Transit Talk with the General Manager

May 03, 2024
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Welcome to the May 2024 Transit Talk with me, Henry Li, SacRT General Manager/CEO. This month we are working on completing construction to the Gold Line station platforms for the first phase of the Light Rail Modernization Project in preparation to roll out our fleet of new low-floor light rail trains this summer. As a result, we will have temporary service disruptions due to construction at the 13th Street Station and Archives Plaza Station this month. Please visit for all the details.

Mark your calendars, as we are hosting two special community events where you can be among the first to tour our brand-new S700 low-floor light rail vehicles. The events will be held on Saturday, June 1 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the 13th Street Station and on Wednesday, June 12 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the 7th & Richards/Township 9 Station. The community events are open to everyone, so bring your family and friends for an unforgettable sneak peek at SacRT’s cutting-edge light rail technology.

Also this month, we will be holding a public hearing on SacRT’s Fiscal Year 2025 Preliminary Operating and Capital Budget. The hearing will be held on Monday, May 13 at 4 p.m. in the SacRT Auditorium located at 1400 29th Street. Members of the public can attend the meeting in person to provide public comment or submit written comments by 1 p.m. on the day of the Board meeting to Jason Johnson, VP, Finance/CFO, at, or mail to P.O. Box 2110, Sacramento, CA 95812- 2110. For more information, visit

SacRT is hiring! We are hosting two in-person hiring events in the SacRT Auditorium located at 1400 29th Street on Tuesday, May 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Tuesday, May 21 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Learn more at

Ride SacRT for free in May, as we have partnered with many local organizations to offer free rides on transit to those events with a free ride flyer. Visit to print or screenshot the flyer to ride free to an event.

Finally, May is Bike Month and bikes and transit make the perfect duo. Did you know that all SacRT buses are equipped with bike racks on the front that can hold up to three bikes. Bikes are allowed inside light rail trains as well. SacRT requires passengers with bikes to leave space available at the front of the first train car for riders with disabilities. Learn more about how to bike-and-ride on transit at

Now let’s get to your questions!

Rancho Cordova, CA:  Greetings Henry: I am a state worker who has casually gone into the office once a month. Last month we received a directive from the Governor’s office that starting on Monday 17 June 2024, we will have to go into the office twice a week at a bare minimum. With that in mind, would Regional Transit consider operating 3-car train sets as a “new normal” on weekdays starting on June 17th so that light rail would have the capacity to more regularly carry state, federal, city, and county workers to downtown offices along with the new Richards Boulevard Office Complex? Thank you.

Reply:  We are currently operating three car trains, when we have cars available during peak commute hours. The Green Line will add a car when passenger levels dictate the need.

Folsom, CA:  How is the construction progress going with regards to the passing track project? I was looking for a date of light rail service changes as it relates to project completion, but your website only mentioned that service changes to various bus routes becomes effective on August 25th. There was no mention of a “date specific” date that light rail service changes take effect. Would you please be able to elaborate on this a bit here? This will help folks like myself better prepare as to when both bus and rail service changes become effective and when to start immediately adapting to a new schedule rather than staying the course with the existing schedule that is knowingly going to be outdated soon. Thank you.

Reply:  Thanks for asking. At this time, we don't have an official opening date for the Folsom 15-minute frequency project. But it will open in late summer. We should have a better idea in July on the official opening date.

Sacramento, CA:  I heard on the news that the City of Sacramento will not be extending their payments to SacRT for the Ryde Free program due to budget issues. What is going to happen to my children?

Reply:  SacRT is continuing the RydeFreeRT (fare-free transit for youth) program while actively seeking sustainable funding for long-term continuation. The new year cards, which are valid between June 1, 2024 and June 30, 2025 will be distributed to schools later this month. The current RydeFreeRT card is still valid until June 30, 2024.

Folsom, CA:  I live in Folsom and see you are showing off the new trains downtown. Since these new cars are basically ours, have you planned an event at one of our stations? Iron Point would be a good location.

Reply:  We picked the downtown locations, because those were the only stations we had avaialble during construction to put the trains during service hours. We are planning an event in Historic Folsom once we begin service, we don't have a date yet, but looking at late summer.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  I heard that once the Gold Line starts running all trains Siemens S700 this summer that the CAF & U2A train cars will become exclusive to the Blue Line. Does this mean the Blue Line will be able to once again run 4 car trains at peak hours of U2A & CAF trains since that sounds like the whole CAF & U2A fleet dedicated to the Blue Line?

Reply:  Currently, our Light Rail plan is to operate three cars during peak times on the Blue Line and as ridership increases to pre-pandemic levels, we may revisit four car trains.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  I was wondering about the situation at the Stockton Blvd grade crossing eith illegally right turning trucks. I have seen more still taking the right turn nearly striking the cantilever and recently this week, I seen minor damage at the bottom. Is there any planned project to add protection to the cantilever at the 34th & Stockton Blvd corner as if the cantilever gets taken out again, trains will have to use the horn and stop at yhe crossing and thats money wasted on cantilevers that could be used for future projects instead.

