Transit Talk with the General Manager

January 04, 2013
Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Transit Talk with the General Manager will be live Friday, January 4, 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: 

Good afternoon and welcome to the first GM Chat of 2013. Over the past year, RT saw the fruits of its labor on many projects - with the opening of the Green Line to the River District and the implementation of the first phase of TransitRenewal service improvements standing as two of our largest accomplishments.

I'm pleased to say that the close of 2012 also brought with it the culmination of the pursuit of funding for the Blue Line to Cosumnes River College (CRC) light rail extension project. We will soon put the final signatures on the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) that will provide 50 percent of the $270 million needed to build the Blue Line to CRC.

In celebration of the FFGA and as a great way to kick off the new year, an event will be held at the east entrance of Cosumnes River College on Monday, January 7 at 10 a.m. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff and Congresswoman Doris Matsui will join RT and local officials in putting pen to paper and commemorating this tremendous milestone.

Also visible from the event site is a five-story parking garage and two light rail bridges included in the project already under construction. Construction on the entire project will be underway by spring and is 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:  Three Questions: 1. Why do MANY of the light-rail cars have very high-pitched squeaky noise when the doors are opening or closing? It is very irritating. 2. Why does the on-board "voice" have to (loudly) announce the next stop THREE times --- rather than just a simple announcement. In many cities, the method is as follows (substituting a station name here in Sacramento for this example) "The next stop is 16th Street...16th Street is the next stop". That's it. It is simple and clear...and doesn't disturb other passengers. 3. Why does the light rail NOT SERVE places where many people go to? Other than a stop at City College, there is no stop at the other colleges, not any hospitals, and no shopping malls. goes to places like Watt Ave and the Freeway...where nobody lives...and where the station is mostly deserted from Friday evening to Monday Morning. Why is there no FAST route to the Airport? Why is there no Circular Route? And, why do you not have cars that are at the same level of the platforms...for easier access for everyone. I think that the entire system needs to be re-done. There are many fine light rail systems around the world...Sacramento should not have to have one of the worst ones possible. Thank you.

Reply:  It is important to remember that our system was started in 1987, when low floor cars, as you describe them, did not exist and was built for a very low cost. As we expanded the system we continued to follow the low cost model. As the light rail vehicles approach the end of their life we will be replacing them with low floor cars. However, that will involve reconstructing the existing stations to raise the height of the boarding platforms. We do currently serve Sacramento City College with light rail and ARC with high frequency bus service. On Monday, January 7th we will hold a ceremony to sign a Full Funding Grant Agreement with the Federal Government to help fund the extension of light rail to Consumnes River College. That service will be operational in 2015. Service to Sacramento International Airport is one of our top priorities once we receive additional local funding. We also serve many other major destinations, allowing people to work, shop, and enjoy entertainment. Consequently we carry over 50,000 passengers each weekday and operate one of the more productive rail systems in the country.

Sacramento, CA:  What is RT doing to reduce the number of train accidents? There were a lot more this year.

Reply:  Every accident is investigated for both root causes and potential measures to prevent them in the future. Most light rail accidents are caused by unsafe behaviors by pedestrians or automobile drivers. Our statistics show that automobile drivers often block the tracks in an unsafe manner in front of on coming light rail trains. The other significant occurrence is pedestrians entering the rail area when a train is approaching. With all of the horns, bells and signals, its amazing that people often ignore them. Many of the major accidents this past year involved motorists, pedestrians, or trespassers that were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or were suicides. With all of this said, we continue to add system improvements in an effort to improve safety. Both we and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) analyze each accident for root causes and appropriate actions in an effort to prevent future accidents.

Sacramento, CA:  Hi Mr. Wiley: I have a couple of ideas: would you consider making the first car women only and could the "disabled" seats be labeled as bike seats unless they are in the very front of the train on light rail. I think that providing a women only car would increase ridership on light rail. This is something that has been done in other places. Sometimes guys get on with their rap music and it is really beyond what a lot of people want to listen to. Perhaps this would increase ridership as well as women might feel safer if this was at least offered. The bicycle situation is difficult at times. The stairwells are used as bike areas but there isn't a place to hang onto back there. Riding between Globe and 12th is especially difficult. A lot of riders have figured out that the front and rear seats are bike areas, but not all. Some people won't move for you. We should be able to sit down also. It's safer that way. This is especially important on the old cars with no rack provided. Thank you, Sharon

Reply:  I believe that a woman only car would be a violation of federal law. We are looking at a potential reconfiguration of the seating inside the rail vehicles to be more accommodating to people in wheelchairs. This would have the added benefit of providing additional space for people with bikes. On the down side it would reduce the number of seats on each vehicle.

