Transit Talk with the General Manager

February 05, 2021
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

Welcome to the February 2021 edition of Transit Talk with the General Manager.

With 2020 behind us, we are looking forward to a better 2021. The challenges we have all faced have taken their toll, but we know we can move forward, which is what SacRT continues to do for you and the communities we serve.

Because we wanted to better understand how SacRT could plan to meet the mobility needs of the Sacramento region during the pandemic, SacRT conducted a two-week online survey of our riders and the community. A total of 313 responses were received. Participants were asked to rank their satisfaction rating in nine best safety practices on a scale of 1 to 5 and SacRT received an overall score of 4.15. You can view the survey results at We plan to conduct a follow-up study in the coming months and encourage you to participate.

Just a reminder that the No Mask, No Ride, No Exceptions policy is still in effect. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a public health order last Friday requiring face coverings or masks for anyone age two or older on public transportation. The mask mandate became effective February 1. The CDC order will make it a violation of federal law for not complying, which will provide greater support for the SacRT team to enforce the mandate in order to keep you safe.

If you need a mask, SacRT has once again partnered with AmeriCorps members who will be at light rail stations every Thursday this month distributing free masks. Free masks are also available at SacRT's Customer Service and Sales Center. Learn more at

After a relatively spring-like January, a major storm system raged through the Sacramento area at the end of the month with heavy rains and wind gusts of over 60 miles per hour. This inclement weather caused downed trees and several power outages, which, in turn, caused an unprecedented disruption to SacRT's light rail service. I want to thank all of you for your patience while SacRT crews worked hard to get our trains back in service as quickly as possible.

With Valentine's Day approaching, SacRT is spreading the love by offering free rides with a free ride flyer in all nine SmaRT Ride zones on Friday, February 12. Visit for details.

Now let's get to your questions!

Citrus Heights, CA:  With recent news that more people are getting vaccinated to become immune to COVID-19, than cases being reported, do you hope that some of the suspended services return either in April and/or June? What are your plans for service improvements this year, and do you see some service being different later this year than they are now?

Reply:  The vaccine is positive news and SacRT is working on a plan to assist the community by providing free rides to and from appointments in an effort to eliminate barriers. We will continue to monitor Public Health Orders and rider demand as we make adjustments to service levels, and we remain hopeful that we can restore all suspended routes soon. We will be launching expanded service to several SmaRT Ride zones in both April and July and we will be sure to communicate that to our riders.

Elk Grove, CA:  I am a user of the “SacRT GO” service, and am interested in the service coming to Elk Grove. It was brought to my attention that in order for that to happen, that SacRT and the City must come to an agreement to “marry” - for lack of a better word, fully into the SacRT district, and that the existing conditions do not allow for “SacRT GO” to serve Elk Grove at this time. What is the progress report of a “proposed marriage” of Elk Grove going fully into SacRT in 2021?

Reply:  SacRT is continuing positive discussions with the City of Elk Grove regarding annexation of City of Elk Grove transit services. However, there are a number of steps that will have to occur in order for an annexation to take place, including the approval of an annexation agreement by the City of Elk Grove and SacRT governing bodies. We expect that an annexation agreement will be presented for approval by spring 2021. If it is approved and adopted by SacRT and the City of Elk Grove, the transfer of service would occur later in the year. For more information, please monitor our website for updates and items before the SacRT Board of Directors.

Sacramento, CA:  I have noticed that the Governor of the State of California has an executive order currently in place that prohibits public meetings being fully open to the public at this time. Is SacRT and other local and regional governing bodies and their staffs holding meetings with the Governor’s Office either to gradually lift the order and/or fully lift the order so that either at some small capacity to full capacity meeting rooms can once again accommodate folks to attend meetings of public agencies like that of SacRT and others? It is my hope that such meetings are taking place between public agencies and the Governor’s Office so that a resolution to this executive order can be resolved over the next several weeks - not months. Thank you.

