Transit Talk with the General Manager

April 01, 2022
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:

Welcome to the April edition of Transit Talk with the General Manager! SacRT service adjustments will take place this weekend on Sunday, April 3. Adjustments will be made to 14 routes to better align with current staffing levels, allowing buses to operate on a consistent and reliable schedule resulting in fewer canceled bus trips. No schedule adjustments will be implemented on light rail. For a full list of April service adjustments call 916-321-BUSS (2877) or visit

Looking ahead, SacRT is seeking public comment on proposed service adjustments for September of this year. The public comment period is open through Sunday, May 1, 2022, and can be made by email, phone, mail or in person. Please visit for details.

As we have been highlighting, SacRT is currently experiencing a driver shortage. While the nation is facing similar workforce challenges, here in Sacramento it's causing a strain on our transit services. Please know that we have been actively looking for innovative ways to quickly recruit more drivers, holding in-person hiring events, and even offering $2,000 sign-on bonuses and paid training. Additionally, to ensure the best service possible for SacRT GO paratransit customers, our most vulnerable customers, we are partnering with a private Adaptive Transportation Network Company called UZURV to provide supplemental transport service starting on Tuesday, April 19, 2022.

If you or someone you know is looking for a job or is ready for a career change, then look no further - SacRT is hiring! As I just mentioned, we are actively seeking people to join our award winning team. SacRT career opportunities include an extremely generous and competitive benefits package for medical, dental, and vision, paid sick leave, retirement, and tuition reimbursement. For a complete list of openings, visit our online career portal at or call SacRT Human Resources at 916-556-0298.

SacRT's popular Transit Academy is back. If you'd like to learn more about SacRT's planning process and how transit shapes our communities, apply now for the free five-class course that will be held once a week from May 4 through June 1. Applications for the 2022 Transit Academy will be accepted through Monday, April 18, 2022. Visit for information and to apply.

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than by taking public transit to where you need to go! SacRT will make it even easier by offering system-wide free rides on Earth Day, Friday, April 22, 2022. The free rides are available on all SacRT buses, light rail, SmaRT Ride and SacRT GO paratransit services. No flyer is needed to ride, just board and go!

Just a reminder, that the federal mask mandate is in effect through Monday, April 18, 2022, so please continue to wear a mask that covers both your nose and mouth while riding on all SacRT vehicles. All of us at SacRT appreciate your continued cooperation regarding this mandate.

Now let's get to your questions!

Citrus Heights, CA:  Will SacRT soon be able to install the contactless fare devices in buses, as well as “Connect Card” devices inside the light rail vehicles, including but not limited to the light rail vehicles currently in manufacturing status that will add to and also replace the existing light rail vehicle fleet?

Reply:  SacRT is in the process of evaluating the contactless fare payment demonstration on board light rail vehicles. The evaluation includes things such as customer feedback, durability of the hardware and flexibility of the back-office management system among other items. One of the other items we are looking into is the feasibility of adding the physical hardware to our bus fleet (fixed route, SmaRT Ride and SacRT GO) if the program were to expand. We will know more shortly about the future of this technology at SacRT. As for Connect Card devices on-board the light rail vehicle itself, this is a unique situation and presents some interesting challenges. The Connect Card system requires communications to be hard wired to the device. There is very little room to add power and communications cabling in our existing light rail vehicles. Additionally the Connect Card system requires multiple pieces of hardware to function. The "Tap" device for Connect Card is just one piece of the puzzle. The contactless fare payment system is a newer technology that operates wirelessly (other than power) and the device that you see is the only device needed in the field. This makes installation on a light rail car far more straight forward.

Sacramento, CA:  I saw the comprehensive report you have now posted to the SacRT website regarding potential late August 2022 service improvements/changes. What exactly are you and the SacRT team looking for from riders and non-riders in terms of participation in this process? Will additional invitations go out to solicit and receive both external and internal communications/suggestions on this particular project as it forges ahead during the Spring months?

Reply:  We want to make sure riders are aware of two upcoming service changes. First, starting this Sunday, April 3, SacRT will begin service changes on some bus routes in response to our ongoing operator shortage and to help ensure that we are able to reliably operate what is scheduled. More Information is available at Second, we are seeking public comment on September Service Changes, which would begin on Sunday, August 28. We are planning on restoring most of those temporary suspensions, and also adding a few other improvements to other routes. We are committed to having our operator shortage addressed by September. We are taking comments on it until May 1 and more information is available at

Folsom, CA:  I have tickets to Sundays 6pm NBA game at Golden 1 Center between the Kings and the Warriors. I am a bit concerned about light rail service upon the conclusion of the game. Games normally go two-and-a-half hours, barring any overtime. This in turn would mean approximately an 8:30pm game finish. With that in mind, it appeared to me that the 8:49pm Gold Line departure from Sacramento Valley Station on the Sunday/Holiday schedule appears to only travel as far as Sunrise. In consideration of the 6pm tip-off time of this Sunday’s game, would you take this into consideration and allow the 8:49pm train departure from Sacramento Valley Station to travel to Historic Folsom? This would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for looking into this.

