Transit Talk with the General Manager

August 06, 2021
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

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

I am very proud to announce that SacRT has been honored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) as the 2021 Outstanding Public Transportation System of the Year. This prestigious and highly competitive award recognizes organizations in the public transportation industry across North America whose accomplishments and innovations have greatly advanced public transportation.

SacRT was recognized for a number of initiatives that we launched between 2018 and 2020 including, lowering fares, expanding service, completing a comprehensive route optimization; introducing SmaRT Ride, one of the nation's biggest and most successful microtransit services; regaining the trust of city jurisdictions and reannexing transit services back into the SacRT district, implementing RydeFreeRT, the nation's first fare-free rides for student program of its magnitude; and achieving double-digit ridership growth.

SacRT will be at APTA's Transform Conference and Expo in November to proudly accept the award on behalf of SacRT, its employees and our community.

If you have ever wondered how a transit agency operates and shapes the communities it serves, then you should sign up for SacRT's 2021 Transit Academy. The four-class course is designed to educate and engage residents, business, and community leaders about SacRT's planning process. Applications will be accepted starting Tuesday, August 17 through Friday, September 17. The classes will be held over a four-week period every Tuesday evening from October 5 through October 26. Information will be posted soon on

On Thursday, August 19, SacRT will hold a public hearing both in person and virtually to seek public input for Federal Transit Administration approval of a new deployable ramp and detectible warning tile for our new low floor light rail vehicles. Two public hearings will be held at the SacRT auditorium that day with the first at 10 a.m. and the second at 6 p.m. Call SacRT's ADA Compliance Officer at 916-321-BUSS (2877), press option 1, then option 2 for additional information.

Effective Sunday, August 29, SacRT will implement September service improvements, which include the return of Airport Express service to the Sacramento International Airport and a new peak-hour commuter bus serving Fair Oaks, Orangevale, Rancho Cordova, and the Sunrise light rail station. For a complete list of service improvements visit

Just a reminder that the federal mandate to wear a mask onboard public transportation is still in place. SacRT is providing free masks at the Customer Service and Sales Center, located at 1225 R Street (13th Street station)?and onboard?most buses and trains.

SacRT does not want the lack of transportation to prevent anyone wanting a COVID-19 vaccine to get one. Therefore, we have extended free transit rides for everyone who needs to get to a COVID-19 vaccine location through Thursday, September 30. This includes all vaccination sites in Sacramento County within SacRT's service area, including hospitals, pharmacies, and other immunization locations. For more information on vaccinations, eligibility, and appointments, visit Sacramento County's Coronavirus vaccine website at For trip planning assistance visit or call 916-321-BUSS (2877).

Now let's get to your questions!

South Sacramento, CA:  I am excited to read in the August NextStop Newsletter about the late August 2021 opening of the Morrison Creek Station. I have two questions regarding the station access and schedule/timetable. Initially, upon station opening, what will be the best access to get to the station from within the surrounding community? Will the light rail schedule(s) need to be adjusted by one to two minutes to account for trains needing to come to a complete stop in both directions, versus them just slowing down only, as is the case here in early August?

Reply:  I am happy to hear that you read our passenger newsletter! The new Morrison Creek light rail station will be accessible by a pedestrian/bike path from Ann Arbor Way. Regarding the schedule, the normal boarding time is 10 seconds and the current schedule has the capacity to absorb that with no impact to the schedule.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  Is our city and community included either in the light rail modernization or other planning activities for a new “Horn Road” light rail station? It seems like distances between stations like Tiber to Butterfield are close, and could appear to ones eyes as too close. Once you get past Butterfield, it’s a great distance to Mather Field Station in our city and community. A “Horn Road” Station would provide our city and community with great frequency to destinations like the Rancho Cordova Library and the medical/dental offices near the library that only Route 78 is currently able to do.

Reply:  A new station at Horn Road is included in future plans for the Gold Line to provide additional connections in Rancho Cordova. The station is still in the early design phase and additional funding will be need to be identified in order to fully design and construct the station. Unfortunately there is not a committed construction and opening timeline yet.