Reply:  The return to large public meetings or gatherings remains prohibited under public health guidelines. SacRT continues to fulfill its responsibilities and duties to the public, while keeping its staff and public safe, by providing methods for the public to comment on all matters before the board and making board meetings available through live streaming on YouTube and SacRT's website. Members of the public are encouraged to submit written public comments no later than 2:00 p.m. on the day of the Board meeting at Members of the public may listen to or view the board meeting by accessing the link on SacRT's website under the board meeting agenda or clicking on the YouTube link which is shared on SacRT's social media. The board meeting is also aired on the Sacramento Metropolitan Cable Commission Broadcast. Minutes of the board meeting are presented to the Board members for their approval at the following meeting.

Folsom, CA:  I love the SmaRTride in Folsom, especially at the Historic Folsom Sutter Street Light Rail Station. Is service expansion or service improvements coming to the SmaRTride throughout the SacRT service area, not exclusively to Folsom. By the way, I mention Sutter Street Station earlier because it is one spot for overlapping service zones. I believe there is nothing like this anywhere else.

Reply:  It's great to hear that you enjoy using our SmaRT Ride on-demand microtransit shuttles. In April, we are planning on a few changes to SmaRT Ride service zones, including expanding the Folsom zone to include Folsom Ranch. We will have more information available on the SmaRT Ride zone changes next month.

Natomas, CA:  Do you either anticipate bus service between Natomas and Sacramento International Airport later this year, and anything service-wise, could SacRT benefit from the third stimulus bill that is currently being deliberated at the federal level on this date?

Reply:  We will continue to monitor Public Health Orders and rider demand as we make adjustments to service levels, and we remain hopeful that we can restore all suspended routes soon. At this time, we don't have a date to begin operating the Airport Express Bus route 142 between downtown Sacramento and the Sacramento International Airport. As soon as we have a date, we will be sure to share with our riders and the community.

Sacramento, CA:  Does RT allow passengers on Light Rail and Busses to bring portable e-scooters on board? I know the bicycle policy, but there is no stated policy on e-scooters. I want to buy a portable e-scooter (sub-40lbs) that can be carried like a small suitcase with wheels and fit onboard train or bus without taking an additional passenger space.

Reply:  We allow e-scooters that can fold-up on light rail and bus, but we do not allow e-scooter or e-bike rentals. A small foldable e-scooter, as you describe, would be allowed. Thanks for riding!

Grass Valley, CA:  Are there any plans to extend the light rail blue line east of Watt and I-80?

Reply:  Great question, thanks for asking. While we don't have any plans to extend the Blue line east of Watt/I-80, we are looking at high-capacity transit options along several corridors such as Watt Ave, Sunrise Blvd and Stockton Blvd. We are also coordinating with the Placer Gateway Plan and their efforts to add more robust service connections to Sacramento. We recently received funding, as part of the Placer Gateway Plan, for improvements to the Watt/I-80 station.

East Sacramento, CA:  With regards to the existing mask policy on Regional Transit combined with people now getting the vaccine, will folks who successfully get both booster shots to get them immune from the vaccine ultimately change the mask policy over the next several weeks or couple of months, or will riders likely be masking up for the next several years?

Reply:  At this time, we have no plans to change the mark requirement on transit. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently issued a mandate for riders to wear a mask or face covering while riding public transit. We continue to follow guidance from Sacramento County Public Health and the CDC to keep our employees and riders safe and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Sacramento, CA:  Where can I go to check up to date route information? If my bus is late, how can I tell?

Reply:  You can visit, there you can click on "bus" and see any bus cancellations. You can also use the RT tracker at to track your bus in real time. At the bus stop, just enter the bus stop number in the RT bus tracker to find out when the next bus will arrive at your stop.

North Sacramento, CA:  My question is pertaining to “real time” information. Your mobile app at does a great job for the riders in anticipation of the next bus or buses at a bus stop or transit center. I know that trains do get delayed for a variety of reasons, and the display signs at stations are only showing when the next “scheduled” train is coming - which is not necessarily always accurate when depending on a train arrival. Are you looking to upgrade your mobile app soon such that riders can see when a train is actually on its way, and not necessarily when it is “scheduled” to be there on paper?

Reply:  We are working on Real-Time for our light rail trains. We hope to have that available in the coming months.

Sacramento, CA:  Can you talk about the mask mandate and the medical exemptions for people with severe anxiety and can't wear a mask

Reply:  Masks are required for all riders. Individuals with qualifying disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act may contact Accessible Services at 916-321-BUSS (2877), select option 2 to request a reasonable accommodation to wear a mask or face covering to comply with this mandate.

