Transit Talk with the General Manager

December 07, 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. and the system will accept questions from 10 a.m. through the end of the chat. Thank you for your interest.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

RT is celebrating its 5th annual Season of Civil Rights with a series of events during the months of December, January and February to build awareness of the significant role that transit has played in the American Civil Rights Movement.

The campaign began on December 1, when RT reserved a seat on every RT bus in honor of Rosa Parks. On the same day in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey a bus driver's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Her simple act of defiance played a critical role in the American Civil Rights Movement, as it ignited the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

During the campaign, an RT bus with large exterior images of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. will travel on different routes throughout the Sacramento region; RT will sponsor the 14th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner; and take part in the March for the Dream and Expo on Monday, January 21. The Expo will be held at the Sacramento Convention Center where winning poems from RT's "I Am the Dream and the Dream Is Now" poetry contest and RT's 1958 "Old Blue" historic bus will be on display.

For more information about the campaign, visit and click on the Season of Civil Rights link.

I'm also excited to report that RT is one step closer to finalizing an agreement with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) that will bring $135 million in federal funds to the Sacramento region. The FTA has notified RT of its intent to sign a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) to fund 50 percent of the $270 million Blue Line to Cosumnes River College (CRC) light rail extension project. The signing of the FFGA will allow project construction to begin in early 2013.

With prior approval from the FTA, a five-story parking garage and two light rail bridges included in the project are already under construction, with the entire extension expected to be complete in September 2015.

The Blue Line to CRC will extend light rail 4.3 miles from the current terminus at Meadowview Road to Cosumnes River College and add four new stations (Morrison Creek, Franklin, Center Parkway and Cosumnes River College).

More information about the Blue Line to CRC can be found at

Sacramento, CA:  I recently received some information in the mail from your staff regarding Title VI and fare changes. Are you and your staff proposing to eventually go to the Board of Directors and present a potential change to the fare structure be it an increase or decrease in the current fares? If all works out, when would the fare change likely take effect, September 2013?

Reply:  The next fare changes are anticipated to take place one year after the implementation of our new smart card system. Full implementation of the smart card system is scheduled for early 2014, a little over a year from now..

Sacramento, CA:  Will Light Rail weekend services become once every fifteen minutes starting in September, or would that take away resources from options being considered for the bus side?

Reply:  We currently do not have plans to improve light rail service frequency on weekends in September 2013. Increased weekend light rail frequency is a component of TransitRenewal. However, it is scheduled in a later phase.

Orangevale, CA:  I see on your website that Route 24 will have extended weekday service hours, starting in January. Are there still efforts underway in September to eliminate Route 24 and replace it perhaps with Route 1 on Greenback and Route 25 on Madison, with both Routes going to the Historic Folsom (Sutter Street) Station?

Reply:  We have been doing conceptual work on major changes to Route 24. For a long time it has not met our standards for productivity, but since it is the only route covering a large area, we want to find a way to make it more efficient rather than just get rid of it. One of the things we thought was wrong with it was that it didn't run early enough or late enough to be feasible for downtown workers. Although it involves additional cost to add hours, the trips we are adding in January are an experiment to see if we can actually make the route more productive by spending just a little bit more on it. In the longer term we are considering reconfiguring this service to provide connections between Sunrise Mall and Historic Folsom via Madison Ave. and Greenback Ln.

Carmichael, CA:  Two light rail questions:First,will SLP2 to CRC run on the same frequency as the rest of the Blue Line even after frequency improvements on the 56.Second,how soon will the rehabbed/used VTA cars enter service?

Reply:  The frequency of service with the extension of the Blue Line to CRC will not change. In fact, the extension contemplates the operation of additional limited stop express service during the rush hour. The work on the UTDC light rail vehicles that we purchased from VTA is currently underway. The 1st car will complete scheduled in late 2013.

Foothill Farms, CA:  In regards to Route 93, will weekday morning frequency be able to be modified to look like most of the rest of the day? It seems like "Inbound" trips are not consistently once every thirty minutes.

