Transit Talk with the General Manager

August 04, 2023
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Welcome to the August 2023 edition of the Transit Talk Online Chat!

As summer break comes to end, and schools are getting ready to start again, I'd like to take a moment to remind local youth and their parents/guardians that students in transitional Kindergarten through 12th grade are eligible for RydeFreeRT, our youth fare-free transit program. The program includes SacRT buses, light rail and SmaRT Ride on-demand microtransit services.

New RydeFreeRT cards for the 2023-2024 school year are available at school locations and have a valid date from June 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024. For students that still need a RydeFreeRT card, visit SacRT's Customer Service and Sales Center located at 1225 R Street (adjacent to the 13th Street Light Rail Station) or Sacramento Public Libraries.

SacRT will be making several service adjustments this month. Small adjustments will be made on SacRT bus routes 19 and 61. For Elk Grove, routes E18, E111 and E113 will be adjusted. You can get the new timetables at

Also, adjustments will be made to three SmaRT Ride zones - Citrus Heights-Antelope-Orangevale, Downtown-Midtown-East Sacramento and Florin-Gerber. The Citrus Heights-Antelope-Orangevale and Downtown-Midtown-East Sacramento microtransit service zones will be reduced in size and the Florin-Gerber zone will expand slightly (at no additional cost). The changes aim to increase ridership and reduce cost per passenger. More info on this including new zone maps are available at

A new route is being added to provide bus service between Elk Grove and the UC Davis Medical Center. This route (bus route 137) will operate between four park-and-ride locations in the city of Elk Grove and the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. The express bus will start service on Tuesday, September 5, 2023, and operate Monday through Friday with six morning trips and six evening trips. Learn more at

Lastly, I'd like to invite interested members of the public to apply for our SacRT Transit Academy! This is a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at SacRT and its operations. SacRT proudly offers the Citizens Transit Academy because it directly supports building a strong vision for our region, the priorities of our ridership, and the success of our business and institutional partners. Learn more and apply now at

Now let's get to your questions!

Sacramento, CA:  Would it be feasible to add bus routes to service the many stops on our major thoroughfares. North South routes that cover all of Watt, Sunrise and East West routes like Florin, Fruitridge and El Camino, Greenback. Throw in some diagonal routes like Jst/Fairoaks and Auburn Blvd. These routes could become “spines” that other routes could feed into or out of.

Reply:  Thank you for your thoughtful question. Bus routes are planned based on a variety of factors, including housing density, retail businesses, job availability, and other transit connections. SacRT recently completed a Short-Range Transit Plan in 2022, which called for an increase in frequency on existing routes as well as a few additional routes. Funding availability is the limiting factor on increasing frequency or adding new routes. SacRT is continually seeking additional funding to increase our transit offerings and hope to expand our network. In light of the changing travel demands resulting from the COVID19 crisis, SacRT plans to reevaluation our current route network in the coming year and provide suggestions on how to optimize our transit in the Sacramento region.

Sacramento, CA:  When are you going to fix the elevators at the light rail Watt station. Being disabled does not make my time less valuable

Reply:  We are sorry for any negative experience you have had with SacRT's elevators at the Watt I80 Light Rail Station. SacRT’s elevator maintenance vendor has ordered several replacement parts for the elevator that have unfortunately due to supply chain issues have taken longer than expected to arrive. We expect the elevators to be repaired within the next two weeks. SacRT does continuously offer a bus shuttle to transport passengers from the upper level to the lower level if the elevator is out of service. Next year SacRT will be completely renovating and reconstructing the Watt/I-80 station with a focus on improved safety and accessibility.

Citrus heights, CA:  Hey. Two questions. I noticed there is changes coming to smart ride later this month. How come combining Carmichael with antelope Citrus Heights Orangevale wasn’t in the question? Also, I noticed route 21 was the special 50th anniversary wrapped bus. What routes this month will be utilizing this bus?

Reply:  Thank you for your questions. SacRT's is making small tweaks to two of the 9 SmarRT Ride zones we operate. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to combine the Citrus Heights and Carmichael zones. Combining zones can lead to excessive wait times and trip lengths. SacRT has a goal of wait time that do not exceed 30 minutes. Keeping zones separate allows for neighborhood level mobility, while allowing for fixed route connections. SacRT is operating the 50 Year Anniversary bus on different routes every day to allow community members across the region enjoy the bus. It is not currently on a specific route schedule. but I hope you will see it in the community. A special thank you to Gillig for sponsoring our bus wrap.


Reply:  If you could clarify your question, it would be helpful. The City of Folsom annexed their transit services into SacRT in 2018. We operate the bus service. You can read more here:

Sacramento, CA:  What are some options for future expansion of the LR system? Can we close the loop from Folsom stop to Watt-I80 stop by way of Greenback? Or, from ArdenDP to U65th via ArdenFair mall, Calexpo, Howe ave/Fairoaks, SacState? Or, a new loop route covering P and Q streets and up and down Stockton Blvd and then to the Florin Rd LRstop? These could start off as ded bus lanes before tracks are laid down.

