Transit Talk with the General Manager

November 06, 2020
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Welcome to the November 2020 edition of Transit Talk with the General Manager.

On October 26th, the SacRT Board of Directors unanimously and enthusiastically approved the SacRT Strategic Plan for Fiscal Year 2021-2025, which will serve as the guiding vision for our post-pandemic strategic success. This strategic plan details SacRT's goals and articulates the agency's vision and commitment to improving the customer experience, pursuing operational excellence, creating meaningful partnerships with the Sacramento community, and for continuing to develop an engaged workforce.

Last month, the SacRT Board of Directors also approved the Zero-Emission Bus Rollout Plan, which will transition SacRT’s bus fleet to 100% zero-emission by 2040. The California Air Resource Board (CARB) Innovative Clean Transit (ICT) regulation requires all public transit agencies in the State of California to transition from conventional buses (compressed natural gas, diesel, etc.) to zero-emission buses (battery-electric or fuel cell electric) by 2040. The regulation requires a progressive increase of an agency’s new bus purchases to be zero-emission buses (ZEBs) based on their fleet size.

For more information about SacRT’s Zero-Emission Bus Rollout Plan and rollout schedule, visit

With the start of the holiday season just a couple of weeks away, SacRT will once again spread holiday cheer by providing free rides on the holiday-themed holiday bus. This year’s charity is the Food Literacy Center whose mission is to inspire kids to eat their vegetables. They teach children in low-income elementary schools cooking, nutrition, gardening and active play to improve their health, environment and the economy.

In lieu of fare, passengers can donate cash in the fare box or donate online to the Food Literacy Center at

SacRT has partnered with AmeriCorps to make sure everyone who needs a mask gets one. The AmeriCorps members will be at various light rail stations and transit centers for the next several weeks handing out free masks and information about SacRT service initiatives.

Make sure to have a mask or face covering, and please continue to comply with the California Department of Public Health's guidance that requires face coverings or masks while riding public transportation. Remember, wearing is caring. Learn more about our COVID-19 precautions at

Now let's get to your questions!

Sacramento, CA:  What does the impending Fall General Election results mean for the Sacramento Regional Transit District from President/Vice President, all the way down to local election results? More and more I am seeing in my notifications that the United States will more likely than not have “President Elect Joe Biden” with a swearing-in and transfer of power from the current President to Biden/Harris on Wednesday, January 20th.

Reply:  The next Administration will have to confront economic challenges caused from the pandemic. Public transportation investment is a proven method for jump-starting the economy and we are hopeful that all will come together to support a stimulus package focused on infrastructure investment.

Elk Grove, CA:  What will be SacRT's role in Elk Grove in the upcoming years? I've heard some talk about more expansion into Elk Grove with bussing and light rail and would love some concrete details on what the future of SacRT looks like in Elk Grove. EG's traffic is always a problem, and in my opinion we desperately need to emphasize public transportation alternatives to using the car. Thanks!

Reply:  SacRT currently is the operator of Elk Grove's E-Tran services under a contract. The City Council and SacRT Board have formed a 2X2 Committee to discuss future partnerships, including potential annexation into the SacRT District. Expanding light rail into Elk Grove is certainly one of the agencies top capital project priorities.

Sacramento, CA:  Will SmartRide every be expanded to the weekend? Thanks!

Reply:  At the current moment, SmaRT Ride is a weekday service. We are looking into options that would allow for operations on the weekend, but we would need additional funding partnerships to make it a reality.

Sacramento, CA:  How does Prop 22 affect Regional Transit operators going forward. Will their jobs, pay and benefits take a hit? And what is RT doing to secure the future of transportation in Sacramento? Safety and cleanliness should be a major focus especially with bringing in new passengers. Passengers don’t feel safe at major light rail platforms and bus stops due to unsanitary stations and not 24/7 security for safety of passengers. How is RT going to change the culture and safety?

Reply:  Prop 22 will not effect SacRT Operators who have a collective bargaining agreement with SacRT through 2023. Clean, safe and convenient have been my top priorities since coming to SacRT. While we have made great strides in improving our security, including receiving the Gold Standard for Security from the TSA in 2019 and the Gold Award for Rail Security from APTA in 2020, we can always do more to improve our safety culture and passenger experience.

Hollywood Park , CA:  What are the long-term financial implications on sac RT giving the pandemic and if state workers telecommute indefinitely?

Reply:  It is likely that state workers will continue to telecommute through the middle of next year. While the telecommuting and stay-at-home orders have hampered SacRT's ridership, we continue to carry approximately 40% of normal ridership levels and have transported nearly six million trips since the pandemic began. This underlines the important lifeline service we are providing to so many in our community.

Sacramento, CA:  I ride the blue line to Watt/I-80 as part of my weekday commute to work, where I transfer to Route 26. “On paper” I arrive at Watt/I-80 at 5:59am, and my route 26 leaves “on paper” at 6:01am. This is a really tight connection that I struggle with on weekday mornings. Is there a way that SacRT can get weekday blue line trains to arrive at Watt/I-80 earlier than 5:59am so that our bus connections up on top are not so tight? If I could do this later in the day, I would’ve taken a train that doesn’t have as tight of a connection. For example, a 17-minute connection is better than a 2-minute connection. That being said, I was told that currently, I am on the earliest train possible, and that for now, I have no earlier ride time options when it comes to the blue line arriving any earlier on weekdays than 5:59am at Watt/I-80. Hopefully we can work together to change this option. Thank you.