Sacramento, CA:  1. What is the financial status of RT due to Covid-19? 2. Are there current plans to annex with Yolo?

Reply:  SacRT is performing well through the COVID-19 pandemic. Sales tax revenues for the region have remained strong and the CARES Act funding received is helping offset the loss of fare revenue due to declined ridership. The SacRT Board and the Yolo Board still have the 2x2 committee and are continuing discussions regarding future service.

South Sacramento, CA:  Your February “NextStop” news talked about Morrison Creek Construction, and, if I recall, a potential opening of the station for riders sometime in May 2021. Would the opening of this station and corresponding trains stopping there cause a schedule change to the Blue Line once this station opens? I currently travel to Watt/I-80 on weekdays, with a scheduled arrival at 5:59am. If the schedule does change, I would prefer to arrive at 5:44am so as to give some sense of breathing room between my arriving train there and my arriving/departing bus connection. Thank you.

Reply:  We are excited about adding the new Morrison Creek station to our system. Morrison Creek will be a walk on station with no vehicle access and will be accessed at the end of Ann Arbor Way from a pedestrian path. At this time, we do not anticipate adding time to the schedule for the Morrison Creek station, as we don't anticipate high ridership at that station. The earliest a light rail schedule time change could occur would be June 2021.

Unincorporated Sacramento County, CA:  Good Afternoon Henry. I wanted to ask you a question regarding the “SacRT Forward” project. It has been 17 months now, since the major service changes went into effect. What are you and your team noticing with regards to regular bus routes? For example, what is the best performing and worst performing regular bus routes so far? What corrective actions could quite possibly be looked at with the data on hand for the worst performing or five worst performing regular bus routes? What timeline, if any, are you looking to make some changes by, based on what was changed 17 months ago? Thank you.

Reply:  We did a thorough analysis of the routes last year, based on ridership trends through February 2020, and found that we had increased ridership significantly on weekends, where we added a lot of service. Weekday ridership was mostly unchanged, which was an accomplishment, because we actually reduced our service levels slightly on weekdays, to put more buses on weekends. This ended up being very fortuitous, because as soon as COVID-19 hit, weekday commuter and school ridership plummeted. By reallocating some of our resources to weekends, we were in a much better position to keep vital service for essential travel. Having more robust weekend service levels made easier for us to quickly transition into reduced weekday service levels during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Laguna, CA:  With the ACE train coming to Sacramento in the next few years, will SacRT be working with ACE/Valley Rail to coordinate service to the airport? I also think it might be more reasonable to work with ACE in having their faster trains go to the airport rather than the slower light rail vehicles go to the airport.

Reply:  We have been in coordination with San Joaquins Train regarding the Valley Rail plan and connections from the future Elkhorn station, and connections to stations in Elk Grove, Sacramento, and North Sacramento.

Rancho Córdova, CA:  What can the Sacramento Regional Transit District do under President Joe Biden’s stimulus plan, if passed and signed into law by President Biden that it cannot do just yet?

Reply:  The new Administration has proposed a rescue relief package that is currently moving through Congress. They have also expressed their desire for a broader infrastructure investment bill and SacRT has a number of projects that could benefit from the legislation and catalyze economic growth.

Rancho Córdova, CA:  The last week of January there was a bus bridge happening all day due to the storm that combined heavy winds with rain. In reviewing the aftermath of the storm combined with the all-day bus bridge, what “lessons learned” did SacRT look back and reflect on? How could SacRT do better to deploy and execute an all-day bus bridge should another weather event that occurred in late January, occur like that again?

Reply:  Thank you for the question. SacRT has had an emergency contingency plan in place for many years in the preparation for such an event. Transit ambassadors and security guards were placed at all key light rail stations to answer customer questions and assist riders boarding special shuttles as part of the bus bridge plan. Alerts and station notifications were pushed out quickly and often to communicate the service disruption and status with riders, and location media assisted by posting notices on their social media and online news pages. Staff also worked closely with local SMUD account representatives to help prioritize the need for restoring service faster as we know there are many customers who depend on public transit for essential trips.

Closing Remarks:

Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will be held on Friday, March 5, 2021.