Transit Talk with the General Manager

February 04, 2022
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

Welcome to the February 2022 edition of Transit Talk with the General Manager.

Last week, Sacramento was honored with a visit from Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06). During her visit she announced significant mobility improvements benefitting the Sacramento region as a result of the new federal bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is the largest long-term investment in infrastructure and the economy in our nation’s history and provides more than $108 billion for public transit. This investment in public transportation will help Sacramento and the nation tackle climate change, advance equity, meet growing and evolving mobility demands, and create jobs. The law provides more than $10 billion in transit funding for California.

Previously, SacRT was awarded $170 million by the state of California specifically for the Gold Line to modernize the light rail fleet, including the purchase of 20 new low-floor light rail trains, make station modifications, and add a “passing track” near Folsom to provide 15-minute service.

On April 15, 2020, SacRT signed the notice to proceed to purchase the first 20 new low-floor light rail vehicles from Siemens Mobility, Inc. In December 2021, an additional eight new low-floor light rail vehicles were added to the contract. SacRT subsequently secured $46.4 million for the purchase.

The new low-floor vehicles will have low level boarding at every doorway, a spacious seating design, and large windows for better light and views. They will feature improved accessibility with wider aisles and areas for bicycles. The new low-floor vehicles will increase overall operational flexibility by providing more access to passengers with disabilities and others boarding with strollers, bicycles and other mobility devices. The first low-floor vehicles are scheduled to be ready for SacRT service by fall 2023. Learn more about the project at

SacRT continues to move forward with the update of the Short-Range Transit Plan (SRTP), and the five-year service plan included in the SRTP document. The concepts for the service improvements are a combination of items resulting from the SacRT Forward project, as well as inquiries brought forth through unmet transit needs and customer feedback. SacRT will host a virtual event on Thursday, February 10, 2022, to share the plan and provide an opportunity for additional feedback. Meeting details will be posted on the SRTP web page.

Development of the full draft document is scheduled to be presented to the SacRT Board of Directors on Monday, February 14, 2022, at which time SacRT will also begin a 30-day public review and comment period. Additional outreach meetings will be scheduled during the comment period in the month of March. Visit for more information.

I would like to remind everyone that the pandemic and national workforce shortage is impacting SacRT similar to other industries, and as a result bus and light rail service may be delayed or cancelled. I encourage you to check,, use the free Alert SacRT app, or call Customer Service at 916-321-BUSS (2877) for information.

Lastly, federal mandate requires wearing a mask on transit through March 18, 2022. Free masks are available at the SacRT Customer Service and Sales Center at 1225 R Street (13th Street Light Rail station). Mask up for a safe ride!

Now let’s get to your questions.

Sacramento, CA:  I have a personal folding electric scooter that I need to get me the last mile as the bus does not go to fruitridge and watt. I have been taking it on the bus for the last 2 years with no problems and now the afternoon drivers won't let me on. I think there is confusion with the rental scooters vs personal. can you clraify the rule . not being able to ride you will lose this 1000 / yr customer

Reply:  I apologize that you have received misinformation. Due to safety concerns, it is SacRT's policy not to allow electric scooters on board buses. Our policy has been updated on our website and shared with staff.

Sacramento, CA:  I know SacRT has some “surplus” lands, particularly around LRT stations. Would the district ever consider long-term leases to developers instead of outright real estate sales, in order to generate more revenue for RT and keep public assets public?

Reply:  Thank you for your question. Yes, we have considered long-term leases to developers and have interest in doing that.

Rosemont, CA:  Good morning! With the federal infrastructure money hopefully being allocated soon and the Gold Line Modernization project beginning, what is the status on the Green Line extension to SMF? The website hasn't been updated in a long time and it's a very exciting project! Also wondering if there's any project in the works for the rumored light rail expansion to West Sacramento.

Reply:  The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) will certainly help SacRT with capital expansion projects. We are currently updating the environmental document for the Green Line and working with the city to progress initial phases of the project, such as the Sacramento Valley Loop and American River Bridge crossing. We are hopeful that with state and federal funding, we can receive more than 75% of the project cost from outside sources.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Where can I obtain an itemized list of SacRT draft service improvements over the next five years? I am unavailable to attend the February 10th virtual workshop as it happens to occur in the last hour of my workday.

