Transit Talk with the General Manager

January 07, 2011
Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Happy New Year! Transit Talk with the General Manager is back for another interesting year and will continue to be held on the first Friday of every month from noon to 1 p.m. We will be accepting questions beginning at 10 a.m. through the end of the chat, which will be live at noon.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Hello and thank you for logging on to the chat. I hope everyone had the chance to spend time with family and friends over the holidays and is having a good week getting back to business.

It's nice to be with you, and I'm looking forward to hearing what's on your mind as we enter the new year.

Before we get started, I wanted to quickly mention that RT is proud to once again participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. March and Celebration, which will be held on Monday, January 17.

The six-mile march will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Oak Park Community Center, travel past Sacramento City College at approximately 9:15 a.m. and then make its way to the Sacramento Convention Center. The North Area March will depart Grant Union High School at 8:30 a.m.

RT buses will trail each march emblazoned with exterior images of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., offering rides to people who become tired or just want to participate by riding.

I'll be marching from the Oak Park Community Center near the bus and I am looking forward to seeing the thousands of people who participate each year.

RT will also provide supplemental bus service from the Sacramento Convention Center back to Sacramento City College, the Oak Park Community Center and Grant Union High School for attendees who participated in the march.

For more information about the event, call 916-920-8655 or visit

Let's get started with today's chat.

Sacramento, CA:  Will it be possible in the future for the trains to hold more wheelchairs? People are being left behind on the ramps and Paratransit isn't always the solution.

Reply:  We have developed some preliminary designs that would creat more space for wheelchairs. However, alterations to the trains will involve removal of fixed seats, which will mean more people will be required to stand. We are still looking at options.

Sacramento, CA:  Will you be attending the State of Downtown breakfast next Tuesday?

Reply:  Yes. RT usually attends the State of Downtown breakfast. Attending these events helps me and the RT staff stay engaged and aware of activities within the city of Sacramento.

Sacramento, CA:  Is express service on the line to Folsom still a future possibility?

Reply:  RT staff from our engineering team is working on the design of the system changes needed for express service. After the system changes are made, we will test the system and then with a good deal of public notice begin our express service on the Gold Line, next fiscal year.

Sacramento, CA:  How often do transit officers patrol the trains? I'd say I'm checked once or twice out of every 10 times I'm on the light rail.

Reply:  The Transit Officers ride the system on a scheduled basis to provide good system coverage. I am glad to hear that you were inspected twice out of 10 rides. That represents a 20 percent inspection rate. Our goal is to do better than 14 percent. When we drop below 10 percent we see an increase in fare evasion.

Sacramento, CA:  Are there any plans to restore routes 13 and 14 weekend service? I understand it won't be anytime soon, but just a hopeful curiosity?

Reply:  Our goal is to conduct a comprehensive analysis of our system and to develop a plan to implement new and more efficient service for riders. This study will get underway in a matter of days. Before we move into our next budget year (July 2011), we plan to have the RT Board discuss and approve a restoration plan to be implemented as funding allows.

Sacramento, CA:  I had a suggestion about the route 34, it seems that every time I'm on that route that there are usually no more than 10-12 people from downtown to Sutter Memorial Hospital, So I was wondering in order to make sure it won't be cut is it possible to have the 34 be recommissioned as a neighborhood ride?

Reply:  We are just starting our Comprehensive Operational Analysis, which will allow us to fully evaluate your suggestion. This is exactly the type of creative thinking about our service that we will undertake.

Elk Grove, CA:  Please give us the updating planning for Meadowview Station to CRC Station (light rail) ? When is the construction date on that project ? Thank you.

Reply:  We are waiting on word from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on our recent submittal/request to move into final design. We hope to have word within the next 60 days. Assuming all goes well we will execute a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) by the end of the year. Based on this schedule we hope to begin some construction activities by mid-summer with completion by the end of 2013 or early 2014.

Sacramento, CA:  Has there been any thought to letting every other run on Route 30 be extended to River Park on Saturdays I.E. the 12:08 PM trip leaving Amtrak and then next one 12:38 terminates at CSUS and the 1:08 extends to River Park

Reply:  We are just starting our Comprehensive Operational Analysis, which will allow us to fully evaluate your suggestion. This is exactly the type of creative thinking about our service that we will undertake.

Sacramento, CA:  Hello Mike, I was wondering if you have a small dog that has a harness and leash on, is well behaved and is being held by his owner can it ride on light Rail?

Reply:  RT is required to allow service animals on board such as guide dogs for the visually impaired, however, all other animals must be in carry-on cages.

