Transit Talk with the General Manager

January 03, 2020
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the January 2020 edition of Transit Talk with the General Manager.

The New Year marks the beginning of SacRT express bus service to the Sacramento International Airport. On Sunday, January 5, along with the January services changes affecting bus Routes 15, 51, 88 and 161, new route 142 express airport bus service will begin. This new service will operate between downtown Sacramento and the Sacramento International Airport seven days a week from 3:24 a.m. until midnight. For questions or help with trip planning, call customer service at 916-321-BUSS (2877).

A press conference celebrating the start of bus route 142 will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, January 6 at the bus stop on Capitol Mall at 7th Street.

Also, starting on Monday, January 6, 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 that will launch are:

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

Current SmaRT Ride customers will need to download the new SacRT SmaRT Ride app starting today includes:

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

Visit for additional information.

A press conference celebrating the start of the new service area and the new app will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, January 14 at the SacRT Customer Service and Sales Center located at 1225 R Street (adjacent to the 13th Street Station).

Looking further into 2020 you can expect new ADA paratransit service transitioning in-house in spring 2020. We expect the change will improve service quality and customer satisfaction.

We also plan to implement a zero emission electric bus service from UC Davis Campus to UC Davis Medical Center in April 2020.

Now let's get to your questions.

Sacramento, CA:  I understand the SmaRT Ride Downtown will start next week. I live at the Seavey Cir Apts. I called SacRT yesterday, and the customer service rep. told me it is "corner-to-corner" service and that I had to walk to Q and 5th (CalPERS) to ride the SmaRT Ride shuttle. That is more than 1.5 miles away. I think she may be mistaken. I looked at the Map. According to that map, isn't there a "virtual bus stop" near the Health Professionals High School? Since it is school grounds, shouldn't the stop be a block or so AWAY from the school? Can you tell me EXACTLY which "CORNER" I would need to go to, to wait for the new shuttle service, an exact CROSS STREET CORNER location, please?

Reply:  You will not have to walk to CalPERS. The Downtown Smart Ride will be routed essentially to your home address, although if you live on a dead-end you may be directed to walk out to the main street, e.g., 5th Street. We will have an area where the stop locations are limited. If you are going or coming from anywhere north of S Street or west of 20th Street, you will probably be directed to a hot spot. This is to try to consolidate some of the activity in the busy downtown area and make sure vehicles are available for the rest of the area, so the neighborhoods like yours have greater availability and better response times. Thank you and happy new year!

CA:  Hello Mr Li. I was not able to make the Dec 7 event to receive a bus stop sign. Will there be another, on a weekday perhaps? Thank you.

Reply:  Sorry you couldn't make it on December 7, but yes, you can still pick up a sign at the Customer Service and Sales Center located adjacent to the 13th Street light rail station. Give our customer service team a call and we would be more than happy to share one to you. Happy new year!

Carmichael, CA:  I'm very excited about the SmartRide option for the Arden and Carmichael areas. I really want to be able to use the service to get to the Arden-Arcade library on Marconi (they have check-outs of cameras in their "Library of Things" that the others don't) -- but based on your maps, I live in the Carmichael footprint and the library is in the Arden footprint. Can I get to the Arden library with SmartRide? It's really not that far -- in fact, going to the other side of the Carmichael map is much farther.

Reply:  If your destination is in another zone, then you will have to book two separate rides, or use Smart Ride to get to a fixed-route bus. In order for Smart Ride to be available to assist people in accessing the system from neighborhoods that don't have fixed-route bus, we are consistently looking at how far people can take it, and make sure it is still efficient and seamless as possible for folks of all of walks of life. Otherwise, for the nice price of $2.50, the buses would be monopolized by people using Smart Ride for long-distance trips across town, when that is what the full-size bus routes are for. I know this may not be the case for your particular trip, but I hope that makes sense! I'll check with my planning team and figure out the most efficient way for you to get to your destination. Hope you're having a prosperous start to the new year so far.

Carmichael, CA:  Can I use SmartRide to get to El Camino High School from my apartment (near Winding and Manzanita)?

Reply:  Your apartment is in the Carmichael zone and El Camino High School is in the Arden zone, so you will need to make a transfer from Smart Ride (or Route 25) to Route 23. Please see my earlier response about why we have separate zones, to help ensure adequate capacity and response times. Thanks for chiming in and hope you're having a good Friday so far.

