Transit Talk with the General Manager

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

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

December is the last month to take advantage of free transit rides to scheduled COVID-19 vaccine appointments. Ride SacRT for free through Friday, December 31, 2021, to all vaccination sites in Sacramento County within SacRT's service area, including hospitals, pharmacies, and other immunization locations.

To ride free, just show a COVID-19 vaccine appointment confirmation in the form of an email, text, or vaccine card, which will be your valid fare only on the date noted in your appointment confirmation.

SacRT still requires anyone riding transit or visiting the SacRT Customer Service and Sales Center located at 1225 R Street, to wear a mask. Visit for more on our COVID-19 precautions.

Last month, SacRT held two Short-Range Transit Plan (SRTP) virtual open house events and I'm happy to report that we had a great response, with over 30 members of the public participating. During both events, SacRT staff successfully shared updates and provided opportunities for the community to share their thoughts and ideas about future service plans for the region. SacRT staff will spend the next several weeks analyzing the feedback received and will prepare a draft document for public review in January 2022.Visit for more information.

Interested in a career with a winning team? If so, you are in luck. SacRT was awarded the 2021 Outstanding Transit System of the Year by the American Public Transportation Association and we are hosting two in-person hiring events this month. There are dozens of career opportunities, which include medical, dental, paid sick leave and retirement benefits. Also, $2,000 signing bonuses for bus drivers!

Stop by SacRT's Auditorium at 1400 29th Street in Sacramento on Wednesday, December 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or Tuesday, December 14 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. You can learn more about the hiring process and what to bring with you at or call 916-321-BUSS (2877). If you are unable to attend a SacRT hiring event in person, you can apply online using our online career portal at

'Tis the season, and there is no shortage of holiday events taking place in the Sacramento region - I hope you will take advantage of riding SacRT to get to them! The Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink at 7th & K streets is open Tuesday through Sunday until January 16, 2022. The annual Theatre of Lights in the Old Sacramento Waterfront is a family-friendly show that offers two performances on Thursdays through Sundays at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. through Thursday, December 23, 2021. Additional performances are scheduled for Tuesday, December 21 and Wednesday, December 22.

For more information about the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink, Theatre of Lights, and more downtown holiday events, visit Avoid parking hassles and take SacRT to these fun holiday events. For trip planning assistance, visit or call 916-321-BUSS (2877).

SacRT partnered with Mix96 to offer free rides to the 38th Annual Santa Parade on Saturday, December 11, in downtown Sacramento. The parade starts at 10 a.m.
Visit to simply print or screenshot the flyer to ride fixed-route bus and light rail for free.

You can also take SacRT for free to the New Year's Eve Sky Spectacular! This favorite New Year's Eve tradition is also free! Family-friendly festivities get underway at 6 p.m. on Friday, January 31, 2021. The fireworks show starts at 9 p.m., not midnight, so be sure to arrive early. To ride fixed-route bus and light rail for free, visit to simply print or screenshot the flyer.

Lastly, be sure to catch a free ride on SacRT's Holiday bus! The colorfully decorated bus travels on various routes through January 2, 2022. While no fare is required on the Holiday Bus, you can donate to the charity Civic Thread, formerly WALKSacramento. To learn more about Civic Thread and to view the Holiday Bus schedule, visit

Please visit the SacRT alerts page to learn about service detours and disruptions, such as those for the California International Marathon on Sunday, December 5, 2021. Also, check the schedules and services page for service hours on all bus and light rail for the Christmas and New Year's holidays. This information can also be found in the December issue of our passenger newsletter, Next Stop News.

I hope you have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season.

Now let's get to your questions!

Sacramento, CA:  How does SacRT hope to take advantage of new federal funds approved back in November from the infrastructure investment jobs act to improve and increase service? I had watched a couple of recorded webinars on your short range transit plan, and, after watching them, would hope that this new funding opportunity would be something SacRT would use towards some of those service improvements and more not mentioned, as well as addressing some of the district’s capital needs as well. Could you elaborate a bit on what I have mentioned here? Thank you.

Reply:  The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will prepare the Sacramento region for the next 100-years by rebuilding and replacing infrastructure that is nearing the end of its useful life. Formula and competitive funding to SacRT will promote safety, help us combat the climate crisis, and advance equitable access to transportation. SacRT envisions a resilient and more equitable mobility network through increased funding and support, and we could not be more excited about what the future holds. We are prioritizing our Light Rail modernization, zero emission fleet conversion and light rail expansion and bus rapid transit.

