Transit Talk with the General Manager

October 01, 2021
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

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

I’m happy to announce that the new RydeFreeRT cards have been distributed to schools. These cards are valid from today, October 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. If your student has not received their card yet, please check with their school, or you can pick one up at any Sacramento County Public Library, or at our Customer Service and Sales Center at 1225 R Street (adjacent to the 13th Street light rail station). The RydeFreeRT program offers youth free rides on the entire SacRT transit network including SacRT buses, light rail, SmaRT Ride on-demand microtransit service, Elk Grove transit and Folsom Stage Line. Visit for details.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021, is California Clean Air Day and in celebration, SacRT is offering free rides on bus, light rail, SmaRT Ride on-demand microtransit, Elk Grove transit, Folsom Stage Line, SacRT GO paratransit service, and SacRT’s e-van service. Gasoline powered transportation is the single biggest source of air pollution in California so this is a great opportunity to help clear the air by trying transit for free. We urge you to take the pledge to ride transit on California Clean Air Day, visit for details and trip planning assistance.

In addition, North Natomas Jibe is paying for all rides on SacRT’s SmaRT Ride shuttles in the Natomas-North Sacramento zone during the month of October in recognition of California Clean Air Day. To ride free, SmaRT Ride customers in the Natomas-North Sacramento zone simply need to request a ride and get onboard. The service operates weekdays, Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. You can visit for more information.

Looking to work for a great organization SacRT is hiring! We offer great salary and benefit packages and there are a variety of positions available throughout the agency. For a complete list of job openings, visit All applications must be submitted through the online job portal.

As a reminder, the federal mandate to wear a mask onboard public transportation has been extended again, this time to Tuesday, January 18, 2022. This means that while waiting, boarding and riding any bus or train, both your nose and mouth must be covered. SacRT provides free masks at the Customer Service and Sales Center, and they are available onboard?most buses and trains.

To help keep our region healthy and safe, we’ve also extended free transit rides to those of you who want to get to a COVID-19 vaccine location. Free rides to all vaccination sites in Sacramento County within SacRT’s service area, including hospitals, pharmacies, and other immunization locations are available through Friday, December 31, 2021. 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!

Folsom, CA:  I am a state employee who uses the Connect Card. I receive a monthly subsidy from my employer to add funds to the card. Unfortuantely, I forgot my password to my account and right now your Connect Card system cannot send emails to customers in order for them to receive a temporary password. I have been waiting very patiently for the last the 3 weeks for your IT Department to fix this problem, as of today I still cannot receive a temporary password to add funds to my card. I also been told I cannot go in person at the Customer Service Center to add funds to the card because I have a subsidy. The only way I can add funds is online. I'm sure I'm not the only customer who has this problem. I need to use the light rail starting Monday and I want to use the funds provided from my employer. Can you do anything to make this a priority? And if its not fix, how can I use my subsidy to load funds to my Connect Card?

Reply:  We would like to work directly with you to resolve this issue. Can you please call our Customer Advocacy Department at 916-321-2877, option 3, then option 6, and a staff member can assist you. Please have your Connect Card number available when you call.

Citrus Heights, CA:  SacRT Forward came to life Sept 8, 2019. I'm reminded of that by signs around town pointing out the effective date of deleted stops, e.g., discontinued parts of Route 25 (hee, hee!) So now just after the 2-year anniversary, what is SacRT doing to evaluate the success factors of this change?

Reply:  Prior to the COVID pandemic, we did an analysis of the impact of both SacRT Forward and RydeFreeRT and found that ridership had grown from both. The gain was much more significant from RydeFreeRT, however, we were able to separate out those gains in student ridership and observe that we had also gained ridership independently from the new bus network, to the point that we were on pace to gain half a million riders from the new network, in just the first year, which exceeded our forecasts. The pandemic of course brought those ridership gains to a halt; however, we saw some unexpected benefits from the new network there as well, because the new network featured improved weekend service. When we had to roll back service in March last year, we were able to quickly and easily change to an all-Sunday schedule. Not only was this more understandable for customers, but also for scheduling shifts for operators and preparing all the public maps and timetables.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Some of the deleted stops after SacRT Forward took effect still have bus shelters. I took special note of that a few nights ago while walking when we had a surprise rain Monday at 9PM. I got underneath one at the NW corner of Madison Ave & San Juan Ave. It kept me dry. However, it would have been even more appreciated at the NE corner where we have an actual active bus line, Route 23. Therefore, would it be feasible to tear down shelters that no longer have service and reposition them to stops that do?