Sacramento, CA:  Can you explain again what's happening with the Blue Line out at City College this weekend?

Reply:  The Blue Line will be closed between the Broadway and 47th Avenue stations this Saturday and Sunday, January 5-6. Special shuttle buses will operate between the Broadway and 47th Avenue stations to transport passengers back and forth. However, the City College Station will be closed to all bus and light rail traffic. This is due to work that SMUD has to perform as part of the City of Sacramento's pedestrian bridge project at Sacramento City College. This new pedestrian bridge will connect the college with the new development taking shape just west of Curtis Park in the old Union Pacific Rail Yards.

Sacramento, CA:  Good Afternoon, Mike: I wanted to ask a general bus service question. Come September 2013, will RT be implementing any weekday or weekend frequency improvements on current bus routes?

Reply:  The RT Board approved a service restoration and improvement plan that has incremental improvements through 2016. Each year we will work out the details of the improvements we can afford as part of the budget process. The details of the next phase of improvements should be available this spring.

Sacramento, CA:  Hi Mike: While trying to post, my entry inadvertently was sent, but I wasn't finished typing. My concern is about holiday service coordination for riders, like myself and others that ride the many transit services in the Sacramento Region. Why is it that Regional Transit is on a Holiday Schedule for Martin Luther King Day, but other transit agencies in the Sacramento Region are not, while on the other hand, Regional Transit is on a weekday schedule for Presidents' Day, but other transit agencies are on a Sunday Schedule, or in the case of Placer County transit, closed completely? Have the region's transit agencies talked about this? If not, who can the riding public talk to so that all are coordinating their schedules correctly, and on the same schedule for certain holidays?

Reply:  Our holiday service is dictated by the terms of our Collective Bargaining Agreement with our bus and light rail operators union. The other agencies in the region may have different constraints. We also try to recognize those holidays that are recognized by most employers, Federal, State, local and private. Unfortunately, there are some inconsistencies.

Sacramento, CA:  I wanted to ask about Route 38. This route serves DMV on Broadway, but is only once an hour. Is service improvement on the horizon for this route on weekdays?

Reply:  We are planning on improving headways on Route 38 to every 30 minutes, however, this change is not set to take place until 2015.

Sacramento, CA:  I am a rider of Route 15 on weekends. I see that this is now the only route on a section of Grand Avenue, Del Paso Boulevard, and Richards Boulevard, due in large part to service adjustments and improvements made back in September. Will RT be able to take a look at operating this route at once every thirty minutes on weekends, rather than every hour?

Reply:  We are planning on improving Route 15 headways on Saturdays to every 30 minutes in 2014.

North Natomas , CA:  I was reading the online information regarding TransitRenewal and became confused. I saw a recommendation in the large report for reinstating Route 13 (Northgate) on Weekends, but in the "Project Highlights" by year pages, this route never appeared in any of the years. Am I missing something here? If the large 100+ page report is recommending weekend service for Route 13 (Northgate), then what year would this projected to be implemented in?

Reply:  Saturday and Sunday/Holiday service for Route 13 is on "the list" for January 2014, one year from now. Work has already begun on significant service changes (mostly increases) in January 2014. At this stage, we have a list, we are estimating the cost and ridership impacts, and preparing materials for a public hearing including a Title VI analysis and a CEQA document. We anticipate holding a public hearing on these changes in May.

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

Reply:  Our hope is to have the real time information for light rail on line in the Fall of this year. RT recently received a grant to add the hardware to the trains. Our next steps are to buy and install the equipment. In addition to the signs showing real-time information, the real-time info will be available online, on phones and via alerts. RT's buses were outfitted with real-time equipment last year and the public has had access online. The phone application is due to be released next month.

Rancho Cordova , CA:  I wanted to go to a Sacramento Kings Game recently using Regional Transit, but thankfully did not pursue buying tickets, because I read in the schedules that Route 11 & Route 13 does not operate late enough when the game is over to go back home. Will you and your staff be considering later operating hours for these two routes so that riders can connect with light rail when future basketball seasons approach?

