Transit Talk with the General Manager

April 01, 2011
Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Transit Talk with the General Manager will begin at noon. We are accepting questions now through the end of the chat at 1 p.m. Thank you for your interest.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

This morning I was proud to be a part of the Sacramento Metro Chamber's 3rd Annual State of RT Breakfast and TransitAction Awards held at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento.

The annual awards program recognizes models of excellence that made a significant and positive impact to public transit in the Sacramento region while the breakfast event provides a forum to discuss the Sacramento region's transit priorities.

This year's TransitAction Award recipients are:
  • Business of the Year - Siemens
  • Organization/Agency of the Year - California Transit Association
  • Transit Oriented Development of the Year - Alexan Midtown
  • Elected Official of the Year - Assemblymember Roger Dickinson
  • Individual/Transit Advocate of the Year - Victor Muro, RT Bus Operator
These people and organizations make a difference to the everyday lives of thousands of residents in our community each day with their diligent work on behalf of public transit. Congratulations and thank you to all our TransitAction winners.

A special thank you also is in order for all the event sponsors and attendees of this morning's successful breakfast and awards ceremony. We hope everyone will continue their involvement next year in our 4th annual event.

Feel free to ask about the breakfast here in the chat or any other transit topics you're concerned with today.

Sacramento, CA:  I know that a lot of the buses and light rail have to stop earlier in the evening, but is there any hope for an extension of some of the buses or light rail later into the night? Especially the ones that operate downtown?

Reply:  Yes, in fact we are currently embarking on a Comprehensive Operational Analysis that is looking at this very issue. Upon completing the analysis this fall, it should help us roll out a cost effective service over the next few years.

sacramento, CA:  Will there be an upgrade to the RT fleet this year if so is RT continuing with Orion or an other company?

Reply:  No new large buses are being ordered this year. We are buying some new paratransit buses and neighborhood ride buses. All of our bus purchases are competitively bid. So, we cannot predetermine who will be the successful bidder.

South Sacramento, CA:  I've understand that the COA Analysis process is taking place. Do you have any early clues from what the group is indicating in regards to service changes or enhancements? If not, do you know when we will hear any recommendations for those changes?

Reply:  Earlier this week we actually spent two entire days with our Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA) consultants touring the RT system, examining bus and rail operations first-hand. Their team has also been busy preparing demographic and market analyses. The next steps will be to organize several stakeholder committees. Preliminary recommendations are still several months away as we do not want to cut any corners or overlook any crucial participants in this project.

Sacramento, CA:  Now that gas is $4/gallon, when do you plan on returning to a schedule that would meet the needs of the community? In the last few years, you have increased fares, eliminated transfers, eliminated the free passes for over 70 and disabled, plus reduced many routes like the 38 to once an hour. So you make life hell for seniors, disabled, poor, and people trying to help save the environment.

Reply:  It was never our intent to make life "hell' for our customers. Unfortunately, the poor economy has resulted in a loss of $30 million in revenue from last year to this year. We were able to reduce cost by $20 million before we trimmed service. The service reductions resulted in the final savings of $10 million required to balance our budget. We are currently working on developing a Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA) to establish priorities for service renewal. We will complete the COA this fall.

Sacramento, CA:  Are you planning to plan to add more Park Pay-and-Ride to any more light rail stations? If so, when and which ones will be added?

Reply:  The RT Board has authorized changing all of the park-and-ride lots within the city of Sacramento to pay lots. Staff is working on analysis of the six current lots. When that analysis is provided to the RT Board, we expect further direction. We expect to present our findings to the RT Board of Directors within the next few months. Any further expansion would be subsequent to their decision.

Sacramento, CA:  I just want to inquire as to when the completion of the extension from the Sacramento Sheriff's Dept. area will be completed. I was homeless years ago in the area. I have had a home for a few years now and just noticed the change.

Reply:  The Green Line construction is proceeding well. The last element of construction is the completion of the new station at the end of the line at 7th street and Richards Blvd. This station is being built by Township 9 instead of Regional Transit. We are hoping to begin service in the September - October time frame.

South Sacramento, CA:  You've indicated to us in the past couple of months that there will be a regional card coming soon, similar to what the Bay Area is doing with the new Clipper Cards. When are we going to get the news of those pricing cards and when are we going to use those cards? And which other transit agencies will be participating in the regional cards?

Reply:  The contract for the purchase and installation of the "Smart Card" is expected to be awarded by the end of May. We plan to begin a test implementation early next year (in January or February). After the test implementation, all of RT's vehicles will be outfitted with the new equipment and implementation will start in the next summer of 2012. Elk Grove, Roseville, Yolo, Folsom, Yuba Sutter, El Dorado, and Placer County have been invited to join.

Sacramento, CA:  Why are only selected stops listed for each line on the folders and your web cite? I'm sure new riders would find it helpful to know each stop the bus or light rail line makes.