Reply:  We have a backlog of shelters that need to be relocated, as you've mentioned. We have found that the most efficient way to build and maintain our fleet of shelters is through an outside contractor, and that has been a valuable relationship for us, however, our contractor has had difficulties keeping up with work throughout the pandemic, which has understandably slowed down a lot of work. As priorities go, shelter relocation also tends to fall behind basic repairs such as broken glass and graffiti, so we have seen some of this work backing up, but we do intend to relocate inactive shelters to more useful locations. Thank you for your comment!

Citrus Heights, CA:  I enjoyed reading about you and SacRT in the recent July/August 2021 issue of Sactown Magazine. It was upbeat and hopeful while also realistic, of transit system aspirations and challenges. I think it'd be nice and useful to add links in somewhere within the About SacRT category when different forms of media like print and radio cover SacRT.

Reply:  Thank you for reading the story! We do share these types of stories on our social media and we used to include them on the website, but we found that after some time, the links no longer were active. We will consider sharing this story on our website, thank you for the suggestion.

Fair Oaks, CA:  Is federal transit funding at risk after October 18th or December 3rd, as it refers to the debt ceiling or the recent averting of a Government shutdown? The most recent continuing resolution keeps the Government open to 9pm Pacific Time on December 3rd.

Reply:  The action by Congress yesterday gives additional time to work on an infrastructure package and a larger budget bill. We are hopeful they will reach an agreement over the next few weeks and do not anticipate transit funding to be at risk.

Sacramento, CA:  With the Sacramento Kings started my the season this month, will SacRT have any supplemental service on bus and/or light rail? With regards to light rail, will trains on game days/nights be just the 2-car consists, or will SacRT consider making some trains 3-car and 4-car trains to accommodate additional passenger loads going to and from the games this season?

Reply:  Thank you for your question. We continue to monitor ridership on light rail, especially to special events at the Golden 1 Center. Due to current lower ridership numbers, we haven't added four car as we did before the pandemic, but we will monitor to see if additional train cars are needed for events.

Citrus Heights, CA:  What, if any, service changes and/or service improvements can riders anticipate and look forward to, to kickoff 2022?

Reply:  We are still developing our recommendations for 2022, so please stay tuned for official announcements, but some of the things we are looking at include better headways on Route 30, service on Elkhorn Blvd from Watt Ave to Greenback Lane, and extra morning and evening service on many of our routes.

North Highlands, CA:  Your October NextStop News talked about an upcoming October weekend in which there will be a service disruption on the Blue Line due to work on the California Viaduct Project. In addition, wasn’t there also supposed to be a weekend, previously postponed, in which there was to be a Gold Line service disruption so that work could be done in and around the light rail bridge between 65th and Power Inn? When is that supposed to take place?

Reply:  Thank you for bringing this up. Yes, the previously planned work by Caltrans was postponed and has now been rescheduled. From the start of service on Saturday, October 16 through 7 p.m. Sunday, October 17, Blue Line trains will not operate between the 13th Street and City College light rail stations. Special shuttle buses will transport passengers between those stations. This is due to construction on the Camellia City Viaduct. On the weekends of October 30 through October 31, and November 6 through November 7, Gold Line trains will not operate between 29th Street and Watt/Manlove light rail stations from start of service Saturday to 7 p.m. on Sunday due to construction on the Brighton Bridge. Again, special shuttle buses will transport passengers between stations. For further details on these service disruptions visit

Carmichael , CA:  Hi so I heard the new station on the Blue Line you need to push the stop request button.. I was just wondering what that meant? doesn't the train stop at every station? Thanks!

