Transit Talk with the General Manager

June 07, 2024
Henry Li, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Welcome to the June 2024 Transit Talk with me, Henry Li, SacRT General Manager/CEO. This month we expect to complete 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 have temporary service disruptions due to construction at the Archives Plaza Station that will continue this month. Please visit for all the details. 

We also want to remind riders to be aware when in Gold Line stations, as the platforms have been raised eight inches to meet the height requirement of the new low-floor light rail trains. Riders are urged to cross the stations at the ends of each platform and not in the middle of the station.

I’m also pleased to share that we recently held our first community event to showcase our brand-new S700 low-floor light rail vehicles. It was a great turnout with an estimated 275 attendees touring the new train. If you missed it, don’t worry, a second event will be held on Wednesday, June 12 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the 7th & Richards/Township 9 Station. Learn more at 

The Light Rail Modernization Project is one of several proposed projects that will require resources to continue into the next fiscal year to improve the customer experience. On that note, SacRT opened a public hearing on SacRT's Fiscal Year 2025 Preliminary Operating and Capital Budget in May, and that will continue through the Monday, June 10, 2024 Board meeting at 4 p.m. at 1400 29th Street in the SacRT Auditorium, when the final Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 Operating and Capital Budget will be presented for adoption. 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 


With summer just a few weeks away, new RydeFreeRT cards are available for Youth in grades TK through 12th. SacRT’s RydeFreeRT, the fare-free transit program for students/youth, is moving into its fourth year with nearly 4.2 million student rides over the last year. New RydeFreeRT cards with a valid date of June 1, 2024 through June 30, 2025, are now available for students/youth to ride the entire SacRT transit network, including SacRT buses and light rail for FREE! For more information, visit  

Speaking of summer, it’s one of the best times of the year to get fresh locally grown produce and SacRT light rail stations are now hosting three weekly Farmers’ Markets, so they are even more accessible by transit. They are held at Florin Station on Thursdays between 8 a.m. and noon, at Sunrise Station on Saturdays between 8 a.m. and noon and at Meadowview Station on Sundays between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. This Sunday, June 9th come out and join me, City of Sacramento Councilmember Mai Vang, SacRT Board Chair Patrick Kennedy, Assemblymember Nguyen and many others at the Meadowview Station to celebrate the new location of the Meadowview Farmers’ Market. The Meadowview Market will offer a variety of vendors, including certified agricultural producers, hot food vendors, and packaged food products from local makers. The market will operate all year round, every Sunday, rain or shine, and accepts CalFresh/EBT and offers Market Match nutrition incentives, matching up to $10 of EBT benefits each week. SacRT will even give you a free ride using the free ride flyer, which is available to download at

Now let’s get to your questions!

CA:  Can the RT website be reviewed? I found a lot of passenger-focused information but less general information (About SacRT), and the organization on the website is not always intuitive. On there is text reading "New bullets for this section." Agency history doesn't seem to include past General Managers (Tom Matoff, Pilka, Bev Scott) or other significant people (Cam Beach). Finally, the organization chart seems to have too many direct reports. Is everyone there a VP? Would you consider a flatter org structure (like Counsel, Board Secretary, Chief of Staff, Deputy GM, Operations, Maintenance, Planning and Engineering, and Finance and Administration)?

Reply:  Thank you for your questions. We are in the process of revamping our website to make it more customer friendly and expect to launch it this fall. In preparation we just migrated the current site to the cloud and as a result have some pages that are displaying random text such as the bullet points you mentioned. We will address that ASAP. In regard to the number of direct reports, back in 2016 SacRT realized millions of dollars in budget savings by implementing business process optimization policies and innovative cost-cutting initiatives including right-sizing the organizational structure, which reduced the number of upper management positions. It's important to put this in perspective related to the number of employees we have at SacRT. To date, SacRT has approximately 1,500 budgeted positions.

Natomas, CA:  With the recent opening of the Elkhorn Boulevard extension taking place just within the last thirty days, does this open the door for Regional Transit to consider extending Route 11 at its existing 45-minute frequency to the Sacramento International Airport? I have my fingers crossed that this route extension and expansion of service hours can be done sooner rather than later, taking the Elkhorn Boulevard extension project completion into major consideration. Thank you.

Reply:  Thank you for the question. At this moment, SacRT is not in a position to extend route 11 to service the airport. We continue to operate operate Route 142 Airport Express that services the airport and downtown Sacramento. We are also coordinating with San Joaquin Regional Rail on an airport shuttle connecting to their Elkhorn station, utilizing the new road extension.

Folsom, CA:  How is the construction going on the passing track in Folsom, and are you able to provide today a better estimate of a completion date? A neighbor of mine asked me about this the other day, and I told them the first half of September is my best guess, but I felt, knowing about this particular monthly chat, that this is the best forum to get better clarification on such a complex project as this. Would you here be able to prove me wrong as far as the answer I gave my neighbor, or is the first half of September about right, at least for a best guess scenario?

Reply:  Thank you for your inquiry. There have been a couple of minor delays with the Folsom-15 construction that we know will extend the opening date beyond the original estimated date of August 2024. We are still working to get a better completion date and will share it once we have more information. SacRT is looking forward to providing 15-minute service to Folsom area stations.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  With regards to the new low-floor light rail trains, I have two questions for you. 1) If all the phase one of the station modifications are completed, can you operate both gold and green line service sooner than originally expected, even if that means for the time being that gold line service must still continue to turn around at Iron Point and not Historic Downtown Folsom. 2) Has staff set a date as to the first day of service using low-floor light rail vehicles, and how will that be communicated in advance so that members of the public can plan accordingly, like which portion of the platform to stand on, especially if it is different than normal and is therefore something new to them and getting accustomed to from day one?

