Transit Talk with the General Manager

May 06, 2011
Dee Brookshire, Chief Financial Officer
Fiscal Year 2012 Budget and General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Thank you for logging on to the May 2011 session of Transit Talk with the General Manager. Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO, is unable to attend due to prior engagements and looks forward to returning to the forum next month. Dee Brookshire, RT Chief Financial Officer, will be the guest host this afternoon. We are accepting questions now through the end of the chat, which will be live at noon.

Comments from Dee Brookshire: 

Good afternoon. My name is Dee Brookshire and I serve as the Chief Financial Officer here at RT. I am responsible for all finance, accounting, cash management, grant funding, and treasury functions at RT. I am also responsible for district-wide budgeting and financial planning.

At the April 25 RT Board of Directors meeting, the Board authorized the release of RT's budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012. The document is currently available for review on our website.

The current FY 2012 budget forecasts operating revenue growth to outpace the increase in expenditures, but also assumes full State Transit Assistance funding could potentially be affectted as state legislators continue budget talks.

The document also outlines the growth in revenue that would be needed to restore nighttime and weekend light rail service to operating levels seen prior to June 2010 service reductions. All major categories of RT revenue and expenditures are detailed and shown in comparison to prior fiscal years.

I will do my best to answer your RT finance and general transit questions today, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and insight on the proposed budget for FY 2012.

Sacramento, CA:  When will RT expand light rail farther south?

Reply:  That's a very good question. RT is currently working on a project to extend the Blue Line south to Cosumnes River College from the Meadowview Station. This 4.2 mile project is in the preliminary engineering stage and RT is working with the Federal Transportation Administration to gain the approvals needed to move forward with the project. The project is expected to be completed by December 2014. Expansion farther south will depend on future funding availability.

Sacramento, CA:  Is it prudent to predict and increase in ridership of more than 3 percent over the next fiscal year?

Reply:  RT is projecting an increase in fare revenues of 3.6% for FY 2012 over current year projections in our Abridged Budget which is out for 60 day public review. This increase is based on expected increases in ridership due to gas prices rising to over $4 per gallon, which has in the past caused a rise in ridership, and the end of the State of California's furlough Fridays. We believe this projection is realistic and are closely monitoring both ridership and fare revenues.

Folsom, CA:  Do you have a specific point of contact for the City of Folsom for light rail issues? I haven’t gotten any responses from the general email addresses. Would like to know if any of the Electronic Status signs are planned for the Folsom stations.

Reply:  You can contact Regional Transit with questions regarding Folsom light rail issues. Our Customer Advocacy number is 916-557-4545. RT does have plans to install electronic message signs at four Folsom light rail stations including the Iron Point, Historic Folsom, Glenn and Hazel stations. Installation should begin early to mid-summer, starting with the Iron Point light rail station.

Sacramento, CA:  The signage at 7th and L station still reflects the old Mather field destination. Needs to be updated to Folsom/Meadowview destinations.

Reply:  Thank you for alerting us to the problem. We will check the signage and update it as needed within the next several weeks.

Sacramento, CA:  I saw that Sacramento State is having issues paying their student pass contract with RT? How much is the contract worth this year and next?

Reply:  The issues seem to be internal to Sacramento State and have not, thus far, affected their payment of the RT contract. With regard to how much the contract is worth to RT, the contract between RTand Sacramento State includes a calculation based on ridership and student enrollment. In recent years it has run between $600,000 and $900,000 per year, based on the current methodology.

Folsom, CA:  Are you planning on replacing the handicap lift at 8th and Capitol with a ramp?

Reply:  Due to site limitations, there are currently no plans to replace the lift with a ramp.

Folsom, CA:  Where will we be able to transfer between the Gold and Green lines?

Reply:  Green Line trains will run to 13th Street, so Blue and Gold Line passengers will be able to transfer to/from the Green Line at 13th Street, Archives Plaza, 8th & O Streets, 7th/8th & Capitol, and at St. Rose of Lima Park light rail stations. Gold Line passengers will be able to transfer to/from the Green Line at 7th & I Street and the future 8th & H Street light rail station.

Sacramento, CA:  When will the new signs at light rail stations be turned back on? Some are working and some are not.

Reply:  Some of the sign cabinets had a small amount of water intrusion due to rains in late March. The vender has been resealing 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 during the week of May 16th.

South Sacramento, CA:  Two part question. A) Are you planning to add any more park and ride spots at other light rail stations? and B) Do you have any early indication of what the result of the COA Analysis would be?

Reply:  The Blue Line extension to Cosumnes River College will add Park-and-Ride lots at Morrison Creek, Franklin Blvd., and Cosumnes River College. As for the COA, RT staff and consultants have just about finished the initial data analysis, including maps of travel patterns and detailed ridership analyses of all routes. An extensive public involvement process for this project is planned and we will be convening several advisory committees in early June. At those meetings, we will share what we've found from the data analysis and discuss needs and opportunities in more detail.

CA:  for some reason now, for me, I couldn't pull up RT's budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 anywhere from the website...

Reply:  There is currently a notice of Public Hearing for the the Fiscal Year 2012 Proposed Budget on the front page of our website. We will add a link to the budget document to that page this afternoon. If you would like to look at the budget before then, you can go to and click agenda item number 12 from the April 25 RT Board of Director's meeting.

Sacramento, CA:  When will the construction work in downtown and the River District be over?

Reply:  RT's share of the construction work in downtown and the River District is limited to the Green Line to the River District light rail extension which is expected to be completed in August 2011.

Sacramento, CA:  What is the status of the new Smartcard program that will affect several transit agencies in Sacramento?

Reply:  RT is the lead agency on the regional Smartcard project and has been working with SACOG on the most recent step to award a bid to develop the project. SACOG has received and reviewed proposals from major manufacturers. The next step is to award a contract to the successful bidder, which is anticipated to occur at the May 19 meeting of the SACOG Board of Directors.

CA:  thanks for helping me to link to the proposed fY2012 document...I appreciate that

Reply:  You are welcome.

CA:  I go to school on Del Paso Rd and take night classes and would like to use transit but the last bus leaves at 5:30pm. My friend has the same problem where he goes to school - all the trade schools hold classes until 10pm. Do you take into consideration night schools when scheduling your buses?

Reply:  Yes, night schools and other later evening activity is considered in route planning. Later evening service on Route 11 - Truxel Road is also one of our most common requests. Unfortunately, for the last several years, service expansion has not been possible. As our financial situation stabilizes and improves, this is an area that will be evaluated as part of the Comprehensive Operational Analysis now underway.

Comments from Dee Brookshire: 

Thank you for participating in today's session of Transit Talk. Mike Wiley will be back next month on Friday, June 3 from noon to 1 p.m. Have a good afternoon.