Reply:  Thank you for riding and thanks for the feedback. I will send this over to our Planning and Scheduling Departments for consideration.

Sacramento, CA:  When will the upgraded ticket machines at certain light rail stations have the Connect Card feature enabled? Thank you!

Reply:  At this time we are working with the fare vending machine vendor to complete installation of the new machines first. Integration with Connect Card will come at a later date after all installations have been completed.

Carmichael, CA:  Greetings: It was brought to my attention while recently riding the SmaRTride shuttle in Carmichael that the Carmichael zone will soon include the Arden/Arcade area. Do you know anything about this and when this change will happen? Also, will the SmaRTride unit undergo other changes? I am curious to know about this particular Regional Transit unit as a whole. It’s my favorite service. I hope you’re considering more service zones, expanded weekday hours, and on a trial basis, considering weekend/holiday service too. Thank you for having this award winning service in the greater Sacramento countywide area.

Reply:  Yes, the existing Arden/Arcade zone will be merged with the Carmichael zone and service will also be added to Kaiser Hospital on Morse Avenue and to American River College. We are planning to roll these changes out in early 2021. More details will be available in early 2021.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  Hello Mr.Li! Will the proposed Horn Rd LR project be receiving any funding from the revived development plans for an upscale housing community on the Kassis Estate, within ¼-mile of this project’s location?

Reply:  The City does impose infrastructure finance fees on all new development for transit improvements, so SacRT will receive those funds to assist with the Horn Station and other capital projects serving the City.

Sactown , CA:  Hello Henry! Great work on the SmaRT Ride rollout! I absolutely love it! I don't have a car, I haven't for 10 years, but previously lived in NYC and SF, recently moved back to Sac, please continue to build out the light rail options. Specifically, when is the Natomas + Airport happening? Didn't we vote on this and it's binding? Many people tell me it's never happening. Please, please, please!

Reply:  Welcome back to Sacramento! The Green Line extension to Natomas and the Airport continues to be a goal for SacRT. We have been working on project updates and collaborating with key partners. SacRT could receive a 50% match for the construction of the project from the federal government, but we still need to identify local funding for the project.

Citrus Heights, CA:  I recently wanted to take the light rail from Arden Del Paso station and I noticed ALOT of criminal activity on the light rail platform with homeless individuals drinking alcohol and disturbing passengers waiting for the bus and light rail while security sits there. What is RTs approach to fix the safety at major train stations and bus stops for passengers.

Reply:  We take all nuisance behavior seriously. SacRT tries to be proactive when dealing with these types of behaviors. We have Law Enforcement personal contracted with Sacramento PD and Sacramento Sheriffs we also have security guards and fare inspection staff. We also have a great tool in reporting these types of incidents with our Alert SacRT app. The app allows riders to discreetly report any incident directly to our 24/7 security operations center where staff is monitoring more than 1,000 live feed cameras and can dispatch a security guard or sworn personnel to the location.

Folsom , CA:  Will Folsom ever get weekend bus service? At the very least route 10.

Reply:  That’s a great request. During the launch of our redesigned bus network last year, called SacRT Forward, one of our goals was for all of our core routes to have service seven days a week. Folsom was not part of SacRT when we began the study, and we had a commitment not to alter anything in Folsom when they annexed into the SacRT district. Right now, however, we are not expanding, due to manpower and financial constraints due to COVID-19. We hope to look into this option in the future.

Arden-Arcade, CA:  I appreciate that SacRT advises me regarding drivers who recently test positive for Covid. (My sympathy to them.) Is it appropriate that I advise SacRT if I prove positive and realize that I was recently a rider?

Reply:  If a rider wants to share that information with our Customer Service staff, we would take that information.

ArdenArcade, CA:  Thank you for emails/texts providing info re: drivers who become positive for Covid. Do you anticipate riders to provide SacRT with their own contagion if they ride with the disease, and learn later?

Reply:  The Sacramento County Health Department has provided the guidance to not provide service to persons that are COVID-19 positive. The ADA act prohibits asking individual’s if they are COVID-19 positive, unless we ask every person. We have posted signage on all trains and buses advising persons that have COVID-19, or are experiencing symptoms, not to ride. The County’s contact tracing process would notify SacRT if a positive individual rode public transit, provided the individual reports it to the County. SacRT would follow the County Health Department’s guidance regarding posting of the information.

Fair Oaks, CA:  With the move to electric buses how does SacRT plan to implement this technology. Currently it still has a lot of issues with buses I’ve ridden on SacRT as well as the causeway connector.

Reply:  We recently took an item to our Board explaining our mandate under the California Air Resources Board’s Innovative Clean Transit program to convert to 100% electric by 2040. We are still working on a more comprehensive study as to our best options, and a timeline and budget for making the transition. We were proud to be a leader in air quality when we transitioned to 100% compressed natural gas in the 1980s and we look forward to the next step to zero-emission vehicles by 2040.

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will be held on Friday, December 4, 2020.