Transit Talk with the General Manager

September 02, 2011
Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Transit Talk with the General Manager will be live today from noon to 1 p.m. The system is accepting questions now through the end of the chat. Thank you for your interest in RT and public transit.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

In August, RT representatives staffed TransitRenewal information booths at select light rail stations and transit centers to encourage public participation in the TransitRenewal process. It was great to see so many people at each location take interest in the project, fill out a survey, interact with RT staff, including myself, and provide their input on how RT can improve service over the next five years.

The goal for TransitRenewal is to identify ways to restore, restructure and "renew" transit service in an effective, sustainable manner that prioritizes long-term environmental and financial health for the region. The need for the analysis was identified, in part, after economic conditions required RT to implement major service reductions in June 2010.

As of this morning, more than 2,000 people have taken the TransitRenewal survey. We encourage everyone to spread the word to encourage further participation in the process to help improve transit service in the Sacramento region. The survey phase of the project will remain a priority through September 2011 and the survey is available online at The website also includes information, reports and presentations related to the project.

With local sales tax revenue figures reported higher than what RT had conservatively budgeted, there was discussion about possible restoration of some late night service on light rail and select bus routes as part of an "early action" plan for TransitRenewal.

The improvements would be welcome; however, federal transit funding remains uncertain. The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act - A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), the federal law that governs America's public transportation and highways programs, expired nearly two years ago and the current extension ends September 30. A proposal has also been made to cut federal transit funding by a significant percentage.

A long-term federal decision, along with more time to evaluate local sales tax receipts, is prudent before implementing any additional service. We are hopeful that funding will be available to restore some much-needed service in 2012.

Questions on the TransitRenewal process are welcome today, as are your general transit inquiries. Let's get started.

Sacramento, CA:  Why do the park and ride lots in Folsom and Rancho Cordova don't pay to park? Seems unfair.

Reply:  The RT Board of Directors choose the current pay lots as part of a pilot program which staff is evaluating. Staff will be presenting results of the evaluation to the Board of Directors in the next few months for their consideration. At that point the Board will decide what to do with the program, including possible expansion.

Citrus Heights, CA:  At the Watt I80, Watt West and Roseville Road, I recently noticed that RT put up signs that say, "Caution -- No pedestrian traffic." Can you tell me anything else about these signs? Thanks.

Reply:  We have seen an increase in pedestrians walking along the road between the three stations. There are no provisions for safe pedestrian movements between the three stations. The road was designed for vehicle traffic and does not include sidewalks or other provisions for pedestrians. Our safety staff noticed the increase in pedestrian traffic and asked that the signs be installed. This warns the public of the hazard and allows RT staff, security guards and police officers to stop and warn pedestrians walking along these roads.

Citrus Heights, CA:  How long is the construction at Auburn and Greenback going to last? It is not wheelchair accessible. I’m surprised a ADA complaint hasn't been filed..

Reply:  The City of Citrus Heights is managing this project, which is designed to improve traffic and pedestrian flow through the intersection. Beginning on September 5th through September 25th, the intersection will be closed from 9 PM until 5 AM for construction. As part of this construction, three of RT's bus stops are being rebuilt by the city for easier access. If you contact Citrus Heights they will help you with paths you can take around the construction. I am sorry for your inconvenience during the construction, but the resulting improvements to the roads and bus stops will improve your access to the city and our stops.

sacramento, CA:  I am a parent of a student of Arden Middle school. My daughter and several other students use the bus 84 to get home. Recently she and the others were told they could not ride for the student rate without a student id. None of the children have current student id's as they have just returned to school and they are not yet available. While we all understand the rules concerning student id's, we do not appreciate the actions of the bus driver, leaving children and making them walk home. Also, no students have id's as of yet and we would appreciate consideration of this fact.

Reply:  Correction Posted - Students ages 5 to 18 must have an RT Student photo ID card to buy monthly or semi-monthly stickers at the discount rate. Students can use their school ID as well, but only to purchase a single ride or a daily pass. In order to purchase a monthly or semi-monthly pass you will need to purchase the RT Student photo ID. . The RT student ID card can be purchased for three dollars at the RT Customer Service and Sales Center located at 1225 R Street. Students must show proof of school enrollment or be accompanied by a parent or guardian to purchase the ID card, which is good for three years. A discount monthly sticker can then be purchased and affixed to the ID card, or the ID card can be used to buy a single ride or daily pass at the discount rate.

Folsom, CA:  What's the status of the electronic message board installations? When will they be installed in Folsom?

