Transit Talk with the General Manager

March 02, 2012
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. We are accepting questions now, through the end of the chat.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

RT is currently seeking input from the community on the Transit Renewal Draft Service Analysis that was released in late January. The phased five-year plan outlines recommendations - gathered from community input and route analysis - for future transit service in the Sacramento Region.

The TransitRenewal Plan is expected to be adopted by the RT Board of Directors in April 2012 and will determine how RT will restore, restructure and renew bus and light rail service, contingent upon sufficient funding. The first phase of the plan is anticipated to be implemented in September 2012.

RT will be hosting a series of outreach events at light rail stations and transit centers starting next week to provide an opportunity for RT riders to review the draft plan and offer their feedback. The locations, dates and times are listed below.

Please stop by a booth to discuss the plans or review the draft documents at Your input is important to us and can help make a difference in your community.

Tuesday, March 6
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. - CSUS Transit Center (J Street and Carlson Drive)
3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. - Mather Field/Mills light rail station

Wednesday, March 7
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. - American River College Transit Center (Orange Grove Avenue and College Oak Drive)
3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. - Arden/Del Paso light rail station

Thursday, March 8
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. - City College light rail station
3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. - Meadowview light rail station

Tuesday March 13
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. - Cosumnes River College Transit Center (Bruceville Road East Entrance)
3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. - 16th Street light rail station

Wednesday, March 14
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. - Sunrise Mall Transit Center (Arcadia Drive and Greenback Lane)
3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. - Watt/I-80 light rail station

Thursday, March 15
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. - Florin Mall Transit Center (65th Street and Sky Parkway)
3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. - St. Rose of Lima Park light rail station

Sacramento, CA:  What is the status of the Richards Boulevard project headed up by the City of Sacramento? Some riders would like Route 11 to return to Richards.

Reply:  The City of Sacramento is managing the Richards Blvd. interchange project. We do not have a time line for when it is scheduled for completion. We have been told to expect the work to be done the Fall of this year. At this point I am hopeful that route 11 will return to Richards Blvd. in September.

Sacramento, CA:  What role will "TransitRenewal" have with a potential Entertainment Sports Complex. I listen to 1140 The FAN, and many callers to their weekday shows want to assure that by 09/2015 that they can ride both directions for events there on bus as well as rail.

Reply:  It is my expectation that RT will be providing a high level of both bus and light rail service to the new Entertainment and Sports Complex. RT has been involved in the design of the facility and we are focused on making sure that transit access is a high priority.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Has RT ever considered using reusable tokens instead of paper passes for prepaid daily and single ride fares?

Reply:  Yes. RT had tokens for many years. Toward the end of this year RT will be implementing a "smart card" fare system. Think of this as a reusable electronic token. The card will be reloadable and users/card holders can manage it much like a Starbuck card. Riders will be able to load value onto the card or load passes. When a rider with a smart card boards a vehicle, they will tap the card to the reader and the system will acknowledge their pass (if they have a pass) or collect the fare (if they have a purse). We will have smart card readers installed on all of our buses and at all light rail stations. Watch for a marketing campaign later this year when we roll out the smart card.

Sacramento, CA:  In regards to the upcoming April Service Changes, your website now mentions Route 67 and Route 68. Will these offer riders later evening hours so that State Fair goers in July can ride well past 9:00 P.M.

Reply:  April service changes on the Route 67 and Route 68 will feature adjustments to time points in order to make better connections at 29th Street light rail station with the Gold Line, which is having its schedule modified in April as well.

Sacramento, CA:  IS RT going to do anything about the loud knocking in the 23xx buses??

Reply:  The air compressors on the 2300s makes a knocking noise when they cycle. There isn't anything wrong with the system. It is just a bit more noise than the other systems make.

Sacramento, CA:  Roseville I've heard is considering running two of their local routes up to 9:30 P.M. starting sometime this August. Does RT have any later evening service plans for both Route 21 and Route 93 this September?

Reply:  The TransitRenewal service analysis is now available on RT's website. The timing of later night service is identified by route. I believe that later night service for route 21 is included for September.

Sacramento, CA:  How is the smart-card development going?

Reply:  RT is currently in construction at a number of light rail stations to install all of the connections needed to install the smart card readers. We are also working with INIT, the company responsible for the design and install the system, to complete all of the design work. Testing begins toward the end of the year, with full system implementation after successful testing. The other five transit providers in the region follow RT's implementation. Everyone should be using the smart card by the fall of 2013.

Sacramento, CA:  When the green line opens is RT going to be using the ex-Santa Clara LRV's?

