Transit Talk with the General Manager

May 04, 2012
Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to log onto Transit Talk with the General Manager. We will be live from noon to 1 p.m. and the system is accepting questions now through the end of the chat.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Good afternoon and welcome to today's online chat.

RT has been hard at work in the office and out in the field to deliver light rail expansion projects that will help improve mobility in the Sacramento region.

The Blue Line to Cosumnes River College (CRC) light rail extension project, which will extend light rail 4.3 miles south to CRC, reached a significant milestone in April when RT was awarded a Letter of No Prejudice from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to start construction on two aerial structures.

The letter allows RT to begin construction this month on two light rail bridges included in the project. Everyone is invited to attend a ceremonial groundbreaking for the bridge construction later this month. More information, including the date and time, will be forthcoming.

RT is still working with the FTA on Entry into Final Design. A Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) would then be the last hurdle to clear before construction can begin on the entire project. The FFGA is a commitment from the FTA to fund 50 percent of the project's $270 million cost. If all goes as planned, construction work on the extension will begin in 2013.

The future Green Line to the River District light rail extension project continues to progress with RT now zeroing in on an opening date. Green Line construction crews are currently field testing signal operations at the 13th Street light rail station, as well as completing electrical work at the future 7th & Richards/Township 9 light rail station.

The next steps include safety certification, and operational testing and training. If all goes well during these phases, we will be ready to open for service.

Sacramento, CA:  My workplace is located on a bus line that is being maintained in September, but its current schedule is strung together or "interlined" with routes that are being eliminated in September. What will be the first available opportunity I can take advantage of getting the Septembdr schedule of the route that will be maintained so that I can give, as many weeks in advance as possible, a staff training to people in my workplace of the September Schedule Changes that will be made?

Reply:  Schedules are not usually released publicly until approximately a week to ten days before the changes become effective. However, the schedule on your particular route may be finalized at an earlier date. If you have a large group of employees that you think may have difficulty with the new change, please contact RT's Customer Advocacy Department at 916-557-4545 and provide your contact info so we can work directly with your company.

Sacramento, CA:  It came to my attention that the Green Line to the River District will be opening soon. Will revenue service begin on June 17th so that in coincidences with the start of the Summer 2012 Operators Sign-Up?

Reply:  Yes, we hope to open the Green Line to the River District in the month of June. At this point we are shooting for the opening to occur during the week of June 11, however no date has been selected at this time.

Sacramento, CA:  On the home page of your website, I found the Approved September 2012 Service Changes. I was confused as to what is going on with Route 51. Is it going to run every twelve minutes, or will it stay at every fifteen minutes with additional running time inserted into the weekday schedule? Please clarify on this heavily used Route.

Reply:  Beginning in September of 2012 the #51 bus route will be operated by itself (it will no longer be "interlined" with the #55). This will improve the on-time reliability of both routes. Additionally, the frequency of the #51 will improve from 15 minutes today to every 12 minutes. Finally, the #55 will experience a frequency improvement from hourly today to every 30 minutes.

Rio Linda, CA:  In the September 2012 Service Changes I saw that changes are coming to Route 19. Will riders be able to travel from the Rio Linda community to the shopping centers at Watt & Elverta directly, or will this travel become extremely circuitous based upon changes to this route that I and others are fearing? Many I talk to fear that a trip from Rio Linda to Watt & Elverta will require riding Route 19 to Arden/Del Paso, then Light Rail to Watt/I-80, then Route 84 to Watt & Elverta. This will take too long, and riders may resort to driving instead. You would not want that at Regional Transit now, would you?

Reply:  We have received a number of questions about this change. The only changes happening on Route 19 this fall will be that the service south of Bell Avenue will move from Rio Linda Boulevard to Norwood Avenue. There is a plan to eliminate service on Elverta Road and Watt Avenue, due to low ridership on Elverta and redundancy on Watt, but that is not scheduled to happen until 2014 when we double headways on Routes 80 and 84 on Watt Avenue. So for now, there will not be any changes for Route 19 riders going from Rio Linda to Watt Avenue.

Sacramento, CA:  When the Green Line to the River District does open, will it have roughly similar span of opetating hours as the Blue & Gold Lines do today and come September and beyond?

Reply:  For the initial segment to Richards, we're currently planning on starting it at approximately 6:00 a.m. and running it until approximately 8:30 p.m. on weekdays only. It will also operate on a 30 minute frequency.

Sacramento, CA:  What service changes, if any are coming on June 17th? Your website is very detailed in regards to September minus the exact schedules for each of those changes.

Reply:  Service changes for June 2012 include modifications to the schedules for Routes 38 and 103. For Route 38, in an effort to improve on time performance, the trips leaving 5th & Broadway at 6:32 and 7:28 a.m. will leave at 6:23 and 7:23 a.m. respectively. The additional running time will be added throughout the trips. Both trips will still arrive at University / 65th Street at the same time as they do currently. New pocket timetables will be available a week before the changes are made. For Route 103, in an effort to improve the connection to the Blue Line in the afternoon, the first three 103 trips will leave 10 minutes later than they currently do. All other times will shift accordingly. The fourth trip will be shifted in September.

Sacramento, CA:  What do you think of the new commuter service planned from Galt to Sacramento?

Reply:  I think it's great!

Sacramento, CA:  how will the smart cards be distributed? Will the cards be free?

