Transit Talk with the General Manager

February 01, 2013
Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Transit Talk with the General Manager will be live Friday, February 1, 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 thank you for joining us for today's GM chat.

March 21, 2013 marks the 5th Annual State of RT Breakfast and TransitAction Awards. The event will be held at a new venue this year, the Hyatt Regency Sacramento.

The State of RT provides an annual forum to discuss the Sacramento region's transit priorities, and the TransitAction Awards recognize efforts in support of transit and honor selected nominees that have made a significant and positive impact to public transit in the Sacramento region.

RT is now calling for nominations through Friday, February 8, 2013. Nominations for the TransitAction Awards can be submitted for the following categories:
  • Business of the Year
  • Organization/Agency of the Year
  • Transit Oriented Development of the Year
  • Elected Official of the Year
  • Individual/Transit Advocate of the Year
For more information about the TransitAction Awards and how to register for the State of RT Breakfast, visit

Switching gears, I would like to thank everyone who participated alongside RT employees in the March for the Dream on January 21. Thousands of people walked to remember the contributions made by the leaders of the American Civil Rights Movement to our country and to support continued change.

The march converged at the Sacramento Convention Center, where I had the chance to present prizes to RT's "I Am the Dream and the Dream is Now" poetry contest winners.

RT's "Season of Civil Rights ... It All Started on a Bus" campaign will conclude at the end of this month. For more information about campaign activities, visit

Sacramento , CA:  On Martin Luther King Day, I used light rail to travel home from the 16th Street Station. I noticed, however, in both directions the electronic signage was displaying weekday train schedules and not Sunday Train Schedules. Was this because it was Monday on the calendar and not Sunday? How can RT look into this so that this will not reoccur on Presidents' Day and Memorial Day and/or other holidays in the future where a Sunday Schedule is in effect on a day other than Sunday?

Reply:  The sign software is able to show the correct schedules when the holidays fall on a week day. I will check to see why this wasn't the case on the holiday.

Sacramento , CA:  I am concerned about a matter that another rider brought to my attention. I was informed that RT and others are entering into "talks" to simplify the boarding and alighting process of riding transit throughout the region just by showing a "reader" a single card. My concern of this stems from the fact that my work involves individuals who either are older adults 62+ and/or individuals with developmental disabilities. Will you have some massive outreach to staff members of places like these so that staff like myself at these particular worksites can comminicate to our folks exactly what they have to do to change their existing transit I.D. Cards? As a follow-up, will you and the other transit operators have extended photo I.D. Hours (including weekends) when the appropriate time comes to handle the high number of people needing to make such a change in their lives?

Reply:  The regional transit operators are installing a "Smart Card" electronic fare card system. RT will run a pilot (limited test) in the fall of 2013. When the pilot is successful, RT will be the first operator to implement a system wide application. The new system will replace the identification cards we currently use with a new electronic ID. The new card will allow riders to tap card readers as they board a bus, or tap at a light rail station to board the trains. We have a good deal of outreach planned before we begin the system-wide implementation. The new system should be much easier for our customers and operators. It will speed up boarding and make buying a pass or a ride much easier for customers. The outreach is scheduled to begin this summer.

Sacramento , CA:  Last month, I read from a "Transit Talk" participant their wanting to ride RT to Kings Games. It is for lack of service at night that I go to River Cats and not Kings, however, I'm clearly excited for the potential of a "Downtown Plaza" Arena. On that note, if that project is approved, what impact to ridership do you anticipate during as well as after construction?

Reply:  Thank you for the question. I'm glad to hear you are a regular "Transit Talk" reader. As to the specific questions you have raised on impacts to ridership during and after construction, when construction of a downtown arena takes place, the impact to ridership would be minimal to non-existent during construction. We have completed a great deal of research regarding transit ridership associated with downtown arenas that indicates between 10% and 20% of people attending events will utilize transit. If the arena is located and designed to enhance access to transit, our ridership will increase significantly.

CA:  After the Blue Line to CRC, what will be RT’s next large expansion project?

Reply:  We are currently working on a number of projects. We are holding a ribbon cutting ceremony on a new compressed natural gas fueling facility at McClellan Park on the 22nd of this month. This is a major phase of the development of a second bus maintenance facility. We are also working with the Cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento, The Yolo County Transit District, and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments to develop a new streetcar line. Construction on that project could start by 2015. The next priority to extend light rail is extending the Green Line from Township 9 to Sacramento International Airport. This project may be constructed in phases. Additionally we have a number of major capital investments necessary to maintain and upgrade our existing system. These include replacing our bus and rail car fleets as they reach the end of their useful lives and upgrading most of our existing light rail stations to accommodate low floor cars.

Sacramento, CA:  I've always been curious as to why the decision was made to put the St. Rose of Lima stop well short of the corner (of 7th and L) when it was relocated a couple of years ago. I always see people running across 7th street and then having to run half a block down K street in order to get around the end of the train.