Reply:  The short answer is no. The LRV's RT purchased from VTA in Santa Clara are in repair and are not yet ready for service. The Green Line will be served by the existing fleet of LRV's

Sacramento, CA:  When will the Folsom express open?

Reply:  The tentative plan is to open express service to and from Folsom in 2013. The project is partially funded and RT will need to complete the funding plan, before beginning the signal system modifications needed to operate express service.

Sacramento, CA:  Once enough "TransitRenewal" service has been implemented, will focus shift to re-instating call center days and hours, or has that not been considered?

Reply:  The goal is to automate as much of the customer service center tools as possible for the schedule and bus information. We will soon be offering real time information on bus service, via the web, smart phones and telephone system. In addition, we have two trip planning systems on line for customers to plan trips. With the implementation of the smart card, customers will not need to visit the service center to manager their monthly pass or buy ticket books. Customers will be able to manage them on line or at the new kiosks in the stations. Hopefully, these changes will allow the call center staff to focus on the more complex questions, buy automating the other functions as I mentioned above. We will also look very carefully at the call center days and hours of operation. Our focus will be on providing high quality service to our customers in the most cost effective way possible.

Sacramento, CA:  When I click on the April Service Changes link from your website's home page, I find that I am unable to click on the route name and number for the PDF of the pocket timetable? Will you be able to look into this so that your web surfers would be able to click on their desired route of choice?

Reply:  The updated pocket timetables reflecting the April service changes are still under review and will be finalized by the end of next week, then posted to the web. At the moment, you can use the RT Trip Planner to view the updated schedules. First you'll need to click the trip planner link at, then choose the "RT Trip Planner" (not the Google version). From there, click the "Schedules" menu option offered by the planner. On the next screen, enter a date in April and the route you would like to view. You can view time points, all stops, or select from a list of stops.

Sacramento, CA:  1. When will the message boards at the train stations start displaying real time train information? Can you provide estimated time for this project to complete? 2. When updated schedule for Gold Line LTR will be posted online (for April 1, 2012 changes)?

Reply:  We currently don't have sufficient hardware on the light rail vehicles to accurately predict arrival times at stations. We have a capital project to purchase and install the equipment that we hope to have funded this April. If we receive the funding in April, we will install the equipment and move the signs to real time this fall. The April service changes should be posted on RT's website on Friday, March 9th.

Citrus Heights, CA:  I wanted to strongly recommend RT consider purchasing Articulated buses for the 1, 51, and possibly the 23 line. I know RT is looking at increasing the frequency of the 1 line however I don't think that alone will help the serious over crowding that occurs on that line and the 51.

Reply:  RT has a long range plan to take advantage of articulated buses at some point in the future. Our bus maintenance facility at 29th & N Street is not able to support articulated buses. The new facility in McClellan Park is being outfitted and organized to support articulated buses. The CNG fueling system is being built and will be complete by this fall. The building is an old Air Force facility. It is being rehabilitated for our use as a bus depot. We hope to have the facility partially occupied by late 2013 and in fuller use by the end of 2014. I agree with you that both routes #1 and #51could benefit from larger capacity vehicles. On a side note, the CNG fueling facility will be used by the Twin Rivers School District to fuel their buses and will be available to other transit providers. RT receives excellent natural gas prices because of our buying power. We are currently purchasing natural gas for $.50 to $.60 a therm. This is roughly the equivalent of 75 cent per gallon gasoline.

South Sacramento, CA:  Two questions: You indicated that there will be some service changes to light rail? Do you have any details? Also, how do you feel about a new arena (if it passes) and it's possible effects on RT?

Reply:  Thanks for the questions. Starting with service changes to light rail, RT will begin running an 8th train on the Gold Line in April that will improve service reliability on that segment of the system. I am very hopeful that we will have the Green Line to the River District open in early May. Future changes will be dependent upon TransitRenewal recommendations. Early recommendations will include increasing night service to roughly 11:30 p.m. throughout the light rail system, except for service to Folsom which will remain at 7:00 p.m. Folsom light rail service hours are determined by the contract between RT and the City of Folsom. Second question, how do I feel about a new arena and its possible effect on RT? I am fully in favor, enthusiastic even, about anything that will improve the local economy and increase ridership on the RTsystem. If the new arena passes, RTservice will be critical to its success by transporting patrons from throughout the service area to the new venue for entertainment and sports events.

Sacramento, CA:  I noticed in social media that RT has a "Facebook" page, but not "Twitter" at this time. Is "Twitter" coming to RT or has it been a budget matter to this point?

