Transit Talk with the General Manager

September 03, 2021
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

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

If you are headed to the airport today or tomorrow, take advantage of free rides on SacRT's Airport Express bus (route 142), which recently resumed service. The Route 142 Airport Express operates every 30 minutes, seven days a week between downtown Sacramento and the Sacramento International Airport with new electric battery powered zero-emission buses. Free rides run through Saturday, September 4, 2021, after that, regular SacRT fares apply.

Also, during the month of September, SacRT light rail riders can take advantage of $1 fare for simply using the new contactless fare option. Just tap your credit, debit, prepaid card, or payment-enabled device (mobile phone, smartwatch or other) on readers installed at the front/back on all SacRT light rail trains for an easy and secure way to ride transit. For more information about tapping to pay, visit

On August 29, 2021, SacRT implemented several new service improvements. We added the Airport Express Bus, added a new commuter route 124 (Sunrise Commuter) and made adjustments to several bus routes. Learn more at

As a reminder before you board a bus or light rail train, a mask must be worn at all times when you ride with us. Please note that the federal mandate to wear a mask onboard public transportation has been extended to Tuesday, January 18, 2022. SacRT is providing free masks at the Customer Service and Sales Center, located at 1225 R Street (adjacent to the 13th Street station) and onboard most buses and trains.

If you want to get the COVID-19 vaccine, there is still time to take advantage of SacRT's free transit rides to get to vaccine locations. Last month, we extended free rides through Thursday, September 30, 2021. 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).

Interested in getting behind the scenes look at SacRT? There is still time to register for SacRT's Transit Academy, which is a four-class course designed to educate and engage residents, business, and community leaders about SacRT's planning process and how transit shapes our communities. Classes will be held once a week over a four-week period on Tuesday evenings, October 5 through October 26, 2021. Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, September 17 for the 2021 Academy. Visit for more information.

In closing, I want to encourage everyone to regularly visit to learn about the latest happenings, including service changes, service alerts, new projects and SacRT in the community. This month we are featuring fun local events like the Chalk it Up Festival and Farm-to-Fork Festival. Remember to download the free ride flyer when you click on the pages. is also a good resource to check on any detours or service alerts that might be taking place now or in the future.

Now let's get to your questions!

Sacramento, CA:  Good afternoon Henry. I am following up with a question from August with regards to CalTrans “Fix 50” work that would impact SacRT light rail operations on weekends. Since the August edition of “Transit Talk” have you received official confirmation from your business partners as to if in fact the weekend of September 11th will impact the Gold Line, and if the weekend of September 18th will impact the Blue Line? If the information you have received is official, would you and the team at SacRT be able to post it in the alerts section of the website by the end of the day today? I recognize that today leads many folks into a 3-Day weekend, and as such I would hope that the official information you are looking for is available for posting by the end of the day so that the affected Regional Transit staff can enjoy their 3-Day weekend too, just like many folks are looking ahead to, as well. Thank you for looking into the impact of this up and coming service disruption.

Reply:  Good afternoon. The Caltrans work you are referring to is now tentatively scheduled for the weekends of October 14-15 and October 23-24. Once the dates are confirmed, SacRT staff will add information to the SacRT Alerts webpage, social media and add messages at stations. Thank you for checking back about this work.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Now that the Morrison Creek station is open, what plans exist to also serve it with a bus route? Also in general I've wondered if it would make sense to have each Light Rail station served by at least 1 bus route that connects it to the rest of SacRT. I think of some stations that look as if they'd leave one stranded if one exits Light Rail there. (Or conversely, how would we get to such lone stations?) I frequently think about the 47th Avenue Station, why not extend 67 to serve it? When laying out stations, would it be a feasible goal to assure each gets bus service too?

Reply:  The land neighboring the station will soon be built out as a mixed-use transit village. It is anticipated to be a dynamic and active center of the community, with the Morrison Creek Station anchoring the eastern edge. As part of the development, an access road will be constructed to the light rail station. As the development occurs, SacRT will look to add bus service to better connect residents.

Natomas Area, CA:  I am in the Natomas Area, and provided a question/comment about getting SMF Airport service during the August chat session. I want to thank you for your response and being sensitive to the bus service transit needs of us out here in Natomas, especially with our proximity to the SMF Airport. That being said, I do have a follow-up question, of which I will quote the last sentence of your August response to me. “More information on how to comment on the Short Range Transit Plan” (SacRT on the Move) will be available in the next couple months.” Is there anything Natomas can be part of, or any area for that matter, like an in-person community forum, to speak with your team and other SacRT staff on this plan, and becoming good community stewards with regards to development of future transit service changes that could be implemented in a 5-year timeframe between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2026? This would definitely be an exciting opportunity to become involved in community development, and be carefully thoughtful about it so that it would lead to smart final results. Thank you very much for your time, today. I, and Natomas deeply appreciate it.

