Transit Talk with the General Manager

June 07, 2013
Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Transit Talk with the General Manager will be live on today, June 7 from noon to 1 p.m. and the system will accept questions from 10 a.m. through the end of the chat.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Today, it was my pleasure to attend and speak at the Blue Line Light Rail / Cosumnes River College (CRC) parking structure dedication ceremony. The parking structure opening represents one of the first major milestones of the Blue Line to CRC light rail extension project, and it's a great accomplishment for higher education and public transit in the Sacramento region.

The $31.5 million five-level parking structure consists of 2,000 spaces, solar panels that produce power for the structure, an electronic sign system that shows available spaces on each level, as well as charging stations for electric vehicles. Security cameras will also help provide a secure environment and two electronic marquees placed on the east-side towers will inform the community of campus activities.

Built through a partnership between RT and the Los Rios Community College District, the parking structure will serve students immediately and future RT passengers when the Blue Line to CRC opens in 2015. Currently, bus ridership numbers to CRC show 1,000 boardings every weekday, totaling more than 300,000 boardings annually. These already solid numbers should rise significantly when the Blue Line to CRC light rail extension opens.

I would like to thank the leadership at the Los Rios Community College District and CRC for their dedication to the project and their support of transportation options over the years. I would also like to thank the numerous local, state and federal government representatives for their support.

Once complete, the Blue Line to CRC will extend light rail 4.3 miles south from the existing terminus at Meadowview Road to CRC and will include four new light rail stations: Morrison Creek, Franklin, Center Parkway and Cosumnes River College.

Two light rail bridges included in the Blue Line to CRC project are also nearing completion, and the start of the civil, track, structures and stations construction is expected to begin soon.

Let's begin today's chat.

Sacramento, CA:  When will the message boards at the train stations start displaying real time train info? ETA? Also, what is status of “limited stop express” light rail service?

Reply:  The State of California has approved funding for the equipment needed to provide real-time train data for the signs. The funding is expected to arrive soon. When we receive the funding, RT will procure and install the equipment. We will post a schedule, when the funding arrives. Until then, we cannot promise a delivery date for the real-time train info on the message signs. Although you didn't ask, the alert system was recently upgraded to provide disruption information on the signs and via the new phone application. You can download the application on your smart phone at .

Sacramento (Land Park - Pocket), CA:  During the saga and effort to keep the Kings, I went to many City Council Meetings saying how much bigger than basketball it was for Sacramento. Now that that fight has been won, I am ecstatic about a new Downtown Entertainment Sports Complex coming in 2016 or 2017 at the latest. Saying that, I want to go to events, but in a "green" way. Your services in my area, Route 2 and Route 6 do not serve me well at the present time because they do not have night or weekend/holiday service. As the construction of the new facility takes shape, will you and your staff be addressing these and all the bus routes that would go by the facility and see, besides funding, how these and other routes could be improved? Would you need a study to be done by a transit consulting firm that would be a study separate of the TransitRenewal Study due to some of the service complexities involved in service to a Downtown Entertainment Sports Complex?

Reply:  We are also extremely excited about the Kings staying in Sacramento as well as the location of the new arena. We have already begun work to evaluate the service enhancements necessary to support all of the activities associated with the new arena, including bus, light rail, and streetcar. The success of the new arena will be dependent on effective transit service. RT is working very closely with our partners at the City of Sacramento and the new arena representatives to make sure this becomes a reality.

Elk Grove, CA:  I'm not very well versed about your bus service, but I am interested in using light rail from one of your new South Sacramento Stations when they open up to attend events at Sacramento's Upcoming New Downtown Arena. When I looked at your website, just before joining you in this forum, I saw a link to the Blue Line to Cosumnes River College and that this extension will have four new stations. I have two questions based on my research. Based on what you know about the new Downtown Arena, will the four new light rail stations be open before or after the opening date of the Downtown Arena? Would you be able to tell me for each of the four new stations, how many parking spaces will each station have? By the way, your existing bus and light rail timetable book do a great job breaking down the number of parking spaces at each of the existing light rail stations. Thank you for doing that, as that is a great start for folks like me that want to drive and take rail only. Thank you.

