including bringing our ADA paratransit service in-house starting in March that will improve service quality and customer satisfaction, and implementing zero emission electric bus service from UC Davis Campus to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento in the spring..

I want to take this opportunity to personally thank our customers, Board of Directors, staff, advocates and community partners for making 2019 a successful and great year at SacRT!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! Now let's get to your questions.

Sacramento, CA:  Mr. Li – I think that offering free rides for certain events and days is a wonderful bonus for the community. That being said, changing the software on the Connect Card readers to reflect that might be helpful – I had a coworker who tapped her card twice on November 30 and was charged each time, as she was unaware that it was a free ride day. Better signage/software changes would benefit those using the system.

Reply:  Thank you for your comment and I share your concern. We are currently working with our Connect Card vendor to implement this functionality for future free ride days.

North Sacramento, CA:  I was previously a SuperShuttle rider going to/from Sacramento International Airport. They have since left Sacramento, back on Monday the 2nd was their last day. I did see that your company is FINALLY going to serve the airport - starting on January 5th. First of all, congratulations!! This is a huge relief for many of us. Where can I obtain an electronic edition of what eventually be the pocket timetable of your bus line. I believe I read online that this will be referred to as Route 142. Also, on a related note, for bus routes that will undergo schedule and perhaps route changes in January, when will the pocket timetables for all 01/05/20 be available at the Regional Transit Offices?

Reply:  Timetables for January service changes should be available the week before, and yes, they will be available at SacRT offices. We are creating a special timetable brochure for the Sacramento International Airport service (route 142), which will also be available the week before. All changes will be reflected on as well. The airport bus service will be available every 20 to 30 minutes from downtown Sacramento directly to the airport.

Carmichael, CA:  Thank you for having students ride free for El Camino and other schools in the San Juan district! Will this continue next school year too?

Reply:  You are welcome! Funding for the RydeFreeRT program is provided by participating cities and school districts, and will be in effect for one year from October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020. If the funding continues, we will be able to continue the program.

Sacramento, CA:  When will RT fix the broken and missing Connect Card readers at the 48th St. light rail station?

Reply:  I will direct this to our maintenance team and we will have devices out there soon. Thank you for sharing this information.

Sacramento, CA:  I want to commend Renee (name might be misspelled), who was driving the Route 38 on Thursday evening, Dec. 5th, picking up at 11t and J Street at 5:30. He was exceptionally professional and courteous to numerous riders with special needs.

Reply:  Thank you so much for your feedback! We will be sure to share this feedback with his supervisor!

Sacramento, CA:  I am a regular M-F 8-5 light rail commuter. I use and love the Alert SacRT app for its ease of reporting and receiving updates on light rail status. However, one thing that would make the app even better would be being able to set up dates/times that I want to receive push notifications. My phone will buzz late into the night or on weekends for notifications that aren’t pertinent to me. Any chance you can pass this request on to your app developers for a future update?

Reply:  Sure, we will pass it along for possible future updates. Thank you for the feedback.

Sacramento (Arden Arcade), CA:  Has SacRT considered adding a light rail car that is for bikes only? I believe the Phoenix Metro Light rail has a car like this that is meant specifically for bikes and can accommodate standing passengers. It just gets ridiculous at any time during rush hours to try and get my bike on the train when so many people are packed on the train.

Reply:  With our current trains we are unable to offer bike only cars. But, when we get our new low-floor light rail vehicles, they will be able to accommodate bikes much easier. The first four cars should be in service this summer with an additional 19 on the way.

Arden/Arcade Community, CA:  I use Regional Transit’s University/65th Street Station quite often for bus and bus to rail. I have also used this station for travel on MegaBus as well as FlixBus. With the recent real estate closing on the station property, I have read that construction in and around the station will make this a transit oriented community in and around 2022. As a result, it was recently brought to my attention that MegaBus is moving its stop to 6th Street between W and X Street, while FlixBus is moving to the “ALL SHUTTLES” stop at the Power Inn Station. Will Regional Transit have to make some temporary service changes to Routes 26, 38, 81, 82, and 87 to another light rail station until construction at 65th Street Station has been completed, and for how long - about two or so years?

Reply:  Yes, we'll need to detour our buses for at least certain phases of the construction. At this time, we expect to be able to access the station at all times. We may just need to use alternate entrances.