Carmichael, CA:  I read the December NextStop News and didn’t find what I was looking for there, or on the SacRT website. In preparation for January 2022, and the first calendar quarter of 2022, I was looking to see and prepare for January 2022 route, schedule, and service changes. Am I the only one missing something? Where can I find the January 2022 service changes and/or service improvements, or are any changes and improvements on hold until April 2022 or second calendar quarter of 2022? Thank you.

Reply:  Thanks for reading Next Stop News! There are no service changes planned for January or April. If we decide some changes are needed for April, we will be sure to provide advance notice to our riders.

Sacramento, CA:  Will there be any impacts to light rail lines this Sunday due to the California International Marathon, or will light rail always have priority over the runners in locations where light rail and the race course meet?

Reply:  There should not be impacts to light rail service due to the California International Marathon on Sunday, December 5, 2021. There will be impacts to bus routes because of road closures. More details are available at

Unincorporated Sacramento County, CA:  What is SacRT and other area transit operators doing to address the national driver labor shortage. I have been victimized by it several times due to trip cancellations and am at risk myself of losing my ability to maintain full time employment because my employer is judging my attendance and punctuality as unreliable. I have explained to them numerous times about the trip cancellations and all they have told me to do is leave home much earlier so that I wouldn’t risk as much as I do now of being late to work. Most of the time, due to needs I have to take care of at home, leaving earlier is not always an option.

Reply:  While many of our peer Transit Agencies have been forced to suspend routes as a result of the labor shortage, SacRT has been thankful to maintain 100% service levels. We are working to minimize trip cancellations while we implement a variety of initiatives to address the workforce shortage. We are holding two upcoming in-person hiring events to hire more bus operators, which should assist with any cancellations or delays you may have been experiencing.

Citrus Heights, CA:  I saw the Holiday Bus this morning on the 1-GREENBACK. I'm planning on catching it later today. This got me wondering, does Santa Claus ever appear on the Holiday Bus? (I heard Santa has his own RT, called Reindeer Transport. It excels in Planning & Scheduling, having to visit so many places and be on time.) I think Santa would be a welcome surprise, and could encourage donations on the Holiday Bus. Would this be possible?

Reply:  We don't have a Santa on the SacRT Holiday Bus, but we are looking at ideas for next year, stay tuned!

Sacramento, CA:  I've applied to drive your 40 foot buses and apparently you don't want to hire "big" bus drivers, you'd rather fill the low paying shorter bus service first. With all of my friends saying their bus never comes, is this really the best business decision for SACRT?

Reply:  We are currently hiring for all bus driver positions and we are holding two hiring events in December to get more bus drivers to apply. Please contact SacRT Human Resources at 916-556-0298 or visit to learn more.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Why are we having so many bus trip cancellations lately? I find mysElf visiting the Service Alerts page so often daily. It's weird how I now have this habit after looking at SacRT schedules to see if the trip I have in mind is actually alive . Last week I saw 46 trips canceled one day and 58 another. Yesterday it looked worse, it was up to 70. This morning I was more surprised to see an even higher 82. What is causing this extremely high number of canceled bus trips? Is it equipment failure, drivers feeling ill? What is being done to address this, to turn this around? I'm really concerned, especially when we want to see ridership improve post-pandemic.

Reply:  While many of our peer Transit Agencies have been forced to suspend routes as a result of labor shortages, SacRT has been thankful to maintain 100% service levels. We are working to minimize trip cancellations while we implement a variety of initiatives to address the workforce shortage. We are holding two in-person hiring events in the coming weeks, which should help reduce any cancellations you may be experiencing. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working to improve our service for the region.

South Sacramento , CA:  How are the ridership levels for bus and light rail for the past few months? Have they reached levels to pre pandemic levels? What routes are the busiest?

Reply:  Ridership has grown recently on the bus side primarily due to students returning to the classroom and the extension of the RydeFreeRT program. Bus ridership is now over 50% of pre-pandemic levels. Light Rail ridership has continued to be relatively flat holding steady at around 40% of pre-pandemic levels. Our historically high ridership routes, (51, 81, 30) remain our highest ridership routes, but there has been substantial growth recently in routes that serve student populations (81, 72, 11, 200 series) due to the RydeFreeRT program.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  Why does your website not show canceled trips for Rail like it does for bus? I've missed appointments due to canceled service and I think it would be nice to be able to plan in advanced. thank you.