Reply:  Design efforts between the City of Sacramento and SacRT are currently in progress to install a robust protective bollard at the corner to provide equipment protection.

Antelope, CA:  Hey Henry. I’m a long time rider of the light rail. How come they have to stop at traffic lights downtown? Don’t they not have to stop while the cars do?

Reply:  The train follows all vehicle traffic rules while traveling though mixed traffic in the downtown area. There are devices that detect a train and that detection notifies the vehicle signaling system to “pre emp” the signal light to change for the train. Due to traffic in the downtown area, the train may still loose that “traffic preemption” signal causing it to also wait in traffic.

Sacramento, CA:  A fellow rider had shown me that you were on a trip, fairly recently to Portland and a tour of the TriMet system. How did that trip go? What takeaways did you get from the Portland trip that can be brought back and considered for the greater Sacramento Region?

Reply:  Our team attended the American Public Transportation Association’s annual Mobility Conference earlier this week, in Portland. This is one of the largest transit conferences in the nation, and a great opportunity to learn from our peers. A major focus of the conference was bus rapid transit (BRT). We got to ride FX2, which is Portland TriMet’s first BRT, which they opened just recently. They are modeling their BRT program after Metro Transit, in Minneapolis/St. Paul which has now successfully implemented several BRTs. Our staff also get to ride the “Vine” BRT in Vancouver, WA and meet with the project manager for both of Vancouver’s BRTs. There were also dozens of great sessions and hundreds of other professionals we got to visit with and learn from. TriMet did a very impressive job hosting the conference.

Sacramento , CA:  Hello Mr. Li, will ryde for free get renewed for 2024-5?

Reply:  SacRT is continuing the program while actively seeking sustainable funding for long-term continuation. The new RydeFreeRT cards will be availalbe later this month.

Sacramento , CA:  Regarding your future network plans, will ell grove and Folsom get a complete redo from scratch like Sacramento did in 2019?

Reply:  With our upcoming Comprehensive Operational Analysis, we will look at all routes, but we’re not expecting a complete redesign of the whole system. A lot has changed since SacRT Forward in 2019, including annexing Elk Grove and Folsom systems, bringing our SacRT GO paratransit services in-house, and of course the pandemic’s effect on commuting and travel patterns in general, so those are a few areas we will focus on.

Sacramento, CA:  I was wondering when a full fix of the X St grade crossing that was damged in the nearby housing fire would happen? Since the crossing isn't 100% fixed, freight trains have to stop before passing through the crossing and people keep complaining about the extended wait from traffic backups from stopping trains at the damaged crossing.

Reply:  We are currently waiting on approval for a permit from the City to close the street to complete the repairs. We hope to begin the repairs next week.

South Sacramento , CA:  What about the numbers on ridership for both light rail and bus? Are they are back to level prior to the pandemic? And when the governors order for state workers return to the office arrives next month, are you expecting ridership numbers to improve or level off?

Reply:  Bus ridership is near pre-pandemic levels at over at over 90% recovered. Light Rail ridership is about 2/3 recovered at this point. SacRT is hopeful that State employees will choose SacRT when they return to the office and will report back any measurable ridership gains as a result of new measures implemented by the State.

Rosemomt, CA:  So, what is going on with the “bus rapid transit” lane on watt avenue not being used anymore?

Reply:  The bus lane on Watt Ave was funded and constructed because there was a one-time opportunity to do so, related to the Watt Ave interchange project. If SacRT was running 6 to 8 buses per hour on that corridor, we would probably have some of them use the bus lane, as an express option to light rail. But since we currently have funds for just two buses per hour, we are running them on La Riviera. Basic coverage has to be the priority. Express trips are a luxury we cannot afford with current local funding levels.

Sacramento , CA:  Apparently the city of Sacramento has plans to potentially cut the police budget massively, how do you plan on maintaining current safety levels in general, if not increasing them in the coming years?

Reply:  SacRT is proud of our award winning security and safety programs. We have worked with the city in recent years to offset reductions in officers due to their budget and staffing shortage. SacRT has a robust security program, employing more than 15 sworn officers, 35 transit ambassadors, 12 Security and video specialist at the Security operations center (SOC) and over 50 private security guards.

Arcade, CA:  So, what will become of the 300 series of light rail vehicles that were pulled from service in 2021?

Reply:  The District has chosen to retire the UTDC light rail vehicles (formerly VTA light rail cars). We are laser focused on modernizing our light rail system, which includes new low floor light rail vehicles. To date, the district has purchased 45 new low floor vehicles. We have not finalized any plan for retired rail cars.

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for joining us. The new online chat will be Friday, June 7, 2024.