Citrus heights, CA:  I am glad regional transit finally has a bus going to the airport. When we are able to have funding to have light rail go to the airport where will light rail tracks go And that will Sacramento city Council woman Angelique Ashby’s concerns be addressed with regards to congestion With regards to light rail tracks?

Reply:  Thank you for your question and happy new year! SacRT is working with the County and the City of Sacramento, the State, and Federal partners to look at additional funds to build the light rail. Should there be a measure that passes locally, rest assured that we will hit the ground running to make sure that light rail connection is built. But for now, please enjoy the buses to the airport and we will make sure that they run efficiently, cleanly, and safely every 20 minutes. We anticipate the light rail tracks to go through Natomas, the Truxel corridor, and connecting to major housing. We're working with Council woman Ashby to make sure her concerns on congestion are addressed; the more people we get riding the buses, microtransit and light rail, the less traffic we should get!

North Sacramento, CA:  This morning, the 6:01am Blue Line train from Arden/Del Paso to Cosumnes River College operated as a 1-car train. It was extremely packed too. I’ve noticed a trend of Regional Transit doing this on Holidays and on Sundays too. Is operating 1-car trains now becoming a trend in the Sacramento Regional Transit District? I sure hope that in 2020 that Regional Transit will put “customers first” in everything that they do, including, but not limited to making 1-car trains a practice of the past. I would recommend that light rail lines be a minimum of 2-car trains at all times, yet at other times that the district use discretion at when it would be appropriate to use 3-car or 4-car trains. In closing, I hope that 1-car trains are now so last decade. Would you have time to comment on my “Transit Talk” Post here, today? Thank you.

Reply:  I'm sorry if you experienced overcrowding this morning. We normally try to get adequate number of cars on each train, but sometimes the cars need to be taken out for service, maintenance, or repairs. We try to avoid the busiest times, and Friday after New Years would not normally be super busy at 6:01 a.m., but if you experienced overcrowding, please accept our apologies for that. We are working hard to get money for replacement vehicles to improve our ability to deploy a full fleet. This has been a long-term challenge for us, as light rail vehicles can cost over $4 million each! But thankfully, we have funding for a first round of replacement LRVs.

Citrus heights, CA:  With ParaTransit coming in the house as of April of this year, if there’s ever a time, when people need to be picked up at midnight, will that be possible? For example, at the fair and on New Year’s Eve?

Reply:  Normally, we won't be operating SacRT Go (the name for our in-house paratransit service) outside of the places and times when we operate fixed-route bus or light rail service. We typically operate special service for New Years Eve, so we will probably have a paratransit option as well. We'll definitely keep you posted and try our best to serve you!

Arden/Arcade, CA:  Happy New Year and Happy Birthday today to Henry Li. My question is regarding bus service to Sacramento International Airport. I have read the promotional activities happening already with regards to airport express bus service from Downtown that starts on Sunday. Can you tell me and my Arden/Arcade neighbors if the Regional Transit District plans on other airport service from other locations in the service area like Arden/Arcade? We have a bus line, Route 13, which travels up to Del Paso Road and El Centro Road in North Natomas, but it stops its route approximately two miles from the airport. I was hoping that this route could be extended to the airport from Del Paso and El Centro in North Natomas. I have had to use “ride hailing” services just to go the other two miles because the driver refused to go enroute to the airport. I think, for this new year, that this needs to be changed. Hopefully Downtown to the Airport for Regional Transit is just a start, and not the only bus service solution. Would I be correct regarding the question I brought up earlier? I sure hope so, and am eagerly awaiting your answer in this forum. Thank you, and congratulations on the beginning of airport service. It’s been a long time coming.

Reply:  We get a lot of requests to extend Route 13 the extra couple miles to the airport. Unfortunately, there is a cost to that, and it's not an area we are prioritizing just yet- but we are still looking in the next quarter to see if it is feasible. For our initial launch of airport service, we felt the most useful and cost-effective approach would be to start with an airport express from downtown, where we have the most connections with the rest of our system and there are other supporting services and facilities, but were we to get additional sales tax revenue, we would probably be looking at extending Route 13 as well. Thanks for your interest in bus service to the airport!

Sacramento , CA:  Where can you catch the bus in downtown to take it to the Airport? Thank you,

Reply:  Please use the web link below to find pick up times and locations for the Airport Express bus service launching on 1/5/2020. There are plenty of options! You can even catch it as close to the freeway from L and 4th St. (by Macys). Thanks!