Reply:  We recently added extra evening hours on Route 11, however, we don't have any plans to extend hours any further. We are primarily geared around serving everyday travel patterns. We have in the past operated special service to sporting events such as Rivercats baseball, and we are always open to such arrangements, however, we generally only run special service if the event operator is willing to cover our costs.

Sacramento, CA:  Are the new pocket timetables for routes 24 and 34 available?

Reply:  Yes they are. The new timetables for routes 24 and 34, effective January 6, 2013, are available online at The updated printed versions have also been made available on the routes themselves this week.

Sacramento, CA:  What question do you receive the most from riders when out in the community? What question to people who don’t ride usually ask you about RT?

Reply:  The most frequent question I hear is, "When will you be extending light rail to the Airport?"

Sacramento, CA:  Are there any plans to have more cars on weekend Gold Line routes? With the train every half hour, the trains are horribly packed with 2 cars.

Reply:  My preference to increase the light rail capacity on the weekends is to operate trains more frequently. Currently, we are planning to go to a fifteen minute frequency in September 2016. That is several year off. So, in the mean time we can review the level of crowding and see if there is an opportunity to add more cars.

Folsom, CA:  Hello. I am a everyday rider. There have been quite a few times when I've wanted to report a problem or make a suggestion to RT re service or maintenance like lots of broken glass at 8th and O or large tree limbs overhanging lines. I go to your website and it's a huge form to fill out that's not very friendly with smart phones. Do you think you'll have a phone app soon so that the riders can be your eyes and ears to things that need taken care of? This would be a lot simpler.

Reply:  I like the idea of a phone application for riders to report a problem. I will have our technology folks explore this more fully. In the mean time please call 916 557-4545 (Customer Advocacy). They will take your report and direct it to the appropriate internal staff for resolving.

Sacramento, CA:  Are there any plans to attract some business to the Mather building at Mather/Mills stations? Since the "Cyber Cafe" closed a couple years ago it has been abandoned and seems to be in need of something there.

Reply:  The Cyber Cafe closed because of a lack of business. Since they closed, we've shown the space to a few potential businesses. One may be leasing it for a short term need. If you are aware of anyone interested in renting/leasing the space, please refer them to Sharon Fultz (916 556-0308).

Citrus Heights , CA:  I see that RT is on FaceBook, and you can now track RT buses as they travel with RTTracker. Will RT ever have a SmartPhone App or take part on Twitter?

Reply:  RT has plans to release a smart phone application for the RT Tracker in February. Regarding Twitter, social media policies are being discussed internally and Twitter use is part of these discussions.

Sacramento , CA:  Last month or so in the TransitTalk, I saw some interest in pursuingthat legislation that would lower the voter threshold of approving transportation funding measures from 67% to 55%. I have done research, based on your replies and have discovered on the Internet, SCA 4 by Senator Carol Liu. Would you know when the legislative committee hearings are? I want to support this legislation, which I think will go a long way to help the RT funding situation.

Reply:  That's a good question. SCA 4 as proposed, specifically addresses the transportation funding issues of special taxes and voter approval levels. As you saw on your internet search, the legislation was introduced in the Senate on December 3, 2012. Since it is listed as a "non-urgency" "non-appropriations" bill, it is not yet scheduled. It can be acted on anytime after January 3rd and has been sent to the RLS Committee for assignment. This means a hearing has not yet been scheduled. Keep watching the website for more information on the bill.

Sacramento, CA:  Currently with route 72, the drivers will leave Mather/Mills at the exact moment the Gold Line train arrives at the station from Folsom even though it is possible to wait a couple minutes to accommodate the passengers arriving from that train and still arrive at Watt/Manlove at the scheduled time. Is there any way to improve this connection?

Reply:  This is a route where we have had a number of requests to adjust the connections. We always try to make sure when we fix one connection we don't make another one worse. We'll take a look at your issue, thanks.

South Sacramento , CA:  I was wondering if you have any plans to add any new express bus service in Sacramento?

Reply:  RT is considering altering the Route 103 to run as an express route from its starting point at Louis & Orlando in to downtown. There are positives and negatives to this idea, with one downside being current riders using the route at the Watt/I-80 Station would no longer be able to use this bus at that stop. This change would take place in January 2014, one year from now.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Thank you for your questions. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager will be held Friday, February 1, 2013.