Sacramento, CA:  Any updates on two issues: 1) Park and Ride additions? 2) Possible service enhancements/extensions in 2011 or 2012?

Reply:  I am assuming you are asking, whether we will be expanding the Park-Pay-and-Ride Program where we charge for parking at the RT park-and-ride lots. At this point, the RT Board has authorized additional lots beyond the six currently in the program. They have also directed staff to meet with the cities of Rancho Cordova and Folsom and with the County of Sacramento about expansion of the Park-Pay-and-Ride Program within their jurisdictions. Those meeting have occurred and staff is planning to brief the RT Board on the recommendations. After the Board is briefed, we may receive additional direction from the RT Board. We are not planning another expansion until this summer. In addition to the work I mentioned above, RT staff is providing reporting on the current program on a quarterly basis. These reports are used to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. We are just starting our Comprehensive Operational Analysis, which will allow us to fully evaluate service restoration/expansion. We will implement service improvements as our resources allow.

Sacramento, CA:  Will the 36 ever run down on Folsom Blvd again?

Reply:  We are just starting our Comprehensive Operational Analysis, which will allow us to fully evaluate your suggestion. This is exactly the type of creative thinking about our service that we will undertake.

South Sacramento, CA:  For the COA, are you going to do an analysis for the Gerber, Power Inn area, especially with the possibility of reinstating Route 4?

Reply:  The COA will consider RT's entire service area, current and previous routes and service times. It will also consider areas that have never had service, such as areas of North Natomas and Rancho Cordova.

Sacramento, CA:  We have no car, Seniors in our late 80's, live in a senior facility at 5th and O Streets, utilize the "Lifetime Free Pass", many times in a week, both Light Rail and Buses. Many times bus 51 is totally overloaded. We often go to Broadway by the Post Office. We wait for the bus and here it comes. Big sign - "FULL - wait for next bus. Next bus, same thing and the next bus. If you are lucky enough, the third bus MIGHT have room for a walker. January 3rd, we finally ended up walking to the Light Rail to get back home. We did not want to wait to see if there was another one following. The third bus is not too often, but it does happen. Is there something RT plans to do about this situation?

Reply:  We have a number of services that experience over crowding at different times of the day. The solution to this problem is adding more trips to the route so that the service operates more frequently. As with other responses today, we will fully consider this as part of our Comprehensive Operational Analysis. In the meantime, if you have flexibility in your schedule you may want to consider riding during a different time of the day, such as mid-morning, when the bus may be less crowded. Thank you for your dedicated ridership.

Sacramento, CA:  Yes, I purchase a disabled pass and ride the express 7 bus. There are times that the bus is full when I get on. I present the pass to the bus driver and get on bus. No sit is available to me even though I show the disabled pass to the bus drive. My question is, "is it my responsilblity to ask a rider to move to let me sit in the diabled area or is it the bus drivers. And those sitting in the disabled area are not disabled. I feel uncomfortable confronting a rider.

Reply:  While certain seats are designated for disabled passengers, RT doesn't check passengers' qualifications to sit in those seats. Oftentimes, a person's disability is not obvious to another person and not everyone's disability precludes them from sitting elsewhere or standing. If you don't feel comfortable asking someone to allow you to sit in a designated seat, you can ask the operator to help you. But please remember that RT cannot force other passengers to give up their seat.

Sacramento, CA:  Do you have any new funding sources? such as Advertisements? Hotel Taxes? etc

Reply:  RT is always looking for new funding sources and welcome your thoughts. Unfortunately, we are out of ideas that do not require voter or other jurisdictional approval, such as a dedicated source of fee or tax. RT already utilizes all the traditional revenue sources such as advertisements, lease, or interest revenue, and more. Recent additions are revenues in the form of fees and fines from charging for parking at many park-and-ride lots. We also received good news from the federal government in the form of a rebate on federal natural gas tax. This will amount to approximately $1.9 million per year.

Sacramento, CA:  Has RT done a recent planning for the cars that may or may not be allowed on K Street? Do you know where progress currently stands on this proposal?

Reply:  Cars on K Street is a City of Sacramento project and they have hired a consultant to develop plans for K Street that would accommodate some level of traffic. Late in December, the consultant released preliminary plans (at the 65 percent design level) of the improvements that would need to be made. RT Engineering and Operations staff are reviewing and commenting on the plans so that whatever is ultimately implemented will work with our light rail system on K Street. RT staff has taken the position with the City that we are not opposed to traffic on K Street, so long as it does not interfere with light rail service or result in a safety hazard for RT's patrons. The recently released plans are the first information that is specific enough for RT to provide meaningful feedback to the City on what they are proposing. It is my recollection that the City schedule looks at implementing cars on K Street by late fall of this year if everything progresses smoothly.