Sacramento, CA:  Hi, Henry, Is it possible to install to #106 one Pocket bound service in the morning and one Downtown bound service in the afternoon? So that non students, old ladies like me, can go to Sprouts Market for their cheaper priced produce. If we use # 62, we need to walk 30 minutes to go to the store. I requested this additional service time since #6 was replaced by #106. Now that sacrt plans to improve the service, would you take this into consideration? Thanks. J. Mar

Reply:  Thank you for your comment. I’ve shared this with our Planning Department for consideration. We are currently updating our Short Range Transit Plan, which looks at issues such as these, and where we have the greatest need for expansion. I would also offer an alternative that might help you today. The walk from the route 62 Freeport to Sprouts should only be about 15 minutes, but if that doesn’t work for you, one option would be to change buses from the route 62 to the route 11 on Freeport, by Sac City College. The other option might be to visit the Raley’s on Freeport, which is directly served by the route 62.

Sacramento, CA:  Will SacRT on its own, and/or in conjunction with YoloBus, have brochures available in hard copy/print with regards to Route 142 and Routes 42A/42B, in particular to show riders shared downtown stops when traveling by bus to Sacramento International Airport? I am looking forward to the upcoming more combined frequent service, even if that now means that we now have to wait until September 12th to see all of it in place. Hopefully, downtown stops can be shown in a brochure such that if riders like myself have access to it that a certain downtown stop or two is frequent enough between both transit agencies that memorizing a schedule will not be necessary because frequency will be at levels in such a manner that if one barely misses a bus, the next one will be there in just a matter of minutes. Thank you.

Reply:  SacRT is working on printed timetables for the relaunched Airport Express Bus route 142. We will have them available before the new route launches on Sunday, August 29, 2021. Information on the new route 142 is available online at and new maps and schedules will be available online next week.

Citrus Heights, CA:  When is the next regional transit Board of Directors meeting?

Reply:  The next SacRT Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 23, 2021. Information on board meetings is available on our website

South Sacramento , CA:  How are the ridership numbers since reopening on June 15th?

Reply:  The reopening did not appear to have a major impact on ridership as many people continue to work from home. In July 2021, total ridership was 46% of the total from July of 2019. Ridership has been returning slowly to SacRT since April 2020 with more passengers returning to bus than to light rail.

Folsom, CA:  What is the estimated timeframe at this point for double tracking to and from Folsom? During the double tracking project, would SacRT need to implement temporary bus bridges, or would that not be necessary?

Reply:  SacRT expects to begin construction in spring of 2022 with completion scheduled for fall of 2023. There will be bus bridges set up at certain points during construction but not for the duration of construction.

Natomas Area, CA:  I see that Regional Transit is going to relaunch its suspended Airport Service later this month. I celebrate that occasion with you. My only concern is for those of us in the Natomas Area, in that we feel we have been left without direct airport service, especially considering our proximity to the airport. How is Regional Transit addressing having a direct airport bus line and service from the Natomas Area to the airport? Will the Natomas Area be immediately looked at after the Route 142 is reinstated? Will Route 13 (Del Paso and El Centro) be taken into consideration to be extended to the airport? Will we have to wait for some years for Amtrak to serve Natomas in order to have a bus route serving the airport? I just hope that we in the Natomas Area are not left or forgotten about with regards to this topic for that much longer, given our proximity to the airport, and that this can be a matter resolved here, shortly. Thank you very much for considering this for the Natomas Area.

Reply:  Thank you for your question! We are currently in the process of updating our Short Range Transit Plan, and part of that work includes looking at extending nearby bus routes in Natomas to the airport. With new development and road construction in Greenbriar and Metro Air Park, we are getting closer to the point where an extension of Route 11 or 13 could be considered. More information on how to comment on the Short Range Transit Plan will be available in the next couple months.

Del Paso Heights, CA:  I am a rider of Route 15 to and from a stop on Grand Avenue near Winters Street. A couple of years ago or so, I rode Route 15 directly to my destination. Now, I ride Route 86 to Grant High School, where I transfer to Route 15, because existing Route 15 does not go downtown anymore via Richards Boulevard like it previously did. Would SacRT be able to reconsider this decision from two years ago and restart Route 15 to and from Downtown Sacramento. For the Richards Boulevard area, I can see the community benefits this would bring to the area, especially if Route 15 were to be brought back to and from Downtown Sacramento. Thank you.

Reply:  We had a lot of debates about shortening route 15, to no longer directly serve downtown. There are definitely travel patterns, like you described, where it is helpful to have a direct route from North Sacramento to Richards Blvd. However, we ultimately felt that the route 15 service to downtown was redundant enough with light rail, and with the route 11 serving Richards Blvd., that it would make sense to shorten the route to end at Arden/Del Paso. The savings from doing this is part of what allowed us to extend the route 13 bus through North Sacramento and Natomas, add weekend service and better headways.