Reply:  RT is considering using Twitter to help keep our riders informed of service disruptions and other RT news and events. One idea is to tie its use to our light rail electronic message signs when we are able to provide real-time updates. We will announce our presence on the Twitter social media platform when decisions have been made on how to use it best.

South Sacramento, CA:  Status of Route 55? Will it extend past 6:00 p.m.?

Reply:  The TransitRenewal analysis recommends frequency on Route 55 be upgraded to 30 minutes service on weekdays in September. There are currently no plans to extend Route 55's operating hours.

Sacramento, CA:  In regards to the smart card project, you mentioned in a previous answer that there are five transit operators besides RT. What are the other five?

Reply:  The five other members of the smart card implementation are the Yolo County Transportation District, City of Elk Grove, El Dorado County Transit Authority, Yuba-Sutter Transit and City of Folsom. The City of Roseville recently elected to join and will be included once the contract with INIT is amended

Sacramento, CA:  Is the Green Line opening set for the date of the service changes of April 1st, or has that been delayed?

Reply:  No. The Green Line will open when the signaling system work is complete. Late April or an early May opening is likely. As we have more information, we will provide press releases as we firm up the date.

Sacramento, CA:  In one response today, you mentioned that April PDF Pocket Timetables will be posted on March 9th. Will this, by next Friday also include the Green Line schedule?

Reply:  The PDF that will be posted at the end of next week will not include the Green Line Schedule. That will come at a later date.

Sacramento, CA:  When will the new timetable book be out?

Reply:  At this point we will have a new Bus Book out for the September 2012 changes that will include the first set of TransitRenewal improvements. The online Bus Book is updated each time service changes are implemented.

Sacramento, CA:  What is SACRT planning for Monday's protests at the Capital? RT experienced disruptions on Wednesday because of this. Monday is supposed to be bigger.

Reply:  RT has met with representatives from the Sacramento Police Department and the city Events Review Committee who are planning for this event. RT is developing contingency plans in case light rail and bus operations are impacted. However, it's also important to remember that this march is an annual event and RT has not experienced any significant problems during past marches. If all works as planned the march is expected to hold while trains pass the intersections and should not interfere with regular service.

CA:  When will route 56 have it's weekday frequency improved to every 15 minutes?

Reply:  The TransitRenewal analysis recommends that Route 56 have its frequency improved to 15 minutes between Meadowview light rail station and Cosumnes River College on weekdays in September of 2012.

CA:  What’s your take on the Street Car ideas being bandied about by the city council and other entities? How much involvement does RT currently have in these discussions?

Reply:  RT has been a active in all of the discussion with West Sacramento and the City of Sacramento. This has the potential to fill a niche with a high level of service to the downtown areas. RT is being asked to take the project lead in the next phase of the project, which is the federally required Alternatives Analysis.

CA:  I do not have a question but a comment. I am a light rail operator myself in the bay area. I live in Rancho Cordova. Sac RT has done a good job with the funding you have. You all ought to be proud of what you have.

Reply:  Thank you!

Sacramento, CA:  On average how much does it cost to maintain a light rail train? Bus?

Reply:  Based on the most recently published National Transit Database (NTD) reports, it costs RT $45,837 to maintain each of its buses and $109,319 to maintain each of its light rail vehicles per year. These costs do not include fuel.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  I wish you all have better security on the train. I was threatened by a teanager on a train at SUnrise. Now I am afraid to let my wife and young son alone on rt trains.

Reply:  All of our stations have security cameras as do all of our light rail vehicles. We also have security guards posted at many of our light rail stations, including Sunrise. All of our employees and security guards have immediate access to our dedicated police officers and sheriff deputies. Our system has a much higher level of security than most all areas of Sacramento.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  What do you suggest we do when another rider or riders on light rail play loud music or use vulgar language. Asking them to tone things down doesn't always work.

Reply:  Current options also include moving to another part of the light rail vehicle and/or notifying a uniformed police officer, transit officer or security officer on the train or station. You can also use the intercom system on the train to speak directly with the light rail train operator. RT is finalizing plans to roll out a new phone number to which passengers can text to let us know when non-emergency problems are occurring on our system. Passengers have requested this option in the past and RT is making it a reality. More information will be coming out shortly regarding the details and implementation date. For emergencies, we always recommend dialing 911.

sac, CA:  I saw a few unmarked buses at the garage downtown are they going to be used for the neighborhood ride

Reply:  We have received new vehicles in the past several weeks. They now are in service in the North Natomas area.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Thank you for taking time to interact with me in this forum today. Our next session will be held on Friday, April 6, from noon to 1 p.m.