Transit Talk with the General Manager

September 01, 2023
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
It's that time again – the September edition of our Transit Talk online chat is here.

If this is your first time joining the chat, my name is Henry Li and I am the General Manager/CEO of SacRT. Whether you're a daily commuter, an occasional traveler, or someone new to our services, this chat is your opportunity to get your questions answered. Have questions about September service adjustments, safety measures, or exploring the best routes for those autumn outings? We've got you covered!

I’d like to begin by reminding you about Labor Day service. In honor of the Labor Day holiday, Monday, September 4, 2023, SacRT fixed-route bus and light rail will operate on a Sunday/holiday schedule. SacRT GO paratransit services will operate regular service. All other transit services will not operate. The Customer Service Center phone lines will be open from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m.; however, the Sales Center will be closed.

Also, September 4, 2023, is the last day to submit your applications for the 2023 Citizens Transit Academy! The academy is a free five-class course designed to educate and engage residents, business and community leaders about our planning process and how public transit shapes our communities. Classes will be held once a week, on Wednesday evenings, over a five-week period between September 27 – October 25, 2023. To apply, please visit

This month, SacRT is holding two in-person hiring events - Tuesday, September 12 and Wednesday, September 20, 2023. There are a variety of career opportunities available. However, you don’t have to wait for the hiring event, apply online today at! Learn more about the hiring events at

I’m happy to share that SacRT is offering systemwide free rides on Thursday, September 7, 2023, in recognition of the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies. Free rides will be available on all bus, light rail, SmaRT Ride and SacRT GO paratransit services. No flyer is needed, simply get on board and ride free to help keep our air clean! Learn more at

It’s expected to be another busy month for SacRT, we will continue work to complete the modifications to Gold Line station platforms. Construction and bus bridges are scheduled for the weekends of September 16 – 17, September 23 – 24, and September 30 – October 1. Learn more at

We are also excited to launch a new bus service called the Elk Grove/UC Davis Medical Center Express (bus route 137) on Tuesday, September 5, which will operate between the city of Elk Grove and the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. The express bus will operate Monday through Friday with six morning trips and six evening trips. Learn more at

I also want to remind riders about the September service changes that went into effect at the end of August. This includes bus routes 19 and 61, and three SmaRT Ride zones - Citrus Heights-Antelope-Orangevale, Downtown-Midtown, and Florin-Gerber.

Remember, courteous and respectful communication is the route we always take here. So, without further ado, let's dive into the September Transit Talk Online Chat.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Good morning. Would SacRT ever consider extending LR hours downtown by 30 minutes? I attended a sold out concert at G1 on 8/25 and while I took LR there, I had to wait 45 minutes for an uber to get back to my car. The last train out departs before 11:00pm

Reply:  Thanks for asking. Our Light Rail team often runs extra trains after large events at the Golden 1 Center, depending on the number of people in attendance (usually 10,000+). We have the extra trains stored waiting for a large event to end to pick up more passengers. And for the large events that end past regular scheduled train service we add one extra trip to make sure attendees make the return trip back.

Sacramento , CA:  Good afternoon, I have a question regarding service on SacRT Route 81 (Florin). My question concerns the reduction of service on this route that took place in April of 2022, during which frequencies on route 81 were reduced from 15 minutes to 30 minutes during the majority of the service day, with 15 minute service at peak. My question is, has this reduction of service been made permanent? As per your agency’s May 9, 2022 Staff Report, Route 81 “serves disproportionately high minority and low-income populations, so if the April 2022 suspensions were made permanent, it could contribute to the overall package of changes having a disparate impact on disadvantaged populations.” I would like to ask if this reduction of service on route 81 has indeed been made permanent, if there are plans to restore 15 minute service, and if analysis has shown that this reduction does not present an excess burden on Florin Road’s high percentage low income population. Thank you so much for your time.

Reply:  In January 2023, SacRT made the formerly temporary reductions (complete or partial) to Routes 81, 107, 134, 142, and 193 permanent. The analysis noted that Route 81 was the only route on this list that was above average for minority and low-income ridership. The analysis went on to find that it was not discriminatory to keep Route 81 as-is, at a reduced level of service, as long as the other four routes were also maintained as-is. The staff report from January 23, 2023 is available on our website at

W Sacramento , CA:  When will the direct line from downtown Sac to Sac airport be build and how long will take it to complete this project

Reply:  Thank you for your inquiry regarding the Sacramento Regional Transit (SacRT) Green Line to the Sacramento Airport project. In regard to your specific inquiry, the Green Line project continues to be a priority for SacRT, but, as indicated on the website, Federal activity on the project is paused. The primary reason for the pause status was due to the postponement of the sales tax ballot initiative in 2020 that would have provided necessary local funding for the project. Further development of issues 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.