Reply:  Because of the addition of the Green Line Service and the opening of the Amtrak Light Rail Station, we needed to move the station to 7th to share the location with the Gold Line, Green Line and Blue Line. The new location was the best site option available for the new station. Seventh street between K and L streets has a significant slope. In order to meet federal accessibility (ADA) requirements, we had to locate the station in the current location. If we built in closer to the intersection it would not meet the ADA requirements.

Sacramento, CA:  What do you think about the Jerry Brown proposing to provide less money for biking and walking improvements in Ca?

Reply:  There are a good many special interest competing for the limited state funds. Governor Brown is trying to balance those interests in his budget. This is a tough process with many hard decisions as the Governor attempts to balance the state budget. With our transit riders dependent upon good access, these decision often negatively impact our riders. On balance, I think the Governor should be commended for his efforts to balance the budget and help our State to overcome our fiscal challenges. At RT we have made many difficult decisions over the past several years to deal with our own fiscal challenge. Fortunately, those decisions have paid off and we are adding new service and delivering critical capital projects. It is my hope that the State of California can follow our lead.

Folsom, CA:  Thanks for Transit Talking with us. I am a regular rider on Light Rail from Folsom. Is there anyway that RT could provide light rails on a 15 minute schedule from Folsom to Downtown?

Reply:  Thanks for the question. Later night service and more frequent service to Folsom are among the most requested service improvements we receive. With regard to your specific question, RT is very interested in improving headways to Folsom from thirty minutes to 15 minute service. Providing limited stop service to Folsom is another project on RT's capital improvement plan (CIP) that will improve service to Folsom. Again, all it takes is money. The projects are in the queue but are unfunded. RT has a service contract to provide rail service to the City but it is fiscally constrained to the specific service you now see. If the City of Folsom were willing and able to provide additional funding, providing later night service would be possible sooner rather than later. You may want to consider taking these improvements up with the Folsom City Council at their next or future meetings.

Sacramento , CA:  Last month, you mentioned that "a list" is being put together for a May Public Hearing of service changes that would potentially take effect in January 2014. Specifically, if you can, what routes would have extended evening hours on nights and weekends, if your Board agrees to it?

Reply:  Any service improvements are subject to available funding. We won't know the extent of funding availability until our budget for next year is approved by the RT Board of Directors in June. With that said there are a number of improvements being considered. The following are some of our ideas: Light Rail Blue and Gold Line - later evening service seven days a week. Some added service on the following bus routes - 1, 23, 51, 56, 80, and 81.

Sacramento, CA:  Why arent there more east /west routes south of Broadway? Such as 14th ave, 21st ave, and 47th.Ave.

Reply:  Service that operated on these east/west streets in the past did not meet RT's productivity standards and was eliminated during our significant financial crisis in 2010. As we implement new service tied to TransitRenewal we are very focused adding service that is expected to achieve our productivity standards. At the present time, of the areas you mentioned, the only planned improvement is route 8, that is proposed to be reinstated in FY 14 to operate from Power Inn Road, west on 14th Avenue, and north on 65th Street to University/65th Street Station.

CA:  Do you think the resignation of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood could have an affect RT?

Reply:  It depends upon who President Obama appoints as the new Transportation Secretary. Secretary LaHood has been a strong advocate of public transit. We hope his replacement is equally supportive of transit.

Sacramento, CA:  Mike: I live in South Natomas west of I-5, which is 5 minutes from Downtown by car, but Sacramento Magazine calls it the least transit-oriented community in the city. When I asked you before why you wouldn't add bus service to our neighborhood, you said RT had no money. Now, you had enough money to add lots of service last year, but still no bus service for our neighborhood. It is close to a two mile walk to the nearest bus stop on the 88 line, which is not feasible for most residents. When are you going to give us a bus line, if ever?

Reply:  During TransitRenewal, our 18 month long study of RT service, the team developed routing scenarios in South Natomas, including west of I-5. Unfortunately the demand for service throughout our service area exceeds our financial ability to meet those demands. As resources continue to grow we will continue to look for an opportunity to serve your area.

Sacramento, CA:  I am a frequent rider of route 51 and love the service, but even with recent improvements in the frequency of service, the bus still struggles to maintain its schedule, especially during heavy commute times. Are there any further improvements planned for route 51? Maybe running every 10 minutes for portions of the day? Thank you.

Reply:  Our plan, TransitRenewal, is to increase frequency on Route 51 to 10 minutes in FY 14. RT is looking at larger capacity buses such as 60 foot articulated buses on Route 51 as a possible solution to improve the service capacity.

Sacramento, CA:  Hi, thanks for continuing to keep this forum going. In followup to that last question about east/west routes, would the Folsom Blvd. bus (36 - I think) also be returned to service? I know it was only a lightly-used bus, yet I often wonder if presenting that route back in the "Neighborhood Ride" format this time might be an option

Reply:  Instituting service on Folsom Blvd. and Capital Ave. was considered during TransitRenewal. However, the projected ridership made this a low priority and was not included in the plan. We will continue to evaluate all service requests as we continue to consider service improvements in the future.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

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