Transit Talk with the General Manager

June 01, 2012
Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Transit Talk with the General Manager will be held on Friday, June 1. We will be live from noon to 1 p.m. and the system will be accepting questions from 10 a.m. through the end of the chat. Thank you for your interest.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

I'm excited to announce that RT is putting the finishing touches on the Green Line to the River District light rail extension and will officially begin operation on Friday, June 15. The first phase of the Green Line project will extend light rail 1.1 miles north to Richards Boulevard and 7th Street at the Township 9 development, connecting downtown Sacramento to the River District. The 7th & Richards/Township 9 Station will be the site of our opening day celebration that will feature an exciting opening ceremony followed by live music and local community booths. Please join us in celebrating this occasion in what will be the first step in extending light rail over the Sacramento River, through the Natomas communities and to the Sacramento International Airport! For more information about the event, visit or contact Jo Noble, Senior Community and Government Affairs Officer, at or 916-556-0118. Last month, RT also began construction on two new light rail bridges included in the future Blue Line to Cosumnes River College (CRC) light rail extension. With an estimated completion date of April 2014, the $21.9 million project will construct two light rail bridges over Cosumnes River Boulevard and Morrison Creek. The first bridge will be located near the confluence of Union House Creek and Morrison Creek, approximately one mile south of the Meadowview light rail station. The second bridge will be located on the west side of the Bruceville Road and Cosumnes River Boulevard intersection. The bridge construction is the second major project to break ground in the past six months as RT works to extend light rail 4.3 miles south from the existing Meadowview Station to the future Cosumnes River College Station. Construction is also underway on a 2,000-space, five-level Blue Line/CRC parking structure at the terminus of the Blue Line to CRC, with work progressing ahead of schedule. Earlier this week, RT received formal entry into Final Design which is a major milestone for the project. RT expects a Full Funding Grant Agreement by December 2012. The light rail extension is anticipated to begin operation in September 2015.

Sacramento, CA:  In last month's "Transit Talk" it was mentioned that RT was shooting for the week of June 11th as the timeframe for the opening of the Green Line to the River District. At this juncture is a date now more firmed up now that this rough timeframe is now fast approaching?

Reply:  We will have a grand opening on Friday, June 15th. We are inviting the public to join us at the new Township Nine station (at 7th and Richards) at 10:30 a.m.

Sacramento, CA:  With the State Legislature now getting into the budget process, what is the RT Position in terms of the Governor's "proposed" 4-Day 38.5 Hour Work Week? More specifically, will RT need to make schedule adjustments and days of operation to Routes like 29, 103, 109, and others I can't think of off the top of my mind at the moment?

Reply:  At this point the Governor's proposal is just that, a proposal. However, if the work day is extended for state employees to 9.5 hours that will make it very challenging for some state employees to use RT's services. We will be able make accommodations on the trains and run four car trains later into the evening. However, adding more buses service is not possible.

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

Reply:  We have a capital project which was recently approved for State 1B funding that outfits the trains with the technology needed to provide real time information. RT received notification of the funding availability last week. We now must order and install the equipment on the trains. I am hopeful that we can be complete the installation by the end of the year.

Sacramento, CA:  With the State Fair coming upon us next month, will RT begin offering late evening or later evening bus service on Routes 67 & 68, or will this even have to wait either until September 2nd or the 2013 State Fair?

Reply:  Currently there are no plans to run Routes 67 or 68 later in the evening, although they will operate on a detour to provide direct service into the main gate of the State Fair.

Sacramento, CA:  Last month, I watched a Channel 14 Replay of your Board Meeting, and was fascinated about RT launching a second website known, I believe as the RTTracker, but don't hold me to that. When does this launch, and will folks be able to receive text message alerts as well as "tweets" for both bus and light rail, or just bus?

Reply:  The real time bus system goes live today. RT used an internal website to conduct our testing. It will be available on RT's website today.

Sacramento, CA:  I didn't get to finish my last question, so let me try again. Something technically went wrong. When the City of Sacramento officially moves the passenger train tracks later this summer, will RT be able to be a cooperative partner in allowing earlier arrivals and later departures on its services at Sacramento Valley Station due to the longer anticipated walking distances to the tracks in which Amtrak Trains will operate on? It was mentioned to me that Amtrak initiated schedule changes on its Thruway Services already in anticipation of the track move in early August.