Antelope, CA:  Hey Henry li. With the rise in gas prices, won’t that make bus and light rail more feasible? If so, would the rising gas prices lead to any fare hikes in the future?

Reply:  Thank you for asking. At this time, we don't have any plans to increase fares for riders.

Carmichael , CA:  Back in August, local television news reports mentioned of the potential of a November 2024 ballot measure addressing housing, public transportation, and roadway maintenance. What was the official title of the measure being called? I ask this question now so that I can be a better prepared and better educated voter for the 2024 election season. I will vote “yes” so as to help get the measure passed and the funding coming in.

Reply:  Sacramento Mayor Steinberg has proposed a measure he is calling the "Climate, Clean Transportation and Affordable Housing Act of 2024." However, it is important to note it has not qualified for the ballot yet, and there are other organizations also considering other similar measures. More information is available at

Sacramento, CA:  What is the progress on operator recruitment and successfully making it through training? I look forward to your answer on this, especially as it relates to trip cancellations on both bus and light rail.

Reply:  SacRT is continually hiring for bus operators, we just started eight new bus operators today! We are even holding two hiring events this month to continue those efforts. Our bus cancellations rates for July was .05% and August .06% which is the lowest we have had all year. Also, we recently graduated four Light Rail operations and have another graduation class of four more operators at the end of this month, which will significantly assist with any Light Rail cancellations.

Elk Grove, CA:  How did things go last Saturday with regards to service to/from Sacramento City College for the Sacramento Republic match? Do you anticipate doing any special service either on bus as well as on light rail in conjunction with the Sacramento Kings and DOCO for their upcoming season that is scheduled to tip-off next month?

Reply:  SacRT was very excited to partner with Sacramento Republic FC for last Saturday’s match. As part of the partnership, we offered free rides with a valid admission ticket, and we operated four special service trains to assist with take away service after the soccer game. We plan to continue to have special service trains during the Kings games to assist with our ridership based on event attendance.

Arden/Arcade, CA:  I noticed that next Thursday (September 7th) is a free ride day without the need to show a flyer. Do you anticipate Sacramento Regional Transit doing any additional free ride days like this, in which it is not contingent upon showing a flyer, after September 7th, but before the New Year’s Day Holiday?

Reply:  Thanks for asking, we have a few more days planned in 2023, but our next systemwide free ride day will be in recognition of California Clean Air Day on Wednesday October 4, 2023. More will be announced as they get closer to those dates.

Rosemont, CA:  How is the testing going for the new low-floor light rail train sets? Are the new trains still forecasted to begin revenue service in Spring/Summer 20204, or have major delays or problems occurred that you can report on during the testing process itself?

Reply:  Thanks for asking. The new low-floor train testing is going well. We have 14 new trains delivered and three more arriving this month. All of these trains are undergoing the testing process and are on track to be ready for service once the station platform modifications are made and the new passing track is added for 15-minute service for Folsom area stations, which is expected to be ready by summer 2024. More information on the Light Rail Modernization Project is available at

Folsom, CA:  What date is forecasted along the Gold Line to implement Iron Point as the temporary end of the line, and begin both the bus bridge and track construction? As it relates to that question, would you anticipate that the operator’s June 2024 schedule assignment changes would be the best estimate of reopening service to Glenn and Historic Folsom with 15-minute frequency, or is this timeline too aggressive and too optimistic to know as the calendar just started September 2023 as of today?

Reply:  We are planning on construction of the passing track to begin in November, which will begin the bus bridge between Iron Point and Historic Folsom stations. Train service will then turn around at Iron Point Station. The progress on this project will be updated on our website at

Sacramento, CA:  As someone who isn't able to drive, I'm very grateful for the work you've put into SmartRT Ride. I also understand that circumstances necessitated the recent changes to the service. However, one of the stated reasons is to increase ridership yet the changes have resulted in a significant increase in wait times when the service starts in the morning in the Downtown-Midtown Sacramento zone especially because it has almost always been busy prior to 7AM to begin with, before the service hours were reduced. I hope this is something that can be addressed.

