Transit Talk with the General Manager

December 02, 2011
Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO, returns to host Transit Talk today from noon to 1 p.m. The system is accepting questions now through the end of the chat.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Before we start today's chat, I would like to thank everyone who showed their support for the Blue Line Light Rail/ Cosumnes River College (CRC) parking structure groundbreaking at CRC in November. The parking structure will serve both students and RT passengers when it is complete in spring 2013.

The start of construction demonstrates RT and CRC's determination to push forward on transportation projects during difficult economic times. In addition to the benefit for students and RT passengers, the parking structure will also create approximately 100 jobs in the Sacramento region.

To begin construction on the Blue Line to CRC, RT is seeking approval from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to enter into Final Design. Once approved, the next step is to negotiate a Full Funding Grant Agreement with the FTA. RT staff is working diligently to move this project forward and will likely begin construction in fall 2012.

RT's Green Line to the River District expansion project also continues to progress and is scheduled to open in early 2012.

Let's begin today's chat.

Sacramento, CA:  When is RT going to go back to a regular bus schedule on Sunday? And why can't light rail have the same schedule all week long? The trains get pretty crowded on weekends. Thank you!

Reply:  As you are probably aware, our level of service is driven by funding. During the past five years RT's income from sales taxes, and subsidies from the State and Federal Government have been dramatically reduced. Consequently, RT's operating budget was cut by 33 percent. Fortunately, we have been able to stabilize our financial situation and are now in the position of considering modest service improvements. Those improvements are being developed through a comprehensive review of all of our service called TransitRenewal. This service recovery plan will be presented to the RT Board of Directors for their adoption in February 2012.

CA:  just got off bus when are you going to have better signs for bus service service ? ex today CIM no service Sunday 8am to noon pictures are worth a thousand words jt

Reply:  It is difficult to understand the issue you are raising. The California International Marathon (CIM) will run Sunday, December 4, 2011. RT has posted information on our website, on all buses and trains, on posters at light rail stations affected by the planned service disruption, and at all affected bus stops.

Sacramento, CA:  When will the Green Line to the River District open for business?

Reply:  We will open the service in two phases. We plan to open the new 8th and H/County Center station on January 9, 2012. The remainder of the line will open when the new station at Township 9 (7th and Richards Blvd.) is complete. That is scheduled for the end of February. At this point we are looking at an opening in March 2012.

CA:  I believe your EAS system would be better served by leaving when last LRT left as well as when next train is coming HOW hard would it be to try or change system even when you go interactive ????

Reply:  The information we are currently posting on the electronic signs is the scheduled arrival of the trains. Once we complete the installation of additional equipment along the rail tracks or on the light rail vehicles the signs will display real-time arrival information.

country of sac, CA:  IF light Rail goes down have you established alter bus service ?

Reply:  When light rail service is disrupted we form bus bridges to transport the rail passengers around the section of the light rail system that is out of service. We have been doing this since the system began operation in 1987. This emergency service plan is a standard part of our operation.

country of sac, CA:  16thn street is largest transfer point south and east, (smallest station) 4K numbers if you moved the 2-4 minute transfer window up to 8th and O street where 34 , 15 start when service goes out for more then 30 minutes you give your riders alter bus service to move around and expand holding cap for passenges will read answers MONDAY THANKS JT

Reply:  You're correct that 16th Street is our busiest station with over 4,000 daily boardings and almost 85 percent of the passengers there make a transfer between the two light rail lines, which is why we schedule the trains for a quick transfer at that location. If we moved the transfer point to 8th & O streets, people would have to ride an additional five minutes into town and five minutes back out. The current operation is designed to create the greatest level of convenience for our customers.

Sacramento, CA:  I would like to see headways on light rail stay at 15 minutes until the end of the day. Why does it go to 30 minutes after 7 p.m. and can it be changed?

Reply:  Service frequency in the evening hours is a factor of demand. As we begin to restore service levels we will consider improving frequency to match ridership levels.

Sacramento, CA:  Are there plans to have later service for LR past 9:00 p.m.?

Reply:  RT is in the process of developing "TransitRenewal," a comprehensive operational analysis of the entire RT bus and light rail system that will result in recommendations for transit service improvements over the next five years. We are currently in the latter stages of the study and our team is nearly ready to present recommendations for service standards and restorations. However, all changes will be dependant upon the funding available. As stated earlier, federal funding levels are currently uncertain while state funds seems stable. As we look to restore service, our top priority is later night service on light rail and selected bus routes.