Reply:  I'm sorry you cannot attend the meeting. Please contact Sarah Poe in our Planning Department regarding service improvements. She can be reached at We will also have updates posted on the webpage

Folsom, CA:  When will construction begin on the second track to Folsom and the stations throughout the gold line? Also, will it be necessary to schedule planned bus bridges during the upcoming construction?

Reply:  Construction on the Gold Line "passing track" is scheduled to begin later this year. And, yes, bus bridges or shuttle buses will be needed during construction. We will be sure to provide as much advance notice as possible during this time. More information will be shared on our website at

Elk Grove, CA:  I am at work during the upcoming February 10th webinar for the short range transit plan. Will SacRT consider scheduling other webinar times and dates so as to attract a broader audience that is available on other days and times?

Reply:  Thank you for your interest. Yes, there will be more virtual meetings scheduled during the public comment period, which is anticipated to start after February 14, when staff presents to the Board. Future meetings will be offered at different times of the day to ensure maximum participation. More information will be available on our website at

Rancho Córdova, CA:  Once the light rail modernization program is complete, does SacRT expect to improve the span of service hours or will service span remain unchanged, effectively neither giving cities and communities any community benefits when all is said and done, but rather the same benefits that service areas currently benefit from, today?

Reply:  Construction of a "passing track" on the Gold Line will indeed improve service with trains operating every 15 minutes. More information on this project is available on our website at

Natomas, CA:  I recently took SacRT to Downtown and Route 142 to a flight at Sacramento International Airport. My outbound flight was later in the day, allowing me to take two routes to the airport. With regards to this and the short range transit plan, does SacRT anticipate an extension of Route 11 or Route 13 from Natomas to the airport? For early morning flights, and a good number of service hours that are both early in the day and late in the day, I would use this directly from Natomas, whereas now, I have to find another way. I hope you’ll be taking this into consideration. Thank you.

Reply:  We are preparing to release our draft Short-Range Transit Plan (SRTP) covering the next five years. In the draft SRTP, there will be a map and cost estimate for a potential extension of Route 11 from North Natomas to the Airport, primarily via Elkhorn Blvd. In the long run, this service would likely be replaced by the Green Line extension. Learn more about the project and upcoming meetings at

Citrus Heights, CA:  I had wanted to attend your February 10th webinar, but am unavailable due to work hours. I would like to leave my comment(s) here regarding fixed route service in Citrus Heights. I hope that SacRT will consider changing Route 23 to continue along San Juan, Sylvan, and Auburn to Louis/Orlando. Since the elimination of Route 95 some time ago, we have no fixed route bus service along Sylvan. Taking this route off Greenback would not be as bad as some would think as Greenback would still have frequent service on route 1. Realigning route 23 to serve Sylvan would provide this portion of Citrus Heights with good community benefits. Thank you for taking my comments into consideration.

Reply:  I am sorry you cannot attend the meeting. Please note that there will be more virtual meetings scheduled during the public comment period, which is anticipated to begin after February 14, when staff presents it to the Board. Future meetings will be offered at different times of the day to ensure maximum participation. In the meantime, I will be sure to pass along your comments to our Planning Department. You can also contact Sarah Poe in Planning directly at More details will be shared at

Citrus Heights, CA:  During the last 2 Transit Talks I expressed troubling concern towards the extremely high number of Bus Trip Cancellations. Instead of looking at bus schedules first to plan trips, my #1 page before any trip was the SacRT Service Alerts page. In December 2021 I saw numbers bordering on 100 bus trips cancelled. Worse, one day in January I saw a record high of 182. It was a serious problem which others raised during the January 2022 SacRT Board Meeting..... And now we've got a much better picture. In the last week of January and this first week of February, I've seen much lower numbers like 33. Now Friday before noon, I was pleasantly surprised to see only 27. So I am changing my tune from one of grave anxiety to one of great appreciation. I'm very grateful that you and your team have really improved this situation. I'm also hopeful this means the vast majority of SacRT personnel are in much better health physically and mentally. Thank you all for your efforts in turning things around.