Reply:  Thank you for the nice feedback. Our primary goal with the Smart Ride changes was to reduce cost, because our funding for SmaRT Ride has been reduced. With the failure of Measure A at the polls last fall, there is no permanent funding source for SmaRT Ride. SacRT has been funding it as best as possible with a variety of limited-time sources, but we had to cut some of it back this fall. I hope you’ll understand we’re trying to stretch the dollars the best we can. We are watching what happens with the Downtown-Midtown zone and the other zones that were changed to see how it’s working.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  Good Afternoon Henry: I wanted to ask a question about Sunday/Holiday light rail schedules and compare that to the remaining days. I noticed that on Sundays/Holidays, light rail service ends two hours earlier than it does the other six days of the week. Is there any concerted effort being made or looked into internally to address this and make rail service at night fully consistent throughout all seven days of the week as far as addressing when rail service ends? I am hopeful with rail modernization and the 15-minute frequency to Folsom stations occurring in 2024 that the schedules in and of themselves are getting an overview and overhaul as well. Thank you.

Reply:  Yes! Our team has been reviewing ridership data and over the next couple months, we will be putting out our official plans for light rail service on the Gold Line, beginning next year, with 15-minute frequency to Folsom. As part of that effort, we will review start/end times on each day, as well as connecting routes. I can’t promise that we’ll make Sunday/Holidays the same as Saturdays, but we will take a look at it.

Sacramento , CA:  Is SacRT still experiencing operator shortage issues, or have these been resolved? I have noticed that bus trip cancellations are much less common than they used to be. What is the current bus trip cancellation rate? Thank you so much.

Reply:  SacRT is continually hiring for bus operators, we just started eight new bus operators today. We are even holding two hiring events this month to continue those efforts. Our bus cancellations rates for July was .05% and August .06% which is the lowest we have had all year.

Sacramento, CA:  I utilize light rail on weekends. Often when I arrive to a light rail station, I find that the train isn't running it's typical schedule--one or both of the stations I need to use are not in service, trains are running at a modified schedule, or a large section of the particular line isn't in operation. However, the Alert SacRT app. SacRT's website, and SacRT's social media do not provide notifications about the service modifications. Why doesn't SacRT utilize the tools they have to notify users that the trains are not operating according to schedule?

Reply:  If there is a planned service cancellation due to platform modifications for the new low-floor trains, that information is shared many ways including signs at stations, an app push, social media, email to riders and on our website. For unplanned service delays, we share information on the Alert SacRT App and on the Alerts page on the website. We don't have staffing to cover weekend social media updates.

Rosemont, CA:  The Starfire Station has been without a fare vending machine for a few weeks now. A neighbor of mine told me that vandalism of the machine has made this station inaccessible as far as buying cash fare on a walk up basis. Are any corrective actions being done to make the machine accessible again or to change the appearance so that machine vandalism is either less likely or not at all?

Reply:  Thank you for bringing to our attention. Our staff is looking into the matter and plans to make the necessary repairs.

Citrus heights, CA:  I heard from the smart ride drivers I had and the new service hours for smart ride has caused folks, such as myself, a major headache when it comes to trying to book a ride. Like earlier this week, I was late for a class because I couldn’t book right when the service started.

Reply:  Sorry you are having a challenge requesting a ride on SmaRT Ride. We are monitoring the service with our contractor to make sure everything is working properly. We do want to remind riders that SmaRT Ride is a shared service and we can't guarantee it is available. The SmaRT Ride app also now provides fixed-route transit options nearby, incase SmaRT Ride isn't available.

Sacramento , CA:  Will SacRT begin retiring older rolling stock as soon as the new S700 trains enter service? Or will Siemens-duewag and CAF trains remain in service until a greater number of S700 trains enter service? I am just curious of the planned retirement schedule for older trains as new s700s come into service.

Reply:  The new S700 low-floor trains will start in service in summer 2024, but we will still be operating our old train fleets until all station platforms have been modified to meet the requirements of the new low floor trains. Learn more about the project at

Sacramento, CA:  My name is Jovana Fajardo and I am the Sacramento ACCE Director, for ACCE the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. We are a grassroots, member-led, statewide community organization working with more than 15,000 members across California. ACCE is dedicated to raising the voices of everyday Californians, neighborhood by neighborhood, to fight for the policies and programs we need to improve our communities and create a brighter future. I'm reaching out as we launched our Sacramento ACCE Transit Committee earlier this year. and have found that the shortage of Drivers has greatly affected the dependability of transportation for Riders. After surveying over 500 riders our committee has built some insight and concerns with our local transit system. Do you have time in the upcoming weeks that we can get on a call or meet to talk with a couple of ACCE Leaders? Thanks in advance

Reply:  Jovana, please reach out to Gregg Fishman, our Senior Community Relations Officer. He can talk with you about setting up a meeting with the right people from SacRT. Gregg is reachable at 279-789-1807 or

Sacramento, CA:  How can Transit Riders meet with you to discuss their concerns?

Reply:  I am always happy to meet with riders. Please reach out to my office to get something scheduled.

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager/CEO will take place on Friday, October 6, 2023.