Reply:  Only time points are shown in the timetable book, pocket schedules and online. Not every stop is a time point. If you go online to RT's Trip Planner and click on the "schedules" tab and select a route, a full list of all the bus stops associated with that route will be displayed (time points will be listed in bold). There is not enough space in the printed schedule to list all of the bus stops. In addition, the arrival times at bus stop, with the exception of time points, are approximate times.

Sacramento, CA:  Why aren't buses and light rail lines set up in a staggered time system instead of the 15 minute one? If they were staggered a person who missed one may be able to connect with another line that is leaving five or ten minutes after the missed one (this would make sense to you if you had to stand in 110 degree heat (minus a shelter) waiting for a bus or light rail.

Reply:  On some routes, such as Routes 80 and 84 (Watt Avenue) and Routes 67 and 68 (Arden Fair to Florin Mall) we do indeed stagger the buses so that some passengers can take either bus and effectively have twice the frequency to his or her destination. In other cases, such as University/65th Street, we usually try to have the buses all meet at a common time, so that transfers between lines can take place. It depends not only on the rate of transfers between lines, but also other factors. For example, buses that serve light rail stations usually need to be scheduled around the timing of the trains, not only for transferring but also to avoid the bus being delayed by a crossing train.

Sacramento, CA:  What is the weight limit for a full size RT bus? What is the assumed weight of a standard passenger?

Reply:  The buses can easily carry over 8,000 pounds of passengers. This would allow 53 people to weigh an average of 150 pounds each.

Sacramento, CA:  are there any details of the COA you could inform us of right now, just to give an insight as to how bright the light at the end of the tunnel maybe? and as a rider for more than 21 years I just want to say thank you for at least trying to to do something to help for the future rather than tuck your tail between your legs and move to another city/agency

Reply:  The amount of service we restore will depend on the Fiscal Year 2012 Operating Budget, which is currently in development. The COA will establish priorities for what we do with the available funds. Thank you for your compliment.

Sacramento, CA:  Any plans to paint the light rail cars in a unified paint scheme within the next few years? The Siemens cars are looking a little dated.

Reply:  We have very limited resources at this time. Consequently, we are focusing on required maintenance activities. This does not include repainting dated looking vehicles. However, we are exploring the possibility of wrapping the vehicles in art created by local artists. This will add to the attractiveness of the cars and add art to the community.

Sacramento, CA:  Will the Los Rios Pass be apart of the smart card as opposed to having a sticker?

Reply:  Yes, Los Rios will be part of the smart card program. The smart cards will replace the Los Rios stickers.

Folsom, CA:  The trains to Folsom Mon. - Thur. that leave at 3:58pm, 4:28pm, and 4:58pm are full already. Is anything planned for the passenger load going up with the rise in gas prices?

Reply:  We have been thrilled with the good commuter ridership we have seen, especially since the State of California Furlough Friday program ended, but it has definitely resulted in some crowding issues on some of our trains. There is a plan to add additional peak-hour, peak-direction limited stop trains on both light rail lines. This service is currently expected to begin on the Gold Line in early 2012 and should help relieve the crowding. Another possibility is to operate additional trips at select times, as we did in 2008 when gas peaked at approximately $4.50 per gallon.

Sacramento, CA:  I noticed that after the rain, some of the recently installed information signs at Light rail stations were turned off, did the rain damage them? and another question what other Light Rail Stations will be selceted for new signs?

Reply:  Some of the sign cabinets had a small amount of water intrusion. The vender has been resealing the them. We turned the signs off that had water intrusion, while the work was being done by the vendor. You should notice them being turned back on now and over the next few weeks. The mounting poles and electrical work is being accomplished for the rest of the first phase of signs. Twenty two stations will be outfitted with signs. I don't have the list with me, but I will have it posted after the GM Chat ends. We have been granted funding for the rest of the signs (needed to outfit all of the stations). We are likely to receive the grant funding by the end of the year.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Mike, on my way home I have seen new rails and ties over at the most western end of the Roseville Road Station, my question is are these placed here for possible double tracking to Watt/I-80 from Roseville Rd

Reply:  We do have the extra rails and ties necessary to construct the additional double track. Unfortunately, the State of California has not allocated the funding we secured years ago to do the actual installation. I'm afraid that, given the State's budget, it will be several years before we receive the State money we were promised.

Oak Park, CA:  with your comment about purchasing new neighborhood shuttles does this mean you will be adding new routes?

Reply:  The vehicles are all planned replacement vehicles for other vehicles near the end of the useful lives. We are also buying some hybrid vehicles for the neighborhood ride service. As we complete our COA it is likely that we will be planning a significant expansion of our Neighborhood Ride program and these types of vehicles will be required.

Sacramento, CA:  Just wondering, what are you going to do with those replica trolleys? new service perhaps? maybe a more enhanced downtown shuttle service?

Reply:  The replica trolleys have exceeded their useful life and will likely be replaced. We have yet to decide what vehicle to purchase as a replacement. That will be determined by our COA.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Thank you for your participation and congratulations again to our TransitAction Awards winners from this morning's event. The chat will be live once again next month on Friday, May 6, from noon to 1 p.m. at