Reply:  Iron Point and Historic Folsom stations are both on the list for the first phase of message sign installation. They are near the end of the list. They should be installed within the next 60 days. The Glenn station will be installed as part of the next phase, which will begin next summer.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  Are we any closer to extending service on bus and lightrail in January 2012?

Reply:  Because of the uncertainty of federal transportation funding, RT's Board of Directors chose to postpone a decision until the federal budget is more certain. I am closely monitoring the federal situation and hope that congress and the president come to terms on transit funding soon. If they do not make cuts that effect our federal funds, I will present to the Board a modest service restoration plan. Unfortunately, because of the delay the earliest we will be able to enhance our service is April 2012.

Sacramento, CA:  Regarding the smartcard are the all day passes still going to be issued?

Reply:  Great question. We plan to have the smart card provide all of the current fare options, including the daily pass, and want to add additional options for our patrons. With the auto-load feature and the convenience of the smart card, we hope to see more riders. Traveling between RT's system and the smaller operators should also be much easier, because we will all be using the same smart card. The implementation of the smart card is a real opportunity to simplify our fares and provide much easier payment options. We plan to begin our marketing campaign late next year.

South Sacramento, CA:  You say that there are plans for restructuring some bus routes. Two questions that I want to ask. One, do you have any idea of which routes that you would want to restructure? Two, are there any plans to restructure Route 55? I was thinking that Route 55 can be extended by picking up Route 8, going towards Power Inn from Florin Towne Centre. To me, having Route 55 going from CRC to Power Inn LR Station would make sense.

Reply:  That's a great idea. I will make sure that our planners and consultants that are conducting the TransitRenewal analysis take this into consideration. If you haven't already done so, please participate in our online survey for TransitRenewal. There is a link on the main page of our web site.

Downtown Sacramento, CA:  With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 just around the corner, does RT have any plans for possible security problems on that day? Thanks.

Reply:  RT receives alerts from federal and state agencies and is assisted with our preparations by those agencies. We are not aware of any credible threats but are taking several proactive measures. Over the years since 9/11 staff has added quite a few new security systems and changed policies to provide additional protection for the public and RT system. Officers from the City of Sacramento Police Department and the Sacramento County Sheriffs' Department are assigned to RT to provide security. Over the intervening years since 9/11 they have changed their protocols and procedures in response to potential threats.

CA:  Any interesting news on the Green Line? Are you optimistic that the station at Richards Boulevard will be completed by the Township 9 developers early next year?

Reply:  The Green Line construction is continuing with our contractor expected to complete their work by the end of October. That leaves the construction of the Township 9 station as the last element needed to complete in order to begin operating the Green Line trains. Currently the developer of the Township 9 station is scheduled to complete their work by the end of December.

Sacramento, CA:  How much, on average, does a new light rail car cost?

Reply:  Approximately $4,000,000.

Rocklin, CA:  When will the COA be complete and how is the public able to commment?

Reply:  RT's comprehensive operational analysis, or TransitRenewal, is scheduled to be complete by the end of November 2011. The public can continue to participate through the end of September by filling out RT's online survey on our website. As of last week we had received over 2,000 completed surveys.

Sacramento, CA:  I've noticed some work going on between the 13th St. and 16th St. stations, specifically near the crossover. What are the new signals for?

Reply:  This is part of the Green Line signal system work. The trains on the Green Line will be turning at this location, as the Green Line will initially operate between the 13th street and Township 9 stations. New power switches and signals are being installed.

Sacramento, CA:  I have a suggestion for the student ID problem. I have yet to see information on buses or trains that say the ID must be an RT student ID. Making this more noticeable could possibly cut down on having to listen to students argue about the ID. Many do not know because drivers just let it go--and some of those are no longer students. They just try to get on for the discount.

Reply:  The information is often posted in our passenger newsletter the Next Stop News and is available on our website. Below is an article printed this summer and information from our website on student ID. We will also plan on putting up a mini-poster in the bus and light rail train newsstands soon as well.

Back to School with RT (use student ID artwork, but update the expiration date) Beat the rush and get your RT Student photo ID card before the school year begins!

RT Student photo ID cards can be obtained at the RT Customer Service and Sales Center for only $2 during the months of June, July and August ($3 after Wednesday, August 31). Students (age 5 to 18) must show proof of current school enrollment, or be accompanied by a parent or guardian to receive an RT Student photo ID card.

