Transit Talk with the General Manager

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

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

SacRT's Short-Range Transit Plan (SRTP) is advancing to the next step with two virtual open houses this month. SacRT encourages riders and the entire community to be involved in this important process as we consider the trends and conditions in today's Sacramento region.

The virtual open houses will be held via Zoom on Wednesday, November 10 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesday, November 17 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Visit for more information and Zoom links.

On Monday, November 1, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) began a series of Unmet Transit Needs hearings to collect comments from the public on their unmet transit needs. All hearings for this round will be held remotely via Zoom. Visit for more information on the hearings and the different ways you can participate.

SacRT has extended free transit rides to scheduled COVID-19 vaccine appointments through Friday, December 31, 2021. The free rides include all vaccination sites in Sacramento County within SacRT's service area, including hospitals, pharmacies, and other immunization locations. To ride free, show your COVID-19 vaccine appointment confirmation in the form of an email, text, or vaccine card, which will serve as valid fare only on the date noted in your appointment.

As a reminder, federal law requires anyone riding public transportation to wear a mask. Visit for more information on free rides to vaccine appointments and our COVID-19 precautions.

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 bus beginning Wednesday, December 1, 2021, through Sunday, January 2, 2022. The decorated 40-foot bus will travel on various routes throughout the region. Passengers will have the opportunity to deposit a donation in the farebox benefiting a local charity to be announced later this month. Visit to see which routes the Holiday Bus will travel on.

Leave the driving to us and take SacRT to some cherished downtown holiday events. This year both the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink at Ali Youssefi Square (7th and K streets) in downtown Sacramento and Theatre of Lights at the Old Sacramento Waterfront are back - oth events open this month. Ride light rail or any downtown bus route to the rink and show your valid SacRT ticket or pass to receive $2 off admission.

For more information about these and other downtown holiday festivities, visit

If you plan to shop the Saturday after Thanksgiving, take advantage of free rides on SacRT for Small Business Saturday, November 27, 2021. To get your free ride flyer, visit

Thank you for your patience during the October service disruptions due to Caltrans construction and downtown special events. Crews were able to complete the work on the Brighton Bridge this past weekend so there will not be a service disruption on the Gold Line the weekend of November 6 and 7.

Before we get started, I also want to take this time to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving holiday.

Now let's get to your questions!

South Sacramento, CA:  What is likely to come regarding the Federal Transportation Security Administration mask mandate? Do you feel confident that with more Americans getting vaccinated and even getting their booster shot(s) that January 18th will be the last day of the mandate, or do you feel that the mandate will be extended again, and for approximately how much longer, if not indefinite?

Reply:  The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) initial mask face requirement went into effect on February 1, 2021 with an expiration date of May 11, 2021. It has since been extended twice based on guidance from the CDC. We expect to know more regarding the current mask mandate in December.

Folsom, CA:  My spouse and I are Kings season ticket holders and enjoy using Regional Transit’s Gold Line to and from the games. Our only concern is the Sunday games that begin at 6pm. There are only two, as the other Sunday games are earlier, like 3pm as an example of this Sunday against Indiana. While we are aware of the 8:54pm Sunday train at 7th and Capitol to Sunrise. It does not fully meet our expectations as it doesn’t serve the four stations east of Sunrise. When this occurs on Sunday 6pm game times, of which to my knowledge there is only one remaining in the 2021-2022 Kings home schedule, could an effort be made to extend this particular run to the four stations east of Sunrise? Thank you for your consideration.

Reply:  We have increased some service for Kings games including running 3-car trains to allow more room for fans to get to and from games. Also, on Sunday late games (starting at 7 p.m.), we are running an extra train from Sac Valley Station to pick up passengers since the games send after regular service hours.

Citrus Heights, CA:  How close is the Congress (House and Senate together) in acting on both the bipartisan infrastructure deal as well as the budget reconciliation act? Will a favorable vote, hopefully resulting in President Biden’s signature, result in additional operating funds for Regional Transit service improvements, as well as capital funding for things like fleet upgrades and additional light rail maintenance facilities to grow the rail service in the future?

Reply:  Thank you, great question. Today the House is working on clearing a procedural hurdle in preparation to vote on the the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA aka the infrastructure package). Should the House pass the legislation, it will go directly to the President for his signature. The IIJA contains a 30% increase in transit formula funds over current levels.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Later today I'm heading to Elk Grove. I looked up the schedules online and spotted a difference. On the full SacRT site, a line says to check out the new Elk Grove routes and schedules. It does list them all. However, on the mobile site I only saw the E113 listed. Please have someone look into this. Thanks!

Reply:  We will look into the website and mobile site, if you need assistance please contact SacRT Customer Service at 916-321-2877 if you need trip planning assistance

elk grove, CA:  Any updates on rail and e-shuttle in the east Franklin area?

Reply:  SacRT is currently updating our Short-Range Transit Plan, called SacRT on the Move. We are holding two virtual open houses this month and the draft plan is expected in January 2022. Delta Shores is one of the areas we’ve looked at as it has been an area of consistent requests. With the light rail station opening at Morrison Creek, that adds a little bit to the case to add service there. We have begun penciling out very simple shuttle routes from light rail to Delta Shores. The plans for the community and streets to be built out to Morrison Creek Station is tentatively scheduled for 2024. This is within the plan period for the Short-Range Transit Plan, so service to Morrison Creek and Delta Shores will be included in the document. Learn more about the plan at

Sacramento, CA:  Will Student Transit Passes from CSUS, Los Rios, etc be accepted on SmaRT Ride anytime soon or in the future? The SmaRT Ride I use does not accept them.