Sacramento, CA:  any plan on running the 82 line more often during peak hours in the morning and afternoon? Though the semester is ending, during school session it gets very cogested during rush hours.

Reply:  Yes, we have considered this, due to the strong ridership at peak hours on the #82, but we haven't taken it forward yet due to the additional cost. We continue to monitor the ridership on all of our bus routes to provide the best service possible.

Carmichael, CA:  I heard from a parent in the San Juan Unified school district that there might be future routes that would be scheduled to help with getting middle and high school students to school. Is this true? If so, what's the plan for this? We need help!

Reply:  Thank you for your comment. SacRT is always looking for ways to improve our service and I will have staff look specifically into ridership for the San Juan Unified school district. Adding service is always difficult to do on a tight operating budget. However, SacRT received funding to offer free rides to students through September 30th, 2020. The current funding received was to reimburse the District for lost revenues only and not to add additional services. We are currently evaluating the program and seeking funding for next year. It is possible that this could include allowances for additional services that would directly benefit our student riders.

SACRAMENTO, CA:  Hello, sir! Thank you for doing so many good things to improve public transit throughout the Sacramento area. I was wondering if, instead of the timetables on the overhead readout in the light rail stations, it could be replaced with information telling riders when the light rail for such-and-such a destination will arrive. For example, "Watt I-80 bound rain arriving in 2 minutes" or "Folsom bound train arriving in 5 minutes." Could this also be done at bus stops, similar to the system in San Francisco and other major world cities? It would be a lot more helpful to us riders. Thank you!

Reply:  Perhaps you haven't seen our new digital signs at 10 of our bus stop shelters. They show a countdown clock to the expected arrival of each bus. You can see one in action on J Street at 16th Street or on 7th Street at O Street. On light rail, we are still working on real-time train information. We were hoping to have it available in the coming months.

Carmichael, CA:  I live off Winding Way near Del Campo high school, where there are bus stop signs that have said that bus service has been temporarily suspended. These signs have been up for years, and there really isn't a bus that goes into this area any more. We could use one, though. Will this route come back?

Reply:  This is an area where we would definitely like to have more coverage with bus service, which we would look at closer if we are able to additional our funding levels to add service to that area.

Carmichael, CA:  There's a bus I'd like to consider taking downtown for my morning commute (the 129), but the closest stop has no sidewalk. Will this ever change? The lack of sidewalks is a big problem in general in the Carmichael and Arden-Arcade area. Does RT talk with the County about changing this so it's safer for pedestrians and bus riders?

Reply:  The lack of sidewalks and safe crossings in many parts of the County have been a major issue for us, limiting where we can add new bus service, and limiting access to the service we have. We work with the County on these matters, but they have limited resources and a significant backlog of needs. We continue to work closely with the County to be able to improve service for our riders.

Sacramento, CA:  Mr. Li, Thank you for all that you and Sac RT have been providing to help promote public transportation. With the new JUMP bike / RT share program going on, will that also be offered to the scooters affiliated with JUMP? Additionally, will this in the future also be offered with other organizations, like LIME?

Reply:  Thank you for your interest and support of SacRT! As you may have seen, we are big fans of micro-mobility options and have JUMP Bike hubs at a number of our light rail stations. The offer that starts on Monday, December 9 is only for JUMB Bikes. But, we hope that with continued partnerships, we can expand with other offers.

Sacramento, CA:  Hi Henry, A few weeks ago I was at the 29th St. Station, saw some people with carts filled with food from the nearby River City Food Bank refused permission to board. Apparently, the cart was too big or full, they are turned away with an evil smile from this lady conductor. Told the distraught lady with cart full of food to wait for the next train, when next train arrived, the driver said, he just received a call from the previous train to not let them aboard. I've seen people with quarter-ton mobility chairs, passengers with massive suitcases or large and tall bicycles that weren't turned away, they however were Caucasian passengers. I could not believe SacRT could hire such heartless, vindictive employees who work in concert with one another to make life even harder for the poor by calling on other trains to make sure a patron of the food bank with a large family cannot get a ride home, perhaps hoping their entire family will be treated with eating spoiled food. To my understanding, larger families gets a bit more food, which fills up their carts a bit more. Maybe you can speak with the previous SacRT General Manager--Mike Wiley as he is an officer of River City Food Bank's board of directors and he can inform food bank patrons going to food banks near train stations that their ride may be one-way trips if they receive more food and they are non-White. I am not sure if it is socioeconomic discrimination, income-class prejudices, or just simple racism. I'm telling people to not be too upset and simply to document and upload such things to a social media account and complain to SacRT, and if no change happens to their satisfaction to email the news departments of newspapers and TV networks with an explanation and links to the video encounter with contact information for an interview if requested. Please check your A/V surveillance and your radio recorded logs to verify what I have said and observed. Some train drivers may need re-training or should never have been around the less fortunate. Thankyou for your time.