Reply:  The Gold Line construction is mostly completed, but we do not yet have enough of the new low floor vehicles to start service early. We do not want to intermix the new and the old cars, so we are waiting until we have enough of the new cars that are fully tested and released into service to be able to run all-new consists on the Gold Line. We anticipate that in Early September. We also anticipate a robust public outreach and communication campaign that will inform the public of the change and exactly when it will take place.

Carmichael, CA:  I have been hearing in the news lately about a so-called fiscal cliff that transit agencies throughout California transit agencies will have to face in approximately a couple of years, and that conversations around my Sacramento office are a bit concerning right now of imminent service cuts on routes are coming, along with layoffs of operations staff. Would you be able to clarify as to what’s going on and if you can share anything from Regional Transit’s perspective that is not so doom and gloom and calm any fears that people like me and my coworkers have been talking about at our Downtown Office Building? Thank you so very much and for the service that Regional Transit continues to provide in a fiscally challenging environment. It is much appreciated.

Reply:  SacRT is in somewhat better financial shape than many other California Transit agencies-however, we are also monitoring the state and federal budgets closely. The current state budget includes funding earmarked for transit agencies that should allow us to continue with current service levels for at least a couple more years, as long as those funds, known as "SB 125 funding" are released to us, as called for in the current state budget. However, we are also looking at the loss of some state and federal funding in the long term, and we will need to replace that with local funding at some point if we want to maintain or expand our current service levels beyond approximately 2027.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Assuming that there will be no Transit Talk in July due to the 4-Day holiday weekend, is there anything you can share that is exciting and happening over the next sixty days or so, again, assuming that the transit talk monthly forum after today, is not making a return until approximately August 2nd? Thank you.

Reply:  We are continuing to do the "Burn In" testing of our new light rail vehicles, and we anticipate being able to start running them in revenue service on the Gold Line in early September. We are also awaiting news from various state and federal agencies about several grants we have applied for, and those announcements may be made in the July time-frame. While there will be no GM Chat in July, if we are successful with our grant applications we will announce those via press release.

Sacramento, CA:  Are there any planned weekend bus bridges occurring after Father’s Day weekend and into the full swing of the Summer months, or will planned weekend bus bridges likely not resume until the Fall 2024 timeframe once Regional Transit gets past Father’s Day Weekend?

Reply:  Thank you for the question. No additional construction related bus bridges are planned on the Gold Line after June until we start on Phase 2 construction related to the Blue Line, which is estimated to take place starting in September 2024.See more here:

Sacramento, CA:  I am visually impaired. I noticed on some bus stop polls. There are metallic signs with Braille on them indicating the stop number and directions of the route. Is there anyway that those signs can be posted on all of the bus stops? That way blind people can know if it’s a bus stop versus a light pole.

Reply:  We are always working to improve accessibility for people with visual or other impairments that impact their ability to use our system. The Braille signs were part of a pilot program and unfortunately we found that many of them were stolen. However, the issue of more braille signage has come up before in our Mobility Advisor Council and I think that might be the best place to consider your question, in the context of other improvements also under consideration. I will forward this to Priscilla Vargas, ADA Compliance Officer. And I also invite you to participate in out monthly Mobility Advisory Council meetings. You can find more information on our website at this link: I assume from your ability to participate in this chat that you can access the website, but if you have any problems, please feel free to contact Priscilla at 916-321-BUSS (2877)

Citrus Heights, CA:  We're just getting over an excessive heat warning that lasted 3 days. During this and similar occasions, SacRT has informed riders that will operate equipment and speeds at reduced levels due to "light rail's aging fleet." More positively, we'll also get new S700 cars operating soon. What plans do you have or foresee with the new cars in response to our inevitable heatwaves? It'd be great if SacRT doesn't have to run only single car trains when temperatures are 100+. Please share insights with how SacRT and the S700's will handle hot days. Thanks!

Reply:  Great question. The new S700 light rail trains will significantly improve the customer experience, especially related interior temperature control during inclement weather. Although the trains are new, the overhead catenary system (OCS) that provides the electricity to all the trains is still impacted by severe heat. Once the temperatures reach 102 degrees, the OCS has reached its designed limits and we need to operate at a slower speed so the wires don't sag.

Folsom, CA:  How's the Folsom project going? What's the estimated completion date?

Reply:  Thank you for your inquiry. There have been a couple of minor delays with the Folsom-15 construction that we know will extend the opening date beyond the original estimated date of August 2024. We are still working to get a better completion date and will share it once we have more information. SacRT is looking forward to providing 15-minute service to Folsom area stations.

Antelope, CA:  When will your new low floor trains be finally ready for service?

Reply:  We are still in the testing phase. Each new car is required to run 1,000 hours before we can put them into service, so it takes a while. We hope to have them running on the Gold Line by early September.

North Highlands, CA:  When will the green line be served by the new s700’s since I’ve noticed it will be at least September when they will serve the gold line?

Reply:  We anticipate beginning service with the new S700 vehicles on both the Green and the Gold lines in early September.

South Sacramento , CA:  Besides the changes coming regarding bus and light rail coming in August 2024, are there any purposed changes coming for 2025?

Reply:  SacRT's last systemwide analysis took place in 2019. Since then, travel patterns have changed due to COVID, technology improvements have been made in service delivery models, and SacRt annexed service in Elk Grove and Folsom. To address these issues, and the reduction in revenues, we will be embarking on a new Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA), beginning in Fall 2024. This COA will propose service efficiencies and possibly new routes and frequencies. We will be asking the public for their input along this process. This should include in-person workshops, surveys, and pop-up events. We look forward to taking a fresh look at our system and working with our riders to provide the best service experience possible.

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for joining us. There will not be a GM Chat in July, due to the 4th of July holiday and the next GM Chat will be Friday, August 2.