Reply:  The current plan is to issue the first 50,000 free as part of the kick off for the new system. This fall we plan to begin an advertising campaign in preparation for the test period and eventually full implementation of the system in 2013. As to how the smart cards will be distributed: they will be available at our light rail stations, in our customer service sales center, through outlets where our passes are currently sold, and via mail for subscribers to the new smart card web based sales system.

Folsom, CA:  When will the new Light Rail System Maps be published showing the new Green line?

Reply:  New light rail system maps showing the Green Line to the River District will likely be available online at least a week in advance of the opening, which is not currently scheduled. The new maps will be posted in the light rail trains before Green Line service begins.

Sacramento, CA:  I'm confused in regards to route 82 leaving American River College. Sometimes with the same driver, it will leave ARC for 65th street a few minutes ahead of schedule and the next day it will leave several minutes after it scheduled at the driver's discretion since the schedule was changed in April. Can something be done about this considering all the students that will pick this bus up right after their classes end?

Reply:  Route #82 should never leave American River College (ARC) before the scheduled leave time. ARC is a time point in our schedule and our operators are not allowed to leave a time point ahead of the scheduled leave time. If this happens please contact our customer advocacy department at (916) 557-4545 and report the day and time of this happening. Bus operators will be asked to delay their schedule to allow for transfers. Our general rule to allow connections between buses operators can wait for up to three minutes. Occasionally a schedule will have excess time and an operator will wait until after their scheduled leave time, because based on their experience they can arrive on time at their destination even though they leave late.

Folsom, CA:  Have you considered running expresses using buses rather than trying to squeeze in extra trains? Might be easier to implement, and even faster sometimes.

Reply:  We actually have plans to transition Route 103 (Auburn Blvd.) from being a light rail feeder to an express bus direct to downtown. Routes, 3, 7, 29, and 109 also use the freeway to get quickly to downtown. There are pros and cons to using express buses rather than extra trains. Currently the Folsom trains are very popular and crowded, so we think extra rail service on the corridor is likely to be well-used. the other advantage to a limited stop express train is that it will continue to stop at our more heavily patronized stations, providing access to more customers than an express bus. Finally, trains are not subject to the frequent disruptions that occur on our freeways.

Sacramento, CA:  How it's not a standard for route 72 at Watt/Manlove station to wait for the light rail going to Sac Valley when it is easy to miss the connection by 1 or 2 minutes that the bus could wait for?

Reply:  We have to make sure when we adjust the schedules that by fixing one connection, we don't make another one worse. We're already looking into Route 72.

Elk Grove, CA:  An additional question. Brazil has had BRT for some years that utilize exclusive right-of-ways that are barrier or grade separated from automotive and other traffic. Is that how RTs BRT service will operate? Or will it be more like the Bay Areas BRT service which designates BRT lanes as nothing more than a diamond lane (with nothing really stopping cars from using/abusing those lanes)?

Reply:  RT's TransitAction plan envisions a number of high-bus corridors that will operate with a combination service types. Our Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service will likely operate in a number of environments, including exclusive right-or-way, diamond lanes, and mixed flow with other automobiles We will design the service to fit into the community and to meet the passenger demand.

Elk Grove, CA:  In looking at RTs Short Range Plan, I noticed in Figure 3.1 that "Hi-Bus" is broken down into three categories; Express Bus, Enhanced Bus, and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). What is the planned mix of these three categories (ie will it be 50% express, 40% enhanced, 10% BRT)?

Reply:  Engineering work is already under way on parts of Watt Avenue to provide a dedicated lane. Most of the corridors that are currently served by core bus routes, such as Watt Avenue, Stockton Boulevard, and Florin Road, are planned to eventually have Enhanced Bus or BRT service. The services on less-developed corridors such as Elkhorn Boulevard would, on the other hand, start off as express bus routes until ridership develops. The percentage distribution between the service types is still flexible. The decision for each corridor will be established during the detailed design process.

Folsom, CA:  Could you elaborate a little as to the actual time savings of a Folsom express train vs a normal Folsom train?

Reply:  The idea is to run the express train in front of the next regular local train. By not stopping at many of the stations the train will save time and begin to catch up to the local train in front of it. This could save as much as 9 minutes of travel time in the perfect scenario. As an example the express train departing from Sunrise in bound would depart before the regular in bound train. The train travels inbound stopping at only a few stations. Over time the express train begins to catch up to with the train that was 12 minutes ahead of it. As you can guess, the train cannot pass each other. So the time savings must be less than 12 minutes. So on a roughly 55 minute trip from Folsom to Sac Valley Station might save 8 minutes turning the ride into a 47 minute trip.

Sacramento, CA:  I frequently use bus stops on El Camino & Del Paso. It came to my attention that amongst Routes 15, 16, 19, and 25the that starting in September, this particular intersection will only be served by Route 15. Is this correct, or did people that told me this have their facts incorrect?

Reply:  This is correct. Route 15 will continue to serve Del Paso Boulevard from Rio Linda Boulevard to the Arden/Del Paso light rail station every 30 minutes on weekdays and every 60 minutes on the weekend. By eliminating some of these redundancies, we will be able to provide a number of improvements in the area including weekend service on Norwood Avenue and later and more frequent service on Route 25.

South Sacramento, CA:  I saw the changes to Route 55 and you've indicated that Route 51 will not be associated with the route. Will there be a schedule change to the route also when it comes into effect this September?

Reply:  The schedule for Route 51 will change because it will go to a 12 minute frequency. The Route 55 schedule may also change, as it is going from a 60 to a 30 minute frequency.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Thank you for participating today. The next session will be held on Friday, June 1, from noon to 1 p.m.