Reply:  We have a service alerts page specific for bus routes on You can check for any bus cancellation on that page. We are also launching a new SacRT BusTracker to help with trip planning on bus routes.

Sacramento, CA:  Is there going to be a Martin Luther King Junior March for the Dream on January 17th? Last year, I know, there wasn’t due to COVID-19. I hope that will return in 2022 as many things have from one year ago. SacRT has done both a wonderful and excellent job in past years for the “March for the Dream” including the showcasing of the old blue bus inside the Safe Credit Union Convention Center. So yes, is that an activity that both riders and the transit district look forward to doing on January 17th, or does it appear that this will be postponed for at least another year?

Reply:  Unfortunately the Expo and in-person march will be postponed another year due to concerns about COVID-19. According to the Martin Luther King Jr. March for the Dream website,, there will be a virtual march and you can register for it online.

Sacramento, CA:  There’s been a lot of talk about a light rail line to the airport. “Every city should have a train to the airport.” Has there been any serious study of this: possible ridership, the cost, and so on. I doubt that such a rail line would be financially feasible. (I realize transit does not pay for itself, but is a public service. Still, there are limits.) I have ridden Yolobus to the airport several times. As I recall, only once was there another passenger getting off at the airport. I was usually the only one disembarking. Passengers with baggage (the usual situation) will not want to take the train to the airport, particularly when the train stop will be located far from the terminals, as will certainly be the case. It may be that airport employees would be the main clients for this train service. Has there been any surveys of their wishes? In short, I think that regular bus service would better serve the airport than an expensive train. Of course, the same could be said of the Green Line.

Reply:  The Green Line project continues to be a priority for SacRT. The project is still active but the postponement of the sales tax ballot initiative in 2020 has limited the necessary local funding for the project. Further development of matters such as location of stations, route alignment and funding are needed before environmental review/clearance can be completed and design can be initiated. SacRT is in the process of refreshing the project including updates to the project website, championing local support, updating costs, and developing online and in-person workshops. Please contact SacRT Project Manager Kevin Schroder for more information. Mr. Schroder can be reached at

Rancho Cordova, CA:  following up on my question about canceled trips on rail. I am aware the website has a list of bus trips. you cancel trips on rail too and should publish that list so we can prepare too. thank you for your consideration.

Reply:  The alerts page also has a section for light rail trips. We also push out information about delayed light rail trips on the Alert SacRT App. We are also working on a real-time train tracker to help riders track their train.

Hayward, CA:  Has RT considered a tiered system for the light rail based on the distance traveled between stations? Meaning the farther you go, the more the fare is, also where are new trains for light rail that I have heard about.

Reply:  SacRT has looked into tiered fare or distance based fare in the past, but implementation of this type of fare is difficult and can often times confuse customers. SacRT used to offer a central city fare for passengers who rode within the downtown area. Enforcement of the fare was difficult and widespread fraud was a concern. At this time SacRT is not pursuing a distance based fare but as technologies continue to improve we may investigate this again in the future. SacRT has purchased 20 new low-floor light rail vehicles from Siemens Mobility. We expect to get the first new trains in 2023.

Rancho Cordova , CA:  About the onboard tap and go payment as I used it in September's 1 dollar discount does the tap charge you every tap as it seems like every one of my taps was charged even if it was in the 90 minute window while switching trains and was just wondering since it's normal priced now has there been an update that doesn't charge if you tap again inside that 90 minute window?

Reply:  You still have the 90-minute window when you tap to ride on light rail. More details on the program are available at

Rancho Cordova , CA:  About the Folsom double track project is there a time frame you are expecting construction to start and when it does will work start first on the Hazel Station end or on the Glenn Station end?

Reply:  Construction is expected to take approximately two years with start of service by late 2023. Upon project completion, trains will arrive in, and depart from, downtown Folsom every 15 minutes.

Folsom, CA:  Will SacRT Board Meetings return to in-person with a hybrid teleconference option for those still hesitant about being in-person, or does the district foresee that board meetings and other community interactive events like short range transit plan presentations will only occur virtually for the future?

Reply:  We have been reassessing the situation on a regular basis and our biggest challenge remains to be the limited size of our current Boardroom. Staff is exploring options to address this and we will update the public as plans are solidified. Our priority is the safety of our customers, members of the public attending the meetings and our employees.

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager will take place on Friday, Janaury 7, 2022. Happy New Year!