Reply:  Good question, because this is a walk-on only station and doesn't currently have vehicle access, it is not used very often. At this time, we ask that riders push the stop request button if they choose to get off at the Morrison Creek station.

Davis, CA:  I am both a YoloBus and SacRT rider who has been impacted recently by the bus operator staffing shortages at the Yolo County Transportation District. Is the bus operator shortage a topic facing Regional Transit as much as it is facing Yolo as well? In the Yolo service area, Routes 42A and 42B were supposed to improve in frequency and have route changes in Davis and Sacramento. Due to the bus operator shortage, we here in Davis have had status quo service levels and are awaiting an official date to be announced as to when both the bus operator shortage will be resolved leading to a date of the service changes as well.

Reply:  SacRT is facing similar staffing challenges related to the pandemic. However, SacRT does not foresee cancelling any routes. On occasion, SacRT may operate fewer trips during the day but all routes remain in service. Please visit for details on trip cancellations.

Folsom, CA:  Mr. Lee, I submitted my question to you about getting help with my Connect Card. I have been contacting Customer Advocacy for the last three weeks and they can't do anything to help. That's why I'm reaching out to you to make this a priority with your IT Department to get this problem fixed. And what are my alternatives to loading my Connect Card?

Reply:  We identified a staff member that can assist, but didn't want to give out her direct number, as she works in the Finance department. A staff member is ready in our Customer Advocacy department to connect you to our employee in Finance, who can help you reset your information. The phone number is 916-321-2877, select option 3 and then option 6. Thank you.

Fair Oaks, CA:  Hi there I was wondering on the Blue Line and Morrison Creek Station I read on FB that you need to push the stop request button on the train, I was just wondering that that meant, because i thought the train stopes at all the stations. Thanks!

Reply:  Because Morrison Creek is a walk-on only station and doesn't currently have vehicle access, it is not used very often so at this time, we ask that riders push the stop request button if they choose to get off at the Morrison Creek station.

Natomas, CA:  I have a question about the Short Range Transit Plan that I read in the October Edition of NextStop News. I read that your staff plan to hold at least two “virtual workshops” this Fall about this project. In addition to the planned virtual workshops, wouldn’t it now be practical to hold any in-person and/or hybrid approach workshops in which it is in-person, but with a virtual/online option for those that can’t make it in-person? I ask this question, in wake of the recent timing of schools going back to in-person learning, and feel that in-person workshops are practically better than virtual only or exclusively virtual with no option to be in-person. Thank you.

Reply:  For the safety of our employees and customers, SacRT is not conducting in-person meetings at this time. If that changes we will consider an in-person or hybrid workshop for the Short Range Transit Plan.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  The health care industry is taking a strong stand on vaccine mandates. I have recently seen in the news that workers who refuse vaccinations will be facing termination. Is the same happening in the public transit industry, and in particular with Regional Transit? Are you and your team making vaccine mandates district-wide with staff members facing possible termination for refusing to get vaccines?

Reply:  SacRT fully supports and encourages all personnel to receive one of the COVID-19 vaccinations. The decision to vaccinate remains a personal choice and SacRT is not mandating vaccinations. COVID-19 testing is available and masks are required inside SacRT buildings and on transit.

Citrus Heights, CA:  In seeing some Light Rail questions now, I just remembered something I've seen happen to first-time riders. They're new to the system and stand waiting for the train to stop. However, they don't know they have to push the button on the outside for the doors to open. Some have screamed as the train takes off without them, disappointed. What if Light Rail operators opened the doors instead when they see anyone at a station?

Reply:  With our aging vehicle fleet, it is challenging to keep the train temperature controlled if we open the doors at every stop. We want to make sure our riders are cool in the hot summer months and warm in the cold winter months. If we open the doors at every stop, it makes it very challenging to maintain a comfortable temperature inside.

Laguna, CA:  When the ACE/Valley Rail trains start coming to Sac, who will operate the shuttle between the Natomas station and the airport? SacRT or ACE?Valley Rail?