Reply:  The morning schedule for Route 93 appears to have some "gaps" in it at first glance, but many of those gaps are actually filled by Route 103. At that time of day we have found that a greater percent of riders are headed for light rail so they can go downtown. Route 103 basically provides a faster trip to light rail, although it does skip part of Route 93. Occasionally when we schedule two routes to work together like this, we need to review the schedules and tune them up, especially if we're getting complaints about it; however, we have not really had any complaints about how it's currently working.

Sacramento, CA:  This is in regards to a repair issue that has not been done since April, despite repeated phone calls. The bus stop at El Modena Ave and Elverta Road on the westbound side has been broken and down since April. I have personally made 4 telephone calls regarding this. Drivers repeatedly do not stop at this location. Or they stop nearly 1 block later, giving the excuse that there is no sign there.

Reply:  I will have staff look into this. Contact Mike Mattos ( with your contact info and he will share with you what we find.

Sacramento, CA:  Will there be any extra service for the new year's eve celebration in Old Sacramento?

Reply:  RT will operate on a regular schedule on Monday, December 31, 2012. Currently the last train headed to Sunrise Station will depart Sacramento Valley Station at 11:39 p.m. and the last train departing St. Rose to Watt/I-80 is at 12:23 a.m. I am considering adding a few additional trips that night if we have sufficient staff available. If we decide to offer additional scheduled service we will make special announcements.

Sacramento, CA:  With the "Oak Tree" incident that occurred earlier this month, what measures is R.T. taking to make sure something like that doesn't ever happen and victimize riders and R.T. again?

Reply:  We regularly inspect our right of way for tree problems. Trees are trimmed to avoid branches falling onto the overhead wire and tracks. Events like the recent tree falling on our overhead wire may happen from extreme weather conditions. As you can guess, it is nearly impossible to determine what weather conditions might do to an otherwise healthy tree. We cannot guarantee that trees will not fall.

South Sacramento, CA:  In regards to the Blue Line to CRC, Are you and your staff working on a bus service delivery plan that is related to this light rail extension, but is separate and in addition to transit renewal?

Reply:  During the TransitRenewal process, we took into consideration that the Blue Line to CRC was expected to open in September 2015. The changes we made to Route 54 actually were designed around Blue Line to CRC, although they work fine without it. We also assumed that the Blue Line to CRC would help reduce crowding on Route 56. Other than that, however, we did not conclude that any radical changes were needed to any other bus routes, as most of our routes in that area already use CRC as a transfer point. The express service that we used to run from Elk Grove is now operated by e-Tran, so there is probably a potential for those services to be altered. We are building capacity into the CRC station to handle Elk Grove buses if necessary.

South Sacramento, CA:  What is the status regarding the Connect Card system that you are planning to install?

Reply:  We are well into the project. Construction at light rail stations for the smart card devices is 50% complete. The vendor (INIT) is fabricating the equipment for the buses and light rail stations. We hope to be testing the system this summer with a schedule roll out next fall (or early winter). The other transit agencies in the region will implement smart card following our success.

Folsom, CA:  What did you have to do that took so long to clean up that tree in Folsom? Wire problems usually seem to get fixed in a few hours to at most a day. Just curious...

Reply:  The wire in Folsom is installed a bit differently than the rest of the system. In most of the system we have weights that tension the wire, and would have acted like a shock absorber in the event of a tree falling on the wire. In Folsom, our wire is strung with tension and no take up weights. Because of this the damage was greater than we normally see. In most cases only a short section of wire (100 to 200 feet) is damaged. With this latest incident we had over 2500 feet or one half of a mile of damaged wire. It also took approximately 12 hours for two work crews (one from Folsom and one from RT) to clear the tree so that repairs to the wire could begin. Work crews were still removing tree remains as late as Tuesday, nearly three days after the tree fell. This was an extremely large tree that caused unprecedented damage to the system.

Sacramento, CA:  I have a route suggestion with the 26 could it be possible for the 26 to follow its current alignment to university 65th then follow the old 36 alignment to downtown that way you have a productive route that satisfies requests for 36 route restoration

Reply:  Route 36 ridership was below our standards of 20 boardings per hour for weekday service, so we do not have any plans to restore this service, even as part of a different route. A big problem with Route 36 ridership was always that most people opted to take light rail instead, because of the more frequent 15 minute headways, even though it may have been a longer walk.