Reply:  As you may know, SacRT is undertaking a Light Rail Modernization Program as we rollout new low-floor light rail vehicles on our system next year. Work on station modifications to accommodate the new trains will continue in September. And in October we are planning a groundbreaking for passing track in Folsom, that will allow for 15 minute service on the last seven miles of the Gold Line. For more information on our Modernization Project please visit: Additionally, SacRT assumed ownership of the streetcar project which would provide a rail crossing over the Sacramento River to West Sacramento. The program is in the federal Capital Investment Grant Program and is being progressed. We were also recently awarded funds to relocate the direction of SacRT's Sacramento Valley Light Rail Station. This is part of the future Sacramento Valley Loop project that will include new track and double tracking along 7th street. We are also progressing our High Capacity Bus Study to implement a network of bus rapid transit lines throughout the region. While I love your suggestion for additional light rail lines throughout the region, they come with a significant prices tag. SacRT currently received 1/6th of a penny in local sales tax, approximately five times less than our west coast peers. Without additional funding, these expansion projects would not be feasible.

Folsom, CA:  I’m curious to see if Sacramento Regional Transit has an updated schedule for when trains in Folsom will temporarily end/begin at Iron Point Station and if there has been a decision on either a bus bridge or providing 30-minute frequency of service on Route 10. My hope is for more service on Route 10, rather than a bus bridge. It seems to me that resources would be better utilized by investing in this existing bus route, especially between Iron Point Station and Historic Folsom Station. Thank you.

Reply:  We are anticipating that construction requiring a bus bridge will commence October/November 2023. Alternate service will be provided by a bus bridge to serve the Folsom stations and to meet our ADA requirements. SacRT will continue to operate Route 10 as normal.

Fair Oaks, CA:  I really enjoyed the last ride free day for everyone back on July 26th. Is another one of these planned and upcoming, or are the only free ride days ahead one’s in which a flyer must be shown, in lieu of regular fare?

Reply:  Yes! We have a systemwide free ride day planned for September 7, 2023, more information will be available on our website soon. In the mean time, please keep riding and enjoying the free ride flyers.

Sacramento, CA:  I noticed on your website that from 11pm to 1am, that train testing of the new trains is taking place between Royal Oaks and Watt/I-80 on weeknights. Will the district include any overnight testing anytime soon along the stations encompassing the gold line, say from 12am to 3am, when service is otherwise primarily not in operation so that the new trains get used to the gold line too?

Reply:  We are not currently planning on testing the new trains on the Gold Line. SacRT testing program keeps the trains close to the maintenance facility, along the Blue Line, in case repairs are needed. The Burn-in process may use the Gold line tracks due to the mileage requirements, but that would be sometime later this year.

Carmichael, CA:  Is a transportation measure being planned for the November 2024 ballot? I voted in favor of the one from 2022, and would always vote in favor of future measures, especially considering how other jurisdictions within California have locally/regionally invested in their systems, largely in part due to approved ballot measures for transportation. It really bothers me to this day that Sacramento County can’t even get 50% + 1 to approve a transportation measure, let along even 67%. Transportation is a basic daily need, and so I will always vote yes on transportation measures. That in and of itself is a no brainer to me.

Reply:  Thank you for your question. It is unclear if a transportation measure will be on the 2024 ballot or not. However, as I have mentioned, SacRT currently receives 1/6th of a penny in local sales tax support. Many of our peers have increased their local support significantly in recent years. In fact LA Metro now receives 9 times the local support SacRT receives

Rancho Cordova , CA:  When will there be platform modifications for the sunrise & historic Folsom stations?

Reply:  We are still refining the project schedule and I don’t believe we have those stations scheduled yet. Most likely the construction would be late fall or early winter as the platform modification will happen when we are doing the Folsom side track construction.

South Sacramento , CA:  Can you provide any numbers for ridership for both bus and light rail for the first half of this year?

Reply:  We recently completed FY23 with approximately 30% ridership increase above FY22. Through June in calendar year 2023, SacRT has carried 3.2 million Light Rail passengers, 3.9 million Fixed Route Bus passengers and 255k Demand Response passengers. Total ridership January - June 2023 is nearly 7.5 million passengers.

North Highlands, CA:  While the National Basketball Association has yet to release the 2023-2024 regular season schedule as of yet, is the Regional Transit District planning any expanded service on Kings home game dates? I live in North Highlands, and would hope that any service expansion on home game dates would include bus as well as light rail, along with some sort of financial commitment from the Golden 1 Center themselves to assist in covering any operating cost that this would otherwise have the district borne the cost of doing themselves? Thank you.

Reply:  Thank you and congrats to the Kings on making the playoffs last year. We will have internal discussions about the upcoming season once the schedule is released. We will continue to add trains cars for capacity as needed and depending the time of the games we may add an extra trip if needed.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  I have recently read exciting news that American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are going to begin nonstop service to two Florida destinations from Sacramento International Airport. With the airport increasing its nonstop flights to additional cities/markets, what plans does Regional Transit have in expanding bus service to the airport? The new service on American will serve Miami starting on December 21st, while the new Southwest service will serve Orlando on Saturdays only beginning on March 9th, from what I was told by both an airport employee and the airport’s Facebook Page.

Reply:  That is great news about additional flights. SacRT has operated the Airport Express Bus since 2020 and you can read more about the service here:

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will take place on Friday, September 1, 2023.