Reply:  SacRT operates the Airport Express Bus between downtown Sacramento and the Sacramento International Airport. The zero emission electric battery powered buses operate every 30 minutes, 7 days a week. This express bus service is available while SacRT works on funding for the light rail extension to the airport.

Folsom, CA:  How is ridership? Has Regional Transit seen an uptick, particularly on light rail? My hope, as one here in Folsom, is that the district will reconsider 3-car and even 4-car trains during weekday peak hours, in particular, late afternoon and early evening peak as people at those times are traveling home from work with people traveling to and from their food and retail shopping. The mornings are times I can handle the ridership loads as the food and retail shoppers are mainly not on the trains yet. Thank you.

Reply:  Ridership has begun to rebound noticeably on our bus system, due largely to students going back to school and riding the bus. We have not seen much of a rebound on light rail so far, but we will continue to monitor ridership on the peak Folsom trips. It is important to conserve mileage on our fleet, however, as it is definitely aging. We are very anxious to be getting new light rail vehicles in 2023.

South Sacramento , CA:  How are the ridership numbers going since the start of the school year?

Reply:  Ridership at SacRT has seen an uptick recently especially since school began. The Boards decision to renew the RydeFreeRT program should help continue this momentum into the near future. Ridership growth has been stronger on the bus side than on light rail. Light Rail ridership has remained relatively flat for the past few months (through August). We are working to pull September ridership results now and the early returns suggest that ridership has begun to grow again on light rail. We are monitoring this activity and will begin to add cars where needed as riders continue to return.

Laguna, CA:  I think you misunderstood my question. When I attended the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) virtual open house a month ago, they said there will be a shuttle between the Natomas ACE train station and the airport. I wanted to know if SJRRC will operate the shuttle or if SacRT will. I'm guessing that, since you already operate the Airport Express Bus, the answer is most likely that SJRRC is operating it. Can you confirm?

Reply:  Operations of this shuttle are still to be determined, and it may well be SacRT operating the buses, but ACE will be the owner of this service and will make that decision, as it is basically a connector from their planned Natomas station and the airport, connecting each of their intercity trains with the airport, similar to other thruway buses operated by the San Joaquins. For more information on this project, please visit:

Elk Grove, CA:  Happy Friday! Please consider increase weekend services for Elk Grove.

Reply:  Thank you for your comment. At this time we have no plans to increase weekend service in Elk Grove. We will continue to closely monitor and track conditions and trends and when resources allow, more weekend service in Elk Grove will definitely be a part of the plan.

CARMICHAEL, CA:  When 25 was shifted away from Sunrise Mall as part of SacRT Forward,disused stops along north Dewey(between Coyle and Greenback)last utilized by long-gone Neighborhood Ride route 94 that logicially should have been re-activated with the return of regular bus service along that stretch still remain unused with old bus stop signs('temporarily no service').Will those stops be reactivated?Second,when using SmaRT Ride,the Connect Card readers aboard the shuttle vans tend to be out of order half the time.Will they be fixed?

Reply:  With regards to the inactive stops on Dewey, yes! Not reactivating these stops was actually an oversight that was noticed just within the last month or so. We will most likely be reactivating these stops. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are working on a long term solution for Connect Card on the SmaRT Ride shuttles. The Connect Card system relies on the operator entering a route number that helps define the fare for the given route. Given that there is no route number for SmaRT Ride we have designed an automated process to log the bus into a generic route. Should you come across an issue with the Connect Card reader, please feel free to call Customer Service at 916-321-2877 or report the issue in the Alert SacRTapp. Make sure to include the bus number in your request and we will work to get it fixed.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Lately when some buses are out of service and most likely returning to the yard, I've seen them display "STUDENTS RIDE FREE". Very informative, I like the heads up notice. Then again, I've seen that one so often, I need another. How often do these messages get changed? What if there were a set of 3 different ones rotating within a month?

Reply:  Thanks for the question. Typically we update the bus head signs at each operator sign up, which is four times a year. It takes a lot of time from our Scheduling and Maintenance departments to make the changes. Drivers have a few options to enter a code to update the head sign when not in service.

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