Sacramento, CA:  Can you explain how a light rail train can catch on fire like the one did a few weeks ago during the holidays?

Reply:  The trains have a number of systems that can overheat. The braking system by its nature is one of the primary areas where we often see excess heat generated. Because of design controls, these areas almost never become a problem. However, as we saw during the holidays, it can happen. The details of cause and effect in the case you noted are being analyzed at this time and I don't have all of the details in hand at this time. Fortunately, for an event like this we are able to capture a great level of data. We are currently evaluating all of the information. When we have all of the details, a corrective action plan will be implemented to correct the problems we discover.

Sacramento, CA:  has there been any work done on the San Jose LRV's that have been sitting (or rotting) in the yard

Reply:  These vehicles are being prepared for service as we speak. Four of the vehicles are currently able to run on the system, but still have additional work remaining. We are currently out to bid for additional rehabilitation work on these vehicles. The vehicles are needed for the start of limited-stop service to Folsom and for the extension of service on the Blue Line to Cosumnes River College.

Sacramento, CA:  When will the Green Line be open? I thought it was scheduled for the beginning of 2011.

Reply:  The Green Line to the River District is under construction and is expected to begin revenue operation mid-summer, 2011. There have been unforeseen delays in the project that were unavoidable.

sacramento, CA:  what are the new improved lost and found bicycle procedures that were mentioned when I recovered my bike?

Reply:  We have tried to make it easier for the customers to recover their lost bicycles by making it easier for the first employee you contact to verify that we have the bicycle in hand. Our staff in Facilities can quickly verify that the bicycle is in fact on site and manage reconnecting the owner with the bicycle. This reduces the number of RT staff that the owner of a lost bicycle needs to work through.

sacramento, CA:  Hi Mike, I would first like to say thank you to all the staff that were helpful in recovering my bicycle recently left on a bus bike rack. I'm very happy to get it back this time. Secondly unfortunately later that day on my way home the bus driver did not prohibit a "gentleman" from boarding the bus and uncaping a large bottle of beer and be abnoxious to the point that another gentleman next to him stood up and shared some words with him. The bus driver did not do a thing. Is the bus driver responsible to control these matters before they get out of hand or what. There were many school kids on the bus who witnessed this and I was further back on the bus, but it was bugging me too. It happened on the 81 bus heading west at about 3:45 or so. The drunkard ended up getting out of the bus after causing a scene but he also followed the bus on his bike right after...he forgot his belongings ...but it again cause a stir in the bus.

Reply:  I'm glad you got your bicycle back and thank you for bringing this incident to our attention. Some incidents of this type are able to be resolved by our operators. Others may best be handled by a Transportation Supervisor allowing the operator to maintain his schedule and minimize the disruption to our passengers. Still others may require one of our police officers to respond. The decision is made by Bus Radio Control personnel after the matter is reported by the operator. I am forwarding this incident to our Customer Advocacy Department (CAD) to investigate They will respond back to you with the results. In the event you experience a problem on any future trips, feel free to contact CAD directly at 557-4545.

Natomas, CA:  What are the most heavily used Bus routes in the RT System?

Reply:  Route 51 - Stockton Blvd. carries about 4,100 people every day. Routes 81 - Florin Road/65th Street and Route 1 - Greenback are also very busy routes for RT, carrying about 3,300 and 2,900 people per day respectively. Altogether RT buses carry about 50,000 people per day and light rail trains carry about 45,000.

Rocklin, CA:  I continue to hope that someday we will have a light rail extension to Roseville. As part of the Blue Print and unmet transit needs study hosted in Rocklin this year, this was again the most universally requested service/expansion. What will it take for this expansion to occur?

Reply:  The cities of Roseville and Rocklin, and Placer County will need to work with RT to make this a priority. Those communities will also need to identify additional funding to support the capital and operating cost of such a service. At this point, RT has included service to Placer County in our long range plan, TransitAction. However, other service improvements are higher priorities.

Sacramento, CA:  Will there be any future improvements planned to beef up security in Parking Lots, such as the Roseville Road parking lot where so may auto problems occur?

Reply:  RT is continuously looking for better ways to improve our transit system to include security. Currently, we have a combination of walking and bicycle patrol by our contract security officers. That is supplemented by mobile security officers as well as bus and rail supervisors and police officers assigned to RT. Additionally, train and bus operators report any problems they observe while on their routes. As the RT budget outlook improves, we will begin to restore positions lost during our downsizing phase.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Thank you for your participation. We'll be back next month on Friday, February 4, from noon to 1 p.m.