Reply:  I am sorry to hear about your experience I will notify my operations staff to look into the issue and ensure we do a better job in the future. Thank you for reaching out and if you have any other future problems please feel free to contact our customer advocacy department at 916-557-4545 so we can immediately address the issue.

Sacramento, CA:  What is the geography of North Sacramento? Does that include any areas north of the American River?

Reply:  I am guessing you are referring to our SmaRT Ride service that will be expanding to the North Sacramento area on January 6. If you are, the service area map for North Sacramento will be available on our website, next week.

Sacramento, CA:  To increase ridership, RT recently improved service on some routes. For instance, in my neighborhood, the Route 38 now runs twice as often! Unfortunately, RT has not publicized the improvement. There’s been no effort to inform potential riders that the route is now running 2x more frequently. No notices at bus stops. No notices on the outside of busses. No notices to the neighborhood associations. No notices to businesses or government offices on the route. How will service improvements lead to increased ridership unless you inform potential riders about the improvements?

Reply:  Thank you for bringing this up. We actually sent teams out a few weeks ago to put 1,000 flyers out on the front doors of residents and we've also sent notices to the neighborhood association. The lead up to SacRT Forward was extremely busy, and we were very focused on making the transitions smooth for existing riders, but now that the transition has been made, we are going back to routes like these to do promotions exactly like you described.

SACRAMENTO, CA:  Hi Mr.Li Thank you for the continued improvements to Regional Transit. 1. Have you seen a marked increased in ridership and/or other improvements since the implementation of the sacrt forward route changes and the rydefree rt program for school students ? 2. I understand there may be a ballot proposal in 2020 for county transportation infrastructure. Will this be leveraged for RT projects and the long awaited light rail extension to airport ? 3. Are there other avenues to funding LRT extension to aiport ? 4. Would it be possible to consider adding or increasing route 11 service to every 20 or 15 minutes during peak times ? It seems like the route is serving a lot more passengers with the extension to city college plus more points for delays as it passes through the freeway and downtown area. Thank You

Reply:  Yes, when SacRT Forward launched we noticed a 14% increase for the initial launch and in the first month of the RydeFreeRT program we saw a 42% increase in student ridership. If additional funds are available for SacRT we have a number of future project plans including, light rail extensions, increased bus service and continuing the free fare for youth program. At this time, SacRT is looking at all funding possibilities for the light rail extension to the airport. In the meantime, we will begin express bus service to the airport from downtown Sacramento on January 5, 2020. We continue to monitor the performance of all of our bus routes, including route 11, but without additional funding, we are not able to increase frequency at this time.

Sacramento, CA:  Can RT offer a way to contact RT from a phone using instant messaging? Lots of companies offer instant messaging for customer service inquiries. It can be hard for riders to hear on a phone when they’re standing outside in traffic, waiting for a bus or light rail.

Reply:  An email to is our preferred way of filing complaints in a written fashion. If you need route or schedule information, we recommend for real-time bus tracking. For wayfinding, we are completely integrated with Google Maps.

CARMICHAEL, CA:  Realistically speaking,which will we see first:new rail cars or new buses(replacing the remaining Orions dating from 2008 or to a lesser extent 2006)?

Reply:  We hope to be able to have both! While SacRT has been striving to change and renew its sustainable fleet, we have to do so seamlessly while still providing outstanding service. We expect to have the first four low-floor light rail vehicles this summer with 19 additional vehicles to follow. We are also working on a plan to electrify our bus fleet. We will have six electric buses in service early next year.