Elk Grove, CA:  While there is somewhat of a moratorium, as I come to understand, between Regional Transit and Elk Grove with regards to making service changes, does the moratorium prohibit service improvements to existing fixed routes without changing the route alignment itself? For example, can Regional Transit and Elk Grove improve the frequency, span of service hours, or days of service of existing fixed routes, without changing the route alignment, or does the moratorium prohibit even doing this, for now? For what you’re currently limited in doing, could you elaborate a bit on what’s being planned in the coming months ahead, and/or what’s in the short term pipeline, prior to the moratorium being lifted? Thank you.

Reply:  We do not have any plans to expand or increase service in Elk Grove at this time. We are, however, in the process of updating our Short Range Transit Plan and have met with City officials and will continue coordinating with the City of Elk Grove on this effort. Please keep checking the Elk Grove city website or SacRT’s website for public participation opportunities coming up and also how to send in your ideas, comments or suggestions on how to improve service in Elk Grove.

Sacramento, CA:  What is the status of and timeline for a new “Dos Rios” light rail station on the Blue Line? I had heard about this in the past, but wanted to get an update, if there is one.

Reply:  We anticipate that the new Dos Rios Station will be open in the fall of 2023.

Sacramento, CA:  Back in July, Regional Transit, in partnership with CalTrans was going to implement two different planned bus bridges over two different July weekends so that work on the “Fix50” project would be able to be done, without the interference of train service. That work was eventually postponed, and service operated as normal weekend service. With that in mind, has the work been rescheduled, and therefore the two different planned bus bridges that were to occur alongside the highway work?

Reply:  Yes, Caltrans needed to postpone the work, and it has now been tentatively rescheduled for the weekends of September 11 on the Gold Line and September 18 on the Blue Line. As soon as these dates are confirmed, we will provide the usual notifications to our passengers.

Sacramento, CA:  What’s the status on the Morrison Creek station? When should we expect it to open?

Reply:  The contractor is finishing up at the Morrison Creek light rail station and it will open on Sunday, August 29 as a walk-on station.

Sacramento, CA:  Hello Henry, My question is in regard to both bus and lightrail service. Will SacRT be enforcing noise issues by unruly passengers? If so, who? Security doesn't ride transit and there are never security at bus-to-bus transfer stations. I'd say about 5% of the time, passengers have brought on portable speakers and at excessive volumes played very family inappropriate music and remain disruptive. Thank you

Reply:  Sorry to hear you are having this experience on bus. Please report any nuisance behavior on the free Alert SacRT app where the appropriate personnel will be notified and dispatched if necessary.

Pocket, CA:  Where is SacRT planning on expanding SmaRT Ride to next, if anywhere?

Reply:  On July 1st, SacRT added an Elk Grove SmaRT Ride zone and expanded the boundaries of the the Florin-Gerber zone. At this point we are analyzing the zones and their productivity before making any further decisions on the service.

Sacramento, CA:  I love the plans to bring local, regional, and intercity buses into Sacramento Valley Station. However that solution is still several years away. Are their any near-term plans to improve local bus access to the station? For example, I take the 62 and connect to Amtrak weekly, currently the 62 drops off two blocks away from the station, and it drops off at a pedestrian-hostile environment where the sidewalk has been closed for months due to construction, and the nearest crosswalk requires you to cross three times, including in front of the I-5 onramp. This makes the bus-train connection nearly impossible and extremely dangerous, especially for elderly and disabled.

Reply:  Thanks for your question. We considered re-routing the route 62 Freeport into Sacramento Valley Station when we redesigned our bus network in 2019, as part of our SacRT Forward project. There were two reasons we decided not to. First, it adds a little bit of time to the route 62 schedule, and time is money. Minutes matter, and so do connections, and we didn’t think this route had cushion in the schedule for any extra time, so that was one factor. The other factor was coverage of the west end of downtown. You may know that the route 30 J Street bus used to run the entire length of J Street, from 3rd Street. We had a number of suggestions, which we ultimately acted upon, to simplify the route, and have it run from Sacramento Valley Station, to 6th Street, to J Street. This helped take a few minutes off the schedule, which was very helpful on this route, which is one of our busiest, and most expensive to run. But there are a number of transit destinations, including senior homes, in the J/L Street corridor, west of 6th Street, for which we wanted to maintain direct service, and the route 62 accomplishes that with a fairly efficient loop, going down L Street to 3rd Street, and back to J Street. So that was the basis of keeping the route 62 Freeport the way it is, at least for now. We are currently working on our Short Range Transit Plan, which will look at bus routes and destinations. More information will be out in the coming months.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Congratulations on regional transit accolades, as I had read all about it in the next stop newsletter!