Sacramento, CA:  Any considerations to extend Route 11 to the airport? Along the future Green Line route.

Reply:  This is something we've debated and costed out before, but we have never concluded that a Route 11 airport extension would be a productive route for us or a priority compared to service elsewhere. We do, however, have plans to significantly expand and improve Route 11 in general for the purpose you alluded to, that is, to build up ridership in the corridor in advance of the Green Line.

Sacramento, CA:  Has SacRT had discussions with Roseville Transit on improving connections for the Green Line? We have several employees in the Richards Boulevard area who would be better served if the connections were better. Thank you.

Reply:  We work with Roseville Transit regularly to coordinate our service. Your employees who live in Roseville should contact Roseville Transit and make the request directly. If Roseville Transit wants to make a change, they will contact us to work out the details. The Transit Coordinator for Roseville Transit is Mike Wixon (916) 774-5480.

Folsom, CA:  One participant, earlier, asked a question on the "Oak Tree" incident. Related to that, will the City of Folsom be entitled to a financial rebate over what they normally would be billed for having R.T. provide light rail service for the missed days of Sunday through Tuesday, or will the City have to pay its regular share for the 31 days of December regardless of the three days that went without light rail service?

Reply:  At a greater cost than the missing light rail service, RT provided buses operating to Sunrise Light Rail Station and Hazel station from the Folsom Light Rail Stations. So no, we do not foresee any change in our funding formula with the City of Folsom.

Sacramento, CA:  In seeing news reports that the Assembly and Senate have "supermajorities" is Regional Transit and other California Transit Agencies seeking a constitutional amendment that would lower the threshold to pass transportation funding measures on local/regional ballots from 67% to 55%? It is hard enough now to pass transportation funding measures as it is, and I think undertaking such an effort will go a long way to fixing California's Infrastructure. I would like to heavily get involved in this effort, if in fact you want to pursue such an effort.

Reply:  Regional Transit supports this measure and the concept of reducing the threshold to pass transportation ballot measures in the State of California. This measure is was introduced in the legislature this past session and is still pending. The California Transit Association (CTA) is tracking and supporting this measure as well. Having this constitutional amendment approved would go a long way in assisting local communities to meet their local transportation needs.

Sacramento, CA:  What kind of feedback have you received regarding the City Ride shuttle in Citrus Heights?

Reply:  We are receiving mostly positive feedback on the City Ride. Ridership is growing slowly but surely as word about the service spreads. We have a number of community presentations scheduled in the near future to help continue the ridership growth. One issue we recently fixed was having the City Ride serve the RT stop at Louis Lane and Orlando Avenue. With this stop just outside the Citrus Heights city limit, we were having problems with our scheduling technology including this stop in acceptable destinations.

Sacramento , CA:  Any plans to add weekend service to the 61 to match the increase in frequency

Reply:  We don't currently have any plans for weekend service on Route 61 although we are planning on improving weekday headways from 60 to 30 minutes.

North Highlands, CA:  Why can't we commuters @ Watt & I80 have a safely lighted, clean station? Stairs are dark & the smell of human urine is so strong you have to hold your breath to climb them.

Reply:  Lights and cameras have been added to the stairway. We are contracting for an abrasive scrubbing of the stairs and then a coating to seal the concrete so that urine and excrement do not penetrate the concrete. The station is being cleaned, up to three times a day, and is being inspected by the security guard frequently, so that inappropriate deposits can be removed. We are also going to begin repainting the stairway and landing to help improve the look of the stairways. We are planning additional capital improvements to help deal with the aging of the station. We will share the details early next year.

Sacramento, CA:  When will rt implement limited stop light rail service on the gold line?

Reply:  This project is currently planned to be completed in the FY 2015 to FY 2017 time period. We currently have approximately $4.0 million of Capital Funding for this project, however the total projected budget is significantly higher. The costs have increased for this project, and the scope has changed as well. The project is now the "Gold Line Enhancement Project", and includes 15 minute frequency to the Hazel station, additional double tracking, a second boarding platform at Hazel, and a potential station at Horn Road. The timing of the completion of this project is subject to obtaining the remainder of the funding.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Thank you for your questions and I would like to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager will be held Friday, January 4, 2013.