Sacramento, CA:  Good Afternoon Henry. Happy New Year and Happy Birthday. Would today’s “Transit Talk” be appropriate to discuss what the district is planning in terms of participating in the “2020 March for The Dream” event happening on Monday, January 20th? In reading your introductory comments, I couldn’t find anything being talked about on this topic. Thank you.

Reply:  The Capitol March for the Dream is taking place on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, Monday, January 20. Due to construction taking place at the Sacramento Convention Center the march will start and end at Sacramento City College, where the Expo will also be held. I encourage everyone who plans to march and/or attend the Expo to take light rail to Sac City College. It's convenient and free for the day!

South Sacramento, CA:  On January 6th, you’re introducing six new SmaRTride Zones. Unfortunately, I didn’t see my area in the zones. Specifically, the area that my workplace is located in. During the workday, my zone would roughly be 65th Street to the West, Folsom Boulevard to the North, South Watt Avenue to the East, and either Fruitridge Road or Florin Road to the South. A good portion, but not all of this area was previously served by fixed Route 61, but in September 2019, was eliminated due to our area mainly being industrial and not very transit supportive in terms of existing land uses. What would I need to do to get Regional Transit to serve this area by way of becoming a SmaRTride enterprise zone either later in 2020, or early in 2021? Thank you for looking into this for me and the surrounding residences/businesses in roughly the boundaries that I have described here. I appreciate it.

Reply:  We have plans for a zone in your area as part of our three-year microtransit project. Stay tuned for details and we appreciate your continued support in interest.

Rancho Cordova , CA:  Hello Henry Li, so I had a question. Are the new low floor light rail cars from Siemens or not? Thanks Jake

Reply:  We're still looking to complete the procurement of the replacement vehicles... very close, but stay tuned!

Sacramento, CA:  Hi Henry... The Bus Stop on Broadway & 5th is not often used, but occasionally in the morning need to go to the Sac City College area. Whenever stand next to that stop, it triggers an ARMED, fat, angry white security guy to leave his office at the ABC10 TV station and come out to intimidate me--he appeared irritated/angry he had to leave his comfortable office to do the walking exercise. With his hands near his weapon, he'd stare at me until the bus arrives. There is likely motion activated alarm/cameras pointed at the bus stop that triggers his "response". Didn't want to get shot and/or killed, so now wait for the bus at the Viet. Restaurant across the street going north instead, as I am older, and am able to control my anger, and take #11, then the #62, adding an extra hour to my trip. Seems sooner or later, the security guy will create a confrontation with a younger, more hot headed individual where he'll justify shooting and/or killing him/her. Perhaps you can speak with the TV station management or moving the bus stop further south or eliminating it altogether.

Reply:  Please download the application Alert Sac RT. You can communicate directly with Regional Transit Police Services. The next time this happens please notify RTPS through the app or call 916 556-0275 and request a police officer to respond. I take your saefty very seriously and wan to ensure that we address this.

Sacramento, CA:  I'm wondering what can be done about the smoking that happens at the light rail stations. I was told smoking is prohibited in the bus shelters, but what about the rest of the bus stop areas at the light rail? I see drivers standing in front or to the side of their buses smoking. The only thing that does is hide them from view. The smoke still affects people nearby. Also, should security be smoking while monitoring the station? I realize that in some places the sidewalk is right next to the station, but not everywhere is that true. Also, what is the point of a fine if all the security guards do is move them a couple of feet away?

Reply:  Smoking is not allowed in light rail stations. If a station is situated next to an alley such as 16th Street light rail station you may see a security guard on a break smoking in the allowed area (the alley). Sac RT has a phone application- Alert Sac RT which will give you direct access to Regional Transit Police Services. You can also call RTPS at 916 566 0275 and advise of a smoker. Each light rail station has a public address system that RTPS dispatch can talk to the smoker and tell them to extinguish their cigarette. I suggest you take a photo of any bus operators smoking next to a bus and text it in to Alert Sac RT. This will be followed up by a supervisor. Thanks for letting us know.

Sacto, CA:  When will SacRT start inhouse para transit? Meeesh

Reply:  We're still working on finalizing the implementation of our in-house paratransit/ADA accessible services called SacRT Go. We're hoping to have major updates this upcoming quarter, so please stay tuned.

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will take place on Friday, February 7, 2020.