Reply:  Thank you, we are honored to have been awarded APTA's Outstanding Public Transit System of the Year Award. We have our riders, employees and community to thank!

Sacramento, CA:  Good afternoon, RT’s 50th anniversary is coming up in a year and a half, are there any special events planned? Perhaps a return of the Roadeo/Raildeo? Thanks!

Reply:  We haven't started planning for our 50th anniversary yet, but I'm sure we will have a big community celebration to mark the event.

Sacramento, CA:  Any updates on the green line extension?

Reply:  At this time, there are no major updates for the Green Line extension. SacRT continues to work with City and County staff to finalize the Green Line alignment and coordinate development of properties along the alignment in order to minimize impact when the new light rail line is constructed.

Sacramento, CA:  Hi. Was rt forward in effect long enough to tell if it was successful.

Reply:  Yes, we actually did a detailed analysis of ridership, based on the month of February 2020 compared to the same month one year prior. At that time we had been experiencing very strong growth in ridership, from the RydeFreeRT fare-free transit for students program, which launched in October 2019, just one month after our new bus network launched in September 2019. When we deducted the ridership from RydeFreeRT, we found that the new SacRT Forward network was increasing ridership as well, on its own, by about 4 percent. Considering that this was not really an expansion project, but was mostly a reallocation of existing service, we were very pleased with these results. When COVID-19 hit, it also ended up being very fortunate that we had reallocated a lot of our service to weekends, making our weekend network complete and closing major geographical gaps in service, because it allowed us to quickly scale down our service levels at the beginning of the pandemic in an orderly way, with routes, maps, driver shifts, and timetables already prepared.

Sacramento, CA:  What are some unique challenges that SacRT has to overcome compared to other regional transit systems? And what are some advantages?

Reply:  I think some of the unique challenges are the way that SacRT is funded, we receive a lot less in local taxes than many of our peers, which inhibits some expansive projects that we would love to do. We also provide service to a region, meaning we cross many city lines and have to work with communities and elected officials on all projects so that we ensure we are serving our rider's needs. It adds a layer of complexity to all our projects that smaller agencies or agencies constrained within one municipality wouldn't have to deal with. I think some of the advantages are the growing enthusiasm in our community for more public transit options and service. We have a very engaged ridership that gives us valuable feedback to make sure the service we are providing or planning will meet their needs. We also have an amazing staff that always goes above and beyond to improve our service and make sure that we are moving our customers where they want to go when they want to go there. We have developed a collaborative relationship with local stakeholders and the business community. We are constantly engaging in partnerships that bring more services and enable us to be a leader in providing mobility options for our community.

elk grove, CA:  I love the Smart bus, but from the new eg route I cannot get to Light rail or to cosumnes River. or to Kaiser. The Meadowview route, where i used to live, went to all 3. Seems to me that connecting with Hubs like Cosumnes should be a priority.

Reply:  Thank you for your suggestion. Not all of our SmaRT Ride zones are designed the same way, and with our Elk Grove zone, we placed a high value on making sure it was available to lower-density areas that doesn't have fixed-route bus service. This was also an important consideration for the City of Elk Grove, with whom we coordinated closely on for the zone design. Our experience thus far has been that vehicle availability has been fairly good, so we have been looking into expansion options, including what you described.

Laguna, CA:  I noticed that on E-Trans old City of Elk Grove site, the commuter route frequencies show 4 runs in the morning and 4 runs in the evening for route 14. However, the SacRT route entry for 14 shows only two morning runs and two evening runs. Which is correct? If it's the SacRT entry, why was SacRT allowed to cut the frequency in half after SacRT's annexation?

Reply:  Thank you for catching this. The City of Elk Grove website appears to show the commuter schedule before the pandemic. SacRT is currently operating the same service levels that Elk Grove was providing before we annexed transit services on July 1, 2021. SacRT didn't reduce any service levels during the annexation. We will check with the City of Elk Grove on their webpage information.

Closing Remarks:

Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will be held on Friday, September 3, 2021.