Sacramento, CA:  Does RT have any plans to provide cover for rain and extreme heat at every bus and rail stop?

Reply:  Unfortunately SacRT has more than 3,000 bus stops, and it would be nearly impossible to have a shelter on each one. We try to focus on having shelters at busier stops, where space allows. Often times, there is not enough space on the sidewalk for a shelter to still allow accessibility for pedestrians.

Power Inn (Sacramento), CA:  With regards to SmaRTride, here is my question with a bit of historic background. Several years ago, and perhaps a decade or more ago, Regional Transit operated Route 8 “Power Inn.” The route alignment started at the Power Inn Station and operated vía Power Inn Road, Folsom Boulevard, Florin-Perkins Road, Fruitridge Road, and Power Inn Road back to the Power Inn Station. It was basically a rectangle route that predominantly made only right turns. While I don’t believe that you have any plans to return the route back to its original form, days, hours, or frequency of service, it is my hope that the area I described of the former Route 8 is a candidate for SmaRTride transit services. Is this a true or a false analysis when it comes to this part of Sacramento being in the discussion and approval for upcoming SmaRTride Transit Services? Thank you.

Reply:  Our grant for SmaRT Ride includes money for a South Sacramento zone in the vicinity of the old Route 8, so it is possible we may serve part of that area.

North highlands, CA:  Hey president Li. So, what’s the status on the double tracking for Light rail going to historic Folsom. Also, speaking of the gold line, what’s your estimate for the refurbished UTDC, formerly Santa Clara VTA, light rail vehicles going into service on that line. I was also wondering about the old old bus stops that were for routes like 100 along north loop and some others along diablo drive that say “no bus, temporarily no service” and other places?Thanks for all you do with SACRT.

Reply:  Thanks for your interest and support of SacRT! On the Folsom double tracking- we are currently working with our engineering and operations team alongside various state, local, and regional departments to ensure that we could get the design, environmental and project delivery phases going. Our gold line fleet continues to be in serviceable condition, but given new grant funding from the State, we may be able to fast track the purchase of replacement fleets. However, we need to make sure that this transition is seamless so that it does not affect service. We continue to evaluate all of our bus stops and routes to make sure our service meets the needs of the community. To that extent, we are hoping that those routes and stops could potentially be serviceable in the future and wish that with your continued partnership, that we are able to see where our community members need service the most. Thank you!

Sacramento, CA:  Question on the SacRT Mobile app for Android Phone bus tracking. Hello, I reached out to the Customer Service account inquiring about what happened to the SacRT Mobile App for Android but, as usual, my question went ignored. I'm hoping you can help. Will the SacRT Mobile App be rereleased? It's no where to be found on SacRT's website, nor in the Google Play Store. The phone app was very useful for tracking bus location/arrival times rather than having to go to the SacRT Mobile bus tracker website. I'd like to be able to re-download this on my phone again if possible (lost the app a couple months ago when upgrading phone). Thanks

Reply:  I think you're probably referring to the old Ride SacRT app. We have never had a "SacRT Mobile" app from the App Store. The old Ride SacRT app was for mobile ticketing and was replaced by our Zip Pass app when we got a new provider. The Ride SacRT app had a map and trip planning features, whereas Zip Pass is just a single-purpose payment app. We recommend our mobile site for the most accurate real-time information. For wayfinding, Google Maps is a great way to figure out which route to take.

CARMICHAEL, CA:  Does the planned Carmichael Smart ride zone follow postal boundaries or or does it venture into limited external destinations like the northeast service does?

Reply:  The Carmichael SmaRT Ride zone will be similar to the 95608 zip code boundaries, but not identical. Postal code boundaries are based on mail delivery considerations, so they don't necessarily have any bearing on where we run SmaRT Ride service. But in this case, there happens to be a lot of similarities.

Power Inn Business Area (Sacramento), CA:  Will the rectangle of the Power Inn Business Alliance area bounded by Folsom on the North, Florin-Perkins on the East, Power Inn on the West and Fruitridge on the South be a new zone/area for SmaRTride, and if not, when will SacRT likely look at this rectangular area again for being a candidate for future SmaRTride service?

Reply:  Please see my earlier response on the "Route 8" question. Thank you!

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will take place on Friday, January 3, 2020. Happy Holidays!