Reply:  Community involvement is a critical part of the development of the Short Range Transit Plan, so becoming involved in workshop/forum-type events is highly encouraged. SacRT will host events to allow members of the public opportunities to speak with the SacRT team about the development of future transit service. Staff is preparing for public engagement to likely kickoff in October with at least two virtual open houses, as we are not quite ready to get back to in-person meetings just yet. Event dates and times will be posted to the web page and on social media when they have been confirmed. Contact information is also posted on the website at

Sacramento, CA:  Have an immediate concern about the recent fires that have taken place at the Meadowview and Florin Light Rail stations in the last few months. We currently have dry vegetation North of the Florin Road parking area and Light Rail station, which I understand belongs to RT. Setting on/near the dry vegetation is a large dumpster that is full of dry waste and tree trimmings. Along with that are Homeless encampments on the same property. Our immediate neighborhood from Indian Lane North and East to 27th Street also has patches of dry vegetation and will quickly ignite if any nearby fire (your area) burns. Along with this is the recent dumping of waste on the same RT property and parking area that can add to the current volatile situation. Can anyone help remove these potential fire hazards and clear the property in the area to help keep our neighborhood safe?

Reply:  Thank you for relaying your concerns. SacRT is in coordination with Union Pacific and local jurisdictions as we maintain track safety along our rail right of way. We are formulating a strategic plan to address vegetation that could potentially become hazards. I have shared your concern with our team and we are looking into it.

Unincorporated Sacramento County, CA:  With the NBA returning to allow fans back into arenas and facilities for the 2021-2022 Season, what role will SacRT have in terms of service “ramp up” to both continue to encourage social distancing when going to and from events at Golden 1 Center, as well as to encouraging increased transit ridership to and from the Golden 1 Center from October to at least mid-April? Hopefully the service “ramp up” goes beyond light rail, and would heavily include Routes 11, 30, 38, 51, 62, 86, 88, and 142. Thank you for looking into this.

Reply:  We look forward to Golden 1 Center attendees and Sacramento Kings fans riding with us to upcoming events. Since September 2020, SacRT has been operating at near 100% pre-pandemic service levels so there is not a plan to “ramp up” as we are back to regular service hours. We continue to prioritize safety for our customers and employees, and just last week the federal mask mandate on public transportation was extended to January 18, 2022. SacRT continues to clean and sanitize vehicles and other touchpoints daily. Please visit for more information on our safety protocols. Thank you for your question.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Do you or anyone on your staff read the Sacramento Reddit regularly? Every so often SacRT is brought up as a subject of discussion. This past week some threads appeared ranging from delight that Airport Route 142 is back to another contentious one where people were asked to supply their strongest dislikes. I'm wondering if this source is considered and what other ones are also consulted that are seen as legitimate.

Reply:  Thank you for bringing this to our attention, we were not aware of this topic of discussion. We will look into it.

Elk Grove, CA:  With teleworking ending for state workers, would it be possible to reinstate the normal schedules for the errands commute routes (ie 14)?

Reply:  Thanks for your question. At this time, we are not seeing ridership numbers to justify full restoration of these services, but we are monitoring ridership closely. I am sharing this suggestion with our Planning department which is currently working on updating our Short Range Transit Plan.

Elk Grove, CA:  Please consider having Ethan busses run on Sundays as many of us have church and chores to run on the weekends.

Reply:  As part of our annexation of Elk Grove transit services, we are committed to maintaining service as-is. However, we agree and have noticed that weekend service is minimal and something we would like to address. It is just a matter of how we prioritize the resources that we have. I will share your suggestion with our Planning Department, which is currently updating our Short Range Transit Plan.

Sacramento, CA:  Hello, I’m glad to see the Route 142 back! I’m curious however, has the partnership between RT and Yolobus broken down? Pre-pandemic, the schedules were done together so that there was overall 20 minute service. Now it looks like RT is doing it’s own 30 minute service, and I saw at the Yolobus stop a sign that said Sept 12th, they’re changing their routing in Downtown Sac and also adding trips during peak hours for their own 30 minute service. It just seems very confusing, especially to someone coming from out of town. Hopefully RT and Yolobus can start coordinating again for a consistent schedule and bus stops, for a good customer experience. Thanks!

Reply:  We've had a great experience working with Yolobus, including putting up coordinated signage at the Airport, however, for this go-around, both parties felt it would not be as possible to synch the schedules between the two agencies. Yolobus has been working on implementing their new YoloGo plan, a major part of which is changes to route 42, which is their airport route. We think the YoloGo plan makes a lot of sense for Yolobus and the route 42, which does a lot of other things, beyond just airport service. At least for now, it made more sense for our route 142 Airport Express bus to be scheduled independently, to provide clear, consistent 30-minute service, seven days a week.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  Hello and Happy Friday! Just to be clear, I can use my Connect Card on the trains or buses and will only be charged $1.00 for any trips taken in September, is that right?

Reply:  No, the $1 fare on light rail for the month of September is only when using the contactless tap devices, which do not work with Connect Card. The contactless devices are currently only available on light rail trains. More information on the program is available at

Citrus Heights, CA:  If we have contactless fair payment on board light rail trains, what I would like to see is if we have the ability to pay with our connect cards aboard buses, how about the ability to pay with our Kennett cards on board light rail trains? I certainly don’t see why not.