Reply:  There are no plans at this time to make any further adjustments to the light rail schedule based on the platform relocation at the Sacramento Valley station. We will be extending evening service by two hours on both the Blue Line and the Gold Line in September. We will be monitoring light rail schedules closely when the Green Line opens on June 15, and if any adjustments are needed to any of the light rail lines, we may factor in the walk times at Sacramento Valley at that time as well.

Sacramento, CA:  With the closure of Orion what options are RT looking at come fleet replacement in 2017? Also will the current fleet be able to properly maintained given that only one Orion plant will be open for parts?

Reply:  Orion has announced they would no longer be manufacturing buses. In our next procurement we expect to bid our bus procurement with that in mind. Fortunately, there is a bus manufacturer located in Oakland, California that we expect to be one of the many firms bidding on our next bus procurement. We have a number of suppliers for our bus parts and Orion has assured the transit industry that they will continue to provide replacement parts.

Sacramento, CA:  I have three questions 1. What year will the 62 return to Sunday service? 2. With the City of Sacramento proposing a sales tax increase and with 70% of  Residents saying they would support an increase will RT think to do the same to boost revenue? 3. If RT gets additional funding will You be able to implement some of the Transit Renewal plans sooner, for instance if you get some more funding in January 2013 would you implement changes in April or June instead of September?

Reply:  The return of Sunday service to the 62 line is currently not included in TransitRenewal. RT has evaluated the possibility of asking the voters of Sacramento County to increase local sales tax to pay for transit improvements. Based on current polling there is insufficient support to pass such a measure, since a special tax increase requires approval by two-thirds of the voters. The measure currently being considered by the City of Sacramento would be decided by registered voters in the city, and not county wide. Additional funding, such as a sales tax measure, would allow RT to expedite TransitRenewal, as well as provide many of the improvements contained in our TransitAction plan.

Citrus Heights, CA:  I catch the 21 line on a regular basis at Sunrise and Madison and I find the buses come inconsistently. Some are earlier than others. I find this is due to no timepoint between Trinity & Sunrise and Sunrise Mall. I am asking RT to create a timepoint at Sunrise & Madison to help passengers get a better idea when the bus will come and to slow some of the buses down that end up at the mall 3 to 5 minutes early.

Reply:  The distance between the Sunrise Mall and Trinity River time points is fairly standard. We prefer to avoid an abundance of time points because it tends to slow the buses down, and in general, we like them to be fast! But I will have our schedulers and road supervisors monitor Route 21 in this area to see if a Sunrise and Madison timepoint is warranted. Thank you for your comment.

Natomas, CA:  Are you planning any express service to North Natomas?

Reply:  In the next five years, there are a number of improvements planned for North Natomas. First, we anticipate continuing to operate the North Natomas Flyer routes, which we began operating in March on behalf of the North Natomas Transportation Management Association. Our local Route 11 service will be getting later evening service and Saturday service this September, and Sunday/Holiday service in September 2013. In 2014, we plan to have Route 11 split into two branches in North Natomas, one going to East Commerce via Del Paso Road. The other continuing north on Natomas Blvd., like it does now, but extended farther north.

Sacramento, CA:  I am having concerns as to where buses are dropping passengers near light rail entrances. With Route 72 as an example, buses at Watt/Manlove will park so far away from the light rail entrance that I often have to run a good distance to catch the incoming trains (even before the changes to the light rail's schedule); at Mather/Mills the bus will occasionally not drop us off at the light rail entrance but will circle to where it's designated to park with again having to run a good distance to get to the light rail entrance. This has become an issue with the changed schedules and the drivers should be accommodating to this concern.

Reply:  At the two locations you mention, bus routes have designated stops and the operators are instructed to stop at these locations. However, if the bus is running late you can request the operator to stop at the closest stop to drop you off.

Sacramento, CA:  During school summer break, does RT provides extra service to parks and river.

Reply:  No, however with our light rail service you can ride your bike along the American River Bike Trail and use light rail for your return trip when you get hot.

South Sacramento, CA:  Since there will be changes to Light Rail, will there any more streamling of bus service in Downtown Sacramento? Will there be any more commute bus service other than the four express routes?

Reply:  In addition to our current Routes 3, 7, 29, and 109 which offer express service directly to downtown, we are planning on changing Route 103, which currently feeds into light rail at Watt/I-80, so that it instead takes people all the way into downtown directly as well. With regards to the downtown bus network, RT is currently participating in a Downtown Circulation Study being headed up by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) which is focused on reducing delay at some of the busiest stops in the downtown area.