South Sacramento, CA:  I know that there are going to be major changes come Spring 2012? What are your changes for bus and light rail service for that time? And are there any additional changes that we may not know about?

Reply:  At this time we anticipate making schedule adjustments in April 2012 to accommodate the new Green Line to the River District. With the new line starting up, including a new station at 8th & H that will also be served by the Gold Line, there will be a great deal of work to do adjusting schedules not only for all three light rail lines but also all connecting bus lines. Work on the April schedule is in fact already well under way. Look for additional changes to bus routes later in 2012 as we implement the recommendations from our TransitRenewal project.

South Sacramento, CA:  You also indicated about possible changes to Route 55? Any additional information on that route and other south area routes?

Reply:  Route 55 experiences heavy ridership, which can cause it to run late. We've been considering service enhancements to a number of routes that serve Cosumnes River College that could affect Route 55. We anticipate having recommendations from the TransitRenewal project in January 2012 which we will share with the public in January and February, 2012.

Sacramento, CA:  RT helps make Sacramento a world-class city and destination. Where do you recommend we voice our support for continued RT fundings and expansion efforts? (City Council, Mayor's office, SACOG, state and nat'l DOT, etc?)

Reply:  RT gets major funding from the State of California, through Sacramento County taxpayers, and through the federal government, and we definitely depend on support from the city and mayor of Sacramento, SACOG, and others. Probably the number one issue going on right now in terms of transit funding is at the federal level, where Congress is debating how much money to authorize for transit in a new multi-year bill for all surface transportation. If you're a supporter of more money for transit, letters to Congressman John Mica, Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as well as to Senator Barbara Boxer, Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, would be a great way to make your voice heard. At some point RT will be seeking an increase in local financial support from the voters in Sacramento County. Your support with this effort will be extremely helpful.

Sacramento, CA:  How are/is the UTDC refurbishment going and when are they going to enter service.

Reply:  The work is underway and going well. We need the first vehicles when we open the Blue Line to CRC extension in June 2015.

Sacramento, CA:  Is there any plan on getting some of the bus seats deep cleaned or reupholstered

Reply:  When the buses are serviced and seats are stained or dirty, the seats are cleaned or the upholstery is replaced. Most nights buses are inspected as part of their service. Please feel free to inform our bus operators if you observe a dirty seat. Our operators report any defects on a bus to the service team.

CA:  Is RT planning to go to the voters for any kind of additional funding mechanisms during the next election season?

Reply:  RT is currently working with a number of advisors to evaluate the feasibility of asking the voters to provide additional funding for transit as soon as November 2012. No decision has been made at this point.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  I ride the Granite shuttle, and I want to know why it's changed since Paratransit used to operate it. We used to be able to call for a ride at any time, and we had donuts on the bus in the morning. Can it be changed back?

Reply:  Granite Regional Park elected to contract with Regional Transit to operate this shuttle service. They were looking for a more reliable and cost effective service, which we are providing. The service provision is dictated by Granite Regional Park through our contract. If Granite Regional Park would like to augment this contract, RT is willing to consider changes.

Sacramento, CA:  I have noticed that the 80/84 line is running 15 minutes late recently and I have to connect to watt/Manlove for the 72 and I have to keep asking the driver to the 72 just about everyday. What is going on along that is causing such a delay?

Reply:  These two routes tend to be difficult for the driver to keep on time. We get a lot of passengers on these buses and there is also a tremendous amount of traffic on Watt Avenue. We are looking at increasing the frequency and streamlining these two routes in TransitRenewal. We also are getting close to providing real time bus information where you'll be able to see its exact location.

CA:  Hello- is Fed funding for local transit agencies like SacRT in competition so so speak for funds for the high speed CA rail project that lately has been controversial?

Reply:  It is true that federal funding for high speed rail is part of the overall federal surface transportation bill. Recent drafts of the bill have actually lowered the amount of money for high speed rail, and added money for New Starts, which funds light rail expansions.

folsom, CA:  When will the message boards at the train stations start displaying real time train info?

Reply:  As I stated in an earlier question, RT is still evaluating the best technical approach for providing this service. Once we settle on the best solution it will require about six months to complete the installation.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Thank you for your participation in today's chat. The next session of Transit Talk is scheduled for January 6, 2012, from noon to 1 p.m. Have a great December and a safe holiday season.