Reply:  We should accept CSUS and Los Rios student passes on SmaRT Ride. Please contact SacRT Customer Service is you have an issue in the future.

Citrus Heights, CA:  I'm glad to see the Holiday Bus is active again and that you brought it up. I saw the schedule that starts 1st day of December. However, some of us haven't been 100% sure in past years when to actually catch it. (There is an Elf in Citrus Heights, he wants to be riding one.) When we look at the 2021 schedule, the 1st line says "Wednesday, December 1, 2021 – Route 51." So we wonder, when on Route 51? What time? What run? We were thinking, could this listing be made more specific? And with technology, what if SacRT indicated in the Real Time Arrivals section of the online RT Tracker exactly which bus is the Holiday Bus for that day's route?

Reply:  I am happy you are looking forward to taking advantage of free rides on our annual Holiday Bus. The bus operates on a different route each day, all day. So on Wednesday, December 1, the bus will operate on route 51 all day long. We don't have a schedule for which specific trip it will be on each day, just which route.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  Hello Mr.Li, I would like to thank SacRT for expanding the Rancho SmaRT Ride fleet by one additional vehicle; it is reducing the high volume of denied rides and long wait times when all 3 rides are on duty. The city is also looking at a lane reduction on a portion of Coloma Rd and I hope RT will advocate for safer, and adequate, features to accommodate peds, cyclists, and BUSES along this road.

Reply:  Thank you. The Rancho Cordova SmaRT Ride zone is one of the more heavily utilized and popular zones we operate. We also launched a new Sunrise route at the end of August, you can find more information at

Citrus Heights, CA:  This week California Transit Association held its conference right here in Sacramento. I'm curious how it went. Did SacRT give presentations? If yes, what subjects did SacRT cover? Also, what were some of the major topics on attendees' minds, especially in light of current events and looking forward?

Reply:  We were honored to be the host city for the CTA's Fall Conference & Expo at the renovated SAFE Credit Union Convention Center. SacRT shared best practices during conference sessions, including discussing our RydeFreeRT program and touchless payment options.

North Highlands, CA:  Not so much a question to begin with, but first a compliment to thank you and Regional Transit for the upcoming service change on Route 19 to serve Elkhorn/Greenback to Auburn Boulevard staring on January 2nd. We had lost coverage along Elkhorn east of Watt in particular when the SacRT Forward bus network went into effect, and are glad that it is coming back. I had heard about it at a North Highlands Community Advisory Council Meeting. My follow-up question to you… Is the Sacramento Regional Transit District considering other service improvements for January 2, 2022 at this time? I would hope for earlier morning bus trips. I use Route 23 eastbound (Arden/Del Paso to Citrus Heights) as well as Route 87 southbound (Marconi/Arcade to University/65th Street) and am not able to get early morning trips like the riders do on these two routes traveling in the opposite direction as I do. I hope this is something you’re looking into and contemplating doing, despite a national workforce shortage of operators. Thank you for your time today and this month.

Reply:  We don't have any major service changes planned for January 2022, however, we have been looking at changes to Route 19, as part of our Short-Range Transit Plan update. We have two upcoming virtual open houses planned. Details are online at

Elk Grove, CA:  Does the Short Range Transit Plan include weekend service I. Elk Grove?

Reply:  At this stage, we’re not making recommendations. But we are looking at approximate cost and feasibility for a number of expansion options. And more weekend service in Elk Grove is one thing we are looking at.

South Sacramento , CA:  Any update on ridership numbers for light rail and bus service the past few months? Revenue?

Reply:  SacRT's ridership continues in an upward trajectory. In September 2021, compared to ridership in September 2020, we saw a 34% increase in trips. Specifically, bus ridership was up 57%, light rail was up 10% and demand response was up 40%. For the 1st quarter of this year (July through Sept), our total ridership is up 21.8%. The uptick in ridership is driven largely from SacRT's RydeFreeRT Program and students returning to the classroom and traveling to other destinations.

Citrus Heights, CA:  I understand that while some RT staff are not available, because of a staff shortage that we have to subcontract for SacRT-GO. But that won’t contracting out for drivers cost us money? Because, I thought the goal was to keep our para transit in house? Thanks.

Reply:  With the economy opening up and more and more people get vaccinated, SacRT has experienced a sharp increase in ADA paratransit trips with SacRT GO carrying nearly as many riders daily as we were pre-pandemic. As a result of this labor shortage, we have received a few complaints from paratransit riders regarding scheduling challenges. While workforce shortages are impacting all sectors of economy locally and nationally, we have implemented several new processes to improve recruitment and incentivize employment with SacRT. SacRT’s is seeking proposals for a broker for a small percentage of SacRT GO trips with other providers in order to meet the increased demand and realize efficiencies in the service. More than half of our paratransit riders are ambulatory and these brokered services will allow SacRT to meet increased mobility demands. We are hopeful these actions and improvements will better serve our customers.

Sacramento, CA:  Just wondering if there are any updates on the new light rail cars and also the dos rios station? How will the low-floor cars work in the current infrastructure when there will be a mix of old and new cars? Thank you!

Reply:  The new low-floor light rail cars will be arriving next year for testing and commissioning. We expect to have the first vehicles ready for revenue service in the early part of summer 2023. The low-floor and high-floor trains will run on the same line but will not be mixed. A train will consist of either all low-floor vehicles or all high-floor vehicles. The station platforms at all stations will be modified (raised to 8" above the rail) to allow for the deployment of the bridge plate/ramp on each of the low-floor vehicles. The first phase of platform modifications will take place on the Gold Line. The Dos Rios Station construction plans are complete and are being prepared for going out to bid. Construction is scheduled to begin in late spring 2022.

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will take place on Friday, December 3, 2021.