Sacramento, CA:  When will the Blue Line to CRC be open for service?

Reply:  In addition to the groundbreaking we just had last Wednesday for our two bridges, we also just received a letter from the Federal Transit Administration authorizing us to enter the Final Design period of the project, which is a major milestone. We hope to have a Full Funding Grant Agreement by the end of the year, which allows us to begin the remainder of the construction activities. September 2015 is the expected opening day.

Sacramento, CA:  I noticed an unmarked, white light rail vehicle at the light rail yard a few days ago and it looks more similar to a newer Siemens vehicle than anything RT currently owns (older Siemens, UTDC, CAF). Can you explain why RT has this car or if you are exploring some options?

Reply:  We removed the paint form one of our Siemens light rail vehicles to prepare it to be wrapped. This vehicle will be wrapped in a special design for the Green Line. Join us on June 15 at 10:30 a.m. at Township Nine for the opening of the Green Line and experience the new design.

Carmichael, CA:  A few months ago,I moved from an area sandwiched between 84/93 to the Mercy San Juan vicinity served by route 25.When Sunday service is implemented in fall 2013,will it follow the short route(along the Macroni corridor only)or follow the long form(all the way to Sunrise Mall,an area where I work)?

Reply:  The Sunday/Holiday service proposed for Route 25 is only recommended for the short route at this time, ending at Marconi Avenue. We may revisit this if we see strong ridership results from this and the other improvements being made on the route.

Sac, CA:  When will the bus real time be live? At the board meeting, it was discussed as going live today.

Reply:  The real time bus system goes live today. RT used an internal website to conduct our testing. It will be available on RT's website today.

Sacramento, CA:  Are there any plans to purchase Paratransit shuttle buses that run on an alternative fuel?

Reply:  We are working with Paratransit Inc. to begin to evaluate the possibility of acquiring alternatively fueled vehicles. We are currently operating five Compressed Natural Gas vehicles on the North Natomas Flyer and testing hybrid gas-electric buses in our Neighborhood Ride fleet.

North Sacramento, CA:  I use the Arden/Del Paso Station frequently for both bus and light rail. I've noticed that back in April, light rail schedules changed, but only a handful of bus route schedules changed, which did not include any bus routed at the Arden/Del Paso Station. This has caused some "close calls" if you will between exiting the bus and entering "Meadowview Bound" Trains. Will RT Scheduling folks be able to look into adjusting the schedules of all the bus routes at the Arden/Del Paso Station for September so that these "close calls" will not occur for arriving bus routes and departing bus routes?

Reply:  I will ask our scheduling department to look at the schedules of buses serving this station. You should be aware that some of these are currently being considered as they are being adjusted as part of our first phase of TransitRenewal improvements being implemented in September.

Elk Grove, CA:  Last month you talked briefly about express changes (on the Gold line if I recall). Was this more of a "thought experiment" with no real plans or will RT be adding express trains? If so, when will they roll out and on which lines?

Reply:  RT's engineering staff has conducted a great deal of design work on the improvements necessary to operate limited stop express service on the Gold Line. This work is necessary to develop the bid specifications to upgrade the train signaling system. We are also using this information to identify the full cost of the project. We currently have approximately $3.6 million secured to implement these improvements. I hope that we can complete this project next year.

Sacramento, CA:  I see that you have a grand opening for the Green Line to the River District. When will the light rail line be open for service? Can you tell me a little about the service?

Reply:  Friday, June 15 will be the grand opening at 10:30, with the line open to the public after festivities conclude. Complimentary tickets will be available at the RT booth at the Township 9 station on Richards Blvd. Regular service will begin on Monday, June 18 and will run Monday through Friday between 7th & Richards/Township 9 and 13th Street stations with 30 minute frequency. The first trip will leave Township 9 at 5:59 a.m. and the last trip will leave 13th Street at 8:43 p.m.

South Sacramento, CA:  Are you seeing any passenger or revenue increase this year than in the past few years?

Reply:  We have seen an increase in light rail ridership this year compared to the past two years, Bus ridership has been fairly flat over the past two year time period.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Thank you for participating today. The next session will be held on Friday, July 6, from noon to 1 p.m.