Reply:  Thank you for your comments. The health and safety of our passengers and employees is a priority. With the continuing pandemic and a workforce shortage, similar to other industries, some bus and light rail service may be delayed or cancelled. We will continue to post information on the SacRT Alerts page, which I hope you continue to monitor. And please know that our HR staff is working diligently to hire more operators and our dispatch teams are working to reduce cancelations.

Citrus Heights, CA:  When recently at the Customer Service center at R St, I was hoping to find a hard copy of the latest system map dated August 29, 2021. They said only the 2019 version was available. Yes, the map is available online, however, it'd be nice to have copies of the updated physical one which is displayed at some bus stops and light rail stations.

Reply:  We updated system maps in September 2021 at our light rail stations, transit centers, and bus shelters. We stopped printing due to cost and lack of demand during the pandemic. If you see a map that is not updated, you can report it on the Alert SacRT App and our facilities team will get it replaced.

Citrus Heights, CA:  This question is about SmaRT Ride Drivers: Are SmaRT Ride Drivers allowed to be *smart*? In other words, are they only follow the routes and stop order set by their onboard navigators? Or can they use their own brains to rearrange trips for the benefit of passengers and faster service? ..... Let me explain what I've seen repeatedly in the Citrus Heights Service Area. Let's pretend we have 2 passengers, each at opposite ends of the zone. Passenger 1 (P1) is by the west side and Passenger 2 (P2) is at the east. P1 and P2 are each taking long trips spanning much of the zone. P1 booked their ride first and P2 booked theirs slightly later. Next, while the SmaRT Ride bus takes P1 to their destination, a 3rd Passenger located between P1 and P2 books their ride. P3 is heading to an area very close to where P1 is going..... So my question is this: can the SmaRT Ride Driver pick up P1, then P3 and later P2? Or are they obligated to pick them up as P1, P2, P3? ..... I live by Greenback Lane and frequently see my assigned SmaRT Ride vehicle pass by. I also monitor the map on my phone to see how they go back and forth across long distances, so close to where I wanted to go. Sometimes the order and paths taken seem really long and time-consuming, in addition to the wait. I wonder, what thought has been given towards real-time consolidation and dispatching of SmaRT Ride trips, especially with human intervention?

Reply:  SacRT’s SmaRT Ride scheduling software optimizes each ride and additional rides as they are being requested according to the route that the driver is currently on. When a driver deviates from the established route, they create unintended consequences for the riders and potential riders, like longer wait times or more "seat unavailable" messages, as the software would have to wait for the driver to get back on the planned route to accept rides again.

Sacramento, CA:  How is the new LRT vehicle acquisition/deployment going? What’s the status?

Reply:  Thanks for asking. We recently held a press conference at Siemens Mobility in south Sacramento to announce our contact for an additional eight low-floor light rail vehicles Currently Siemens Mobility is working on building 28 new light rail vehicles for the SacRTsystem and we are working on additional funding to replace all of our light rail vehicles. The first low-floor vehicles are scheduled to be ready for revenue service to SacRT by the end of 2023. More information on the project is available at

Sacramento, CA:  You indicated in your written introduction that the SRTP will have additional outreach throughout the month of March. Will the outreach include days, nights, and weekends, as well as consider outreach in-person, virtual, and a hybrid of the two so as to obtain the broadest audience possible? The more opportunities offered, the more transparent and available it will become to more people as there will be choices to select from, based on an individual’s availability. Thank you.

Reply:  Outreach events may be scheduled during the morning, midday, and evening so that we are providing a variety of options to accommodate different work/life schedules. At this time, we will continue to hold events virtually rather than schedule in-person meetings, due to the pandemic. We hope to have a Street Team on board soon, who will help share information with current riders.

South Sacramento , CA:  How are ridership numbers for both bus and light rail for 2021?

Reply:  During calendar year 2021, SacRT estimates that we carried 9,322,185 passengers in total. 4,058,160 passengers on light rail and 5,264,025 across all bus services.

Folsom, CA:  Is there a plan to extend the Gold Line beyond the current Historic Folsom Station? Thanks

Reply:  Thank you for your interest. Continuing to extend our light rail system is our ultimate goal, but at this time, we are focused on our Light Rail Modernization project which will modernize the light rail system with new low-floor light rail vehicles, update station platforms and add "passing track" to Folsom area stations to allow for 15-minute service.

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will take place on Friday, March 4, 2022.