By purchasing your Student photo ID card in advance, you can ride RT at the student rate all summer long. Monthly and Semi-monthly student stickers (fare) can be purchased at retail outlets throughout the Sacramento region (stickers must be affixed to a valid RT Student photo ID card). Imagine all the places you can go ... the movies, shopping and more!

Website Students (age 5 - 18) - Must be pursuing a high school diploma; eligible to purchase RT monthly student stickers with an RT Student photo ID card. RT Student stickers must be affixed to an RT Student photo ID card, not a school ID. Students are eligible to purchase single fares and daily passes with their school ID.

Sacramento, CA:  Where is RT with getting the Placer bus stop moved up to the light rail station?

Reply:  Based on your question I believe you are talking about the Placer bus stop at the Watt/I-80 light rail station. I recently had one of our passengers raise this issue with me and I have requested that our bus stop maintenance staff move the stop closer to the light rail passenger boarding platform.

Folsom, CA:  Can you "repeat" the light rail signs on the web page? The problems link currently doesn't tell anybody anything in real time - the signs may not be much better right now, but they are a little better. Of course, we've learned that "5 minutes late" probably means "on time" downtown (and congrats! Gold Line leaving downtown at least around 4PM has been doing a lot better lately).

Reply:  Thanks for watching as we make improvements to the sign system and the delay notifications. We are transitioning toward real-time data on the signs. As soon as it is working, you will see the signs change from schedule data to real-time data. We will provide notice when we are ready to transition. When we complete the real-time transition, we will begin work on the alert system for smart phones and the website.

sacramento, CA:  In your reply to the parent from Arden Middle School you state "Students ages 5 to 18 must have an RT Student photo ID card to ride at the discount rate, not a student ID from their school". But on page 8 in the RT Bus Book it sates "Students are eligible to purchase single fares and daily passes wiht their school ID". It dosn't seem practicable for every parent of a elementary and middle school student in Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, and Citrus Heights area, to go down to your Customer Service Center and buy a RT Photo ID card. I'm requesting that some type of grace period be given to students until their schools issue them their student ID cards.

Reply:  You are correct. Students can use their school ID as well, but only to purchase a single ride or a daily pass. In order to purchase a monthly or semi-monthly pass you will need to purchase the RT Student photo ID. The student ID card can be obtained at any time during the year and is valid for three years. There is no need to wait until after the start of the school year to obtain the student ID card. Consequently, a grace period is not needed.

Folsom, CA:  Any plans for repainting the current light rail cars so that the designs are consistant? Will they be color coded to match the line (Blue, Gold, Green)

Reply:  The rail cars will be repainted with refurbishments in the future, and also light rail car replacements as they are needed over time. The light rail cars will not be color coded to match the lines. The Gold Line and Blue Line Trains will pass thru the Green Line, and will share the same track, due to this having color coded trains for each line is not possible.

Folsom, CA:  What was going on last Sunday on the Gold Line (o/s beyond Sunrise)? If grinding, I haven't noticed any difference. Line & grade might be more important anyway - problems seem related to reaction to small kinks and dips.

Reply:  RT's track maintenance crew was working on a grade crossing. As to the ride quality, the rail cars are "hunting" for a line as they travel along the tracks. We are grinding (wheel truing) the steel wheels on the trains, to create a proper profile on the face of the wheel. Once this is complete our ride quality will improve. RT's wheel truing machine, which was installed in our maintenance facility in 1987, was rebuilt earlier this year. Consequently, we have a back log to work through to get through the fleet. We are hoping to have most of the wheels on the rail fleet re-profiled over the next six months.

Sacramento, CA:  Is weed killer cost prohibitive or does RT just chose not to use it?

Reply:  RT uses pre-emergents and non-toxic weed killers. Because of the amount of right-of-way RT owns, we are strictly limited on our use of chemicals. These limitation are positive for the environment, but limit the effectiveness of the chemicals. In past years, RT staff and work project workers have manually removed many of the weeds in the right-of-way. With our recent budget cut backs, this service was reduced. If you see a specific area of concern, please contact Customer Advocacy at 557-4545.

Sacramento, CA:  Now that someone recently has been assaulted for asking another rider to move, can driver please now tell riders to move to other seats to acccomodate the elderly and disabled? ((Previously, you told me to ask them for the seat myself. )

Reply:  Our operators are instructed to request passengers to move to seats outside of the senior/disable seating area in order to make room for our transit disable riders. Unfortunately ffederal law does not allow us to insist that passengers move, we can only make the request.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Thank you for participating in today's chat. Be sure to check back next month on Friday, October 7, from noon to 1 p.m. Have a nice holiday weekend.