Reply:  Thanks for your question. The new contactless fare payment program is a demonstration on light rail to see how this option works for riders. At this time, it is not available for the Connect Card system. After we evaluate this program, we will look at adding additional services. Connect Card, ZipPass and other options of fare payment are still available.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  Thanks for responding to Connect Card question. But still not sure what that means....when you say 'contactless devices', are you talking about credit or debit cards? Meaning I can only use those at train stations and then ride anywhere for $1.00?

Reply:  Please visit, it has a lot of information about what devices can be used to pay fare using the contactless devices including contactless debit and credit cards, contactless enabled mobile and wearables (watch).

Sacramento, CA:  I just love the expansion of the Smart Ride bus system into my area. When will passengers be able to tap the connect card on the trains? Also, when will the Connect Card be available on iOS in their wallet?

Reply:  We just launched the contactless fare payment program on light rail this Wednesday We hope to be able to expand the program to all vehicles in the future, but we don't have a timeline at this time.

Sacramento, CA:  Is the “142 Airport Express” truly on zero emission buses? I only ask because I have observed some trips operating on traditional CNG vehicles. When is the conversion to fully operate this route on ZEV supposed to occur?

Reply:  The new zero-emission battery powered electric buses are not on the route yet, but we expect to start incorporating them into the route next week.

Folsom, CA:  When it comes to light rail, and/or light rail extensions, I want to get your take and angle as to what extension you see happening first. Is it more likely that SacRT will extend light rail into Elk Grove before light rail would get extended to Natomas and the Airport, or do you see the Natomas and Airport extension happening before the Elk Grove extension?

Reply:  With Congress negotiating an infrastructure package, I believe there is an opportunity for SacRT to more forward with both extensions. We are currently working on environmental and planning documents and collaborating with our partners. Additional local funding support will be instrumental as we expand our light rail network.

Sacramento, CA:  Are RT staff 'fare checkers' still monitoring fares and if yes, how does that work for the contactless payments?

Reply:  Yes, our Transit Ambassadors have a portal they access to check fare has been paid using the contactless devices. One tap is good for 90 minutes on light rail only.

Citrus Heights , CA:  When is the next regional transit board of directors meeting

Reply:  The next SacRT Board of Directors meeting is Monday September 27, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. We are holding virtual meetings at this time and a link is available on our website

Citrus Heights, CA:  What is the timeframe for double tracking the Folsom portion of the Gold Line?

Reply:  Thanks for asking, we are excited about this project getting completed. Construction is expected to take approximately two years with start of service by late 2023.

South Sacramento , CA:  What are the ridership numbers now since students are in school?

Reply:  At this time we are still collecting data from students returning to school. Some school districts opened as recently as yesterday (SCUSD) and service changes were implemented earlier this week to better serve schools have yet to be analyzed for ridership returns. We expect to have this information available within the next week. I'd also like to take this time to promote our RydeFreeRT program that offers fare free transit to students in grades TK-12. The Board recently approved an extension of the program through June 30, 2022. Please visit for more details.

South Sacramento , CA:  Are there any changes for future bus services for later in the year?

Reply:  There are no more major service changes planned for 2021. We typically make our changes four times a year: January, April, June, and September, in concert with when our bus and light rail operators re-bid their shifts.

Sacramento, CA:  Hi. Isf funds were available is there need for late night bus service on major bus routes

Reply:  As part of our Short Range Transit Plan, one of the things we are looking at is adding some later service on several of our routes, along with some earlier morning service. Your comment has been shared with our Planning Department for consideration.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  How has ridership been in the past few months with more businesses re-opening although many state workers are still working from home?

Reply:  SacRT has seen consistent growth in ridership on our fixed route buses and SacRT GO Paratransit Services. Light Rail ridership has remained relatively flat over the last several months. We have found that although many people have returned to work, the majority of our commute riders (state employees for example) have yet to return to the office on a consistent basis. In order to continue promoting ridership growth the SacRT Board recently approved a promotional $1.00 fare for the month of September on our new Tap to Ride devices available on light rail vehicles only. Please visit for more details. Additionally, the RydeFreeRT program is back for another year and SacRT will be providing fare free transit on all SacRT fixed route and SmaRT ride services for eligible students in grades TK-12. Please visit for more information.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  Will the Smart Rides in Rancho Cordova cover more areas anytime soon? Would really help to offer rides to RC Kaiser especially.

Reply:  At this time, we don't have plans to expand the Rancho Cordova SmaRT Ride area. We expanded the zone earlier this year and we continue to monitor ridership.

ELK GROVE, CA:  Hi, can you please confirm if ALL 3 commuter routes for Elk Grove to Downtown are still active? Since E-TRan transitioned over to RT, no one seems to be able to assist with E-tran Commuter Routes, thank you!

Reply:  All commuter routes that were running prior to annexation on July 1, 2021, are still currently running. The same reduced service schedule remains the same. There are more than three Elk Grove commuter routes, so I'm not sure which ones you are referring to. Learn more about Elk Grove Transit Services at

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will be held on Friday, October 1, 2021.