Reply:  Thanks for asking! On Sunday, we have a 9:19 p.m. train that will go to Sunrise Station on the Gold Line. If there are still passengers on the train, it will continue all the way to Historic Folsom Station.

Rancho Córdova, CA:  I am curious about what local television news outlets are reporting on a Governor Newsom budget proposal to offer every transit agency in the State of California, enough funds to allow for three months of free fare transit service. What impact will that have to SacRT, and if approved by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor, would you consider September 1 to November 30 as the timeframe for this, especially as a way to roll out the September 2022 service changes and service improvements?

Reply:  Thank you for your question and we are looking forward to hearing more details about the proposal for three months of free transit. Should the program be implemented and gas prices continue to be at historic levels, I would expect a significant increase in ridership from a fare free program.

South Sacramento, CA:  A rider brought to my attention while we were riding together on a Blue Line train last month that the Sacramento City College Station will look a bit different in a couple of years with commuter rail and intercity passenger rail being added at that location. I was not aware of this, but the information I gained from it appears to be that exciting times are ahead. Is the Regional Transit District aware of the situation at Sacramento City College Station? How will this location allow for the incorporation of additional rail services adjacent to light rail? I would be curious to see how the black fence that is in place there today that separates light rail from freight rail will be removed and how much fence would need to be removed to allow for access between existing light rail and future passenger rail provided by others along the adjacent freight/passenger right-of-way?

Reply:  Yes, the project you're referring to is called Valley Rail. It is a joint project of the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission and the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority. These two bodies operate two existing train services--the Altamont Commuter Express (which runs from Stockton to San Jose) and the Amtrak San Joaquins (which run from Bakersfield to Sacramento and to Oakland, plus numerous thruway buses). The Valley Rail project will bring ACE train service to Sacramento and add new trips on the San Joaquin train service. It will do this by changing routes into Sacramento to a new corridor that has greater capacity. Today, the San Joaquin trains run along Elvas Avenue and north of B Street. They will change to the 20th Street tracks through midtown, which have more capacity for passenger trains. There will be a new station in Midtown, near 20th Street and Q Street. There will also be new stations at City College, in Del Paso Heights (near the Globe station), and at Elverta Road (to serve the airport with a shuttle bus). It's a very big, exciting project that has been in the works for many years. It is not a SacRT project, but we have representation on the board of the San Joaquin JPA and have been supporting the project. More Info:

Cameron Park, CA:  When are the schedule signs at each station going to work again? Most are blank.

Reply:  We apologize for the issues with our electronic message boards and are aware of the problem. We have been waiting on the hardware to upgrade four different types of electronic signs that we have at stations, which was delayed by the COVID-19 related supply chain issues. Currently, SacRT staff is working with a vendor to determine the steps necessary to upgrade each type of sign in order to deploy the new hardware and software. We anticipate all signs should back online within six months, but we hope some of them will be back in operation sooner.

Citrus Heights, CA:  How did your recent Bus Driver Hiring Events go? Please describe briefly what's involved from the time you hire a driver to when they actually start driving. By when do you expect these new drivers to serve the public?

Reply:  We had 165 people attend the hiring events in March and 95 people applied on-site during the events. On average, it takes two to three weeks to complete the pre-employment process and hire an applicant. Then SacRT offers paid training, which typically lasts about 4 weeks for experienced drivers or 10-12 weeks for drivers without previous experience.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Good afternoon, there used to be a stop at Dewey and Stratton when the 94 used to run through the area but when the 25 was rerouted the stop was never put back, is there a possibility that it can one day so I don’t have to walk from Greenback and Van Maren

Reply:  Yes, thank you for bringing this to our attention. I see that a request was put in to reopen old inactive bus stops at this location, but not completed. We will be looking into this. Thank you!

Citrus Heights, CA:  Recently I spoke to some who want to see a bus route go directly from eastern parts of Arden Arcade and Carmichael to Downtown. Currently we need to either change buses at Arden Fair or transfer from routes like 25 to Blue Line or 26 or 84 to Gold Line. We thought of making 129 an actual local bus beyond commuter service. If popular enough, this could even run on weekends too to serve areas by DoCo and Midtown. What do you think of a local route that accomplishes this?

Reply:  Thanks for the suggestions. We get fairly regular requests for more coverage of eastern Arden Arcade, for example, Arden Way, east of Watt. Until about 2012, there was all-day hourly service on Arden Way with the old Route 22, but ridership was very low east of Watt Avenue, where the population density becomes lower and where there are fewer low-income households, so that service was discontinued. It is probably an area we would consider if we had a major increase in funding, but otherwise might not have the demand and the demographics to justify a return to all-day service. You also asked about having routes like 25 or 26 or 84 go all the way to downtown. This is probably not something we would do, because it would be highly redundant with light rail.

Folsom, CA:  When does construction begin on building a second track that will ultimately allow for 15-minute frequency to/from Stations between Hazel Avenue and Sutter Street?

Reply:  The construction work will start in Summer 2022 and is expected to be complete by late 2023. We will continue to update this project online at

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will take place on Friday, May 6, 2022.