Reply:  The Blue Line to CRC light rail extension is scheduled to open in September 2015. With the Arena tentatively scheduled to open for the 2016 NBA season, RT should be ready to provide service on opening night. Regarding the Park-and-Ride Stations: the Morrison Creek Station will include a 75-space Park-and-Ride lot and provisions for a bus transfer area; the Franklin light rail station will include a 668-space Park-and-Ride lot and a bus transit center with four bus berths; and the station at CRC will include a five-level parking structure that will provide 2,012 parking spaces. The parking structure was actually dedicated today and will begin to be used by students as early as Monday. Stairs and a ramp will lead to a pedestrian bridge over the east entrance and connect to the third floor of the parking structure. Patrons will be allowed to park anywhere on the Cosumnes River College campus with a valid parking pass (currently $1 per day).

Sacramento, CA:  I have a budget question. Last month, you mentioned to a participant in "Transit Talk" that there will only be enough funding to expand bus service hours on Saturday's to closely match light rail service hours. Is that still seemingly the situation as far as September or some other near term month from now is concerned?

Reply:  Thank you for the question. The current draft budget for fiscal year 2014 includes only minor service adjustments that are scheduled to be implemented in January 2014.

Sacramento , CA:  Are light rail service hours going to expand on Sunday's to match light rail service hours that are now provided on Saturday's? This will help tremendously, especially for folks going to downtown when the new arena is open and operating.

Reply:  There are only minor service adjustments anticipated to be implemented in January 2014. If the financial picture improves so that sustainable revenues can be identified, the service plan will be reevaluated in light of the recommendations of TransitRenewal. We fully understand that additional consideration for later night service will be needed to serve the new arena.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  My question/comment is regarding Regional Transit and Social Media. Before logging into this month's "Transit Talk," I read in previous months many comments and questions regarding Twitter, or what at least seemed a lack of use of Twitter on the part of Regional Transit. I must say, I am extremely bothered by that. I am very active on Twitter, and have found it as a very useful tool, both personally and professionally. Would you please consider Twitter for Regional Transit? I firmly believe that if you do go the "route" - no pun intended - of Twitter for Regional Transit, that you will gain many followers in just a week or two. Try it. You won't regret it.

Reply:  Hello, We understand the need for RT to have a Twitter account and have began tracking what is being said about our agency on the social media channel. We have reserved a Twitter handle and when RT policies and procedures are put in place, we will launch our presence and begin use. In the meantime you can like RT's page on Facebook. Another way to keep up with RT on your mobile phone is to visit and download the web app to your home screen. It provides real-time bus location information, access to all routes and schedules, and updates bus trip cancellations and light rail service alerts. Give it a try.

North Natomas , CA:  I am a client of PRIDE Industries served by Route 13. On Thursday, I had asked my staff that is familiar with Regional Transit, what is happening at the Monday Board Meeting. He shared with me, while I was on break, the item pertaining to the Quarterly Ridership Update. I am concerned that Route 13 is not meeting performance standards, based on what PRIDE Industries Staff has told me. For the trips that I ride, they are packed with standing loads. Are you considering drastic action on Route 13 including, but not limited to complete elimination just because it has failed to meet productivity standards since last September, or are you considering major Route 13 modification? Would you please be able to detail what your action plan for Route 13 is? I want to assure my care provider and my service coordinator that I can continue to rely upon RT to get me to PRIDE Industries in the future. Thank you.

Reply:  Route 13 is not in danger of elimination. The last quarterly report shows route 13 at 19 riders per hour, just short of our 20 rider per hour goal. Average daily ridership has increased by 16% since the September service change. Our Board adopted policy provides a two year period for new or modified service to meet our standards. At the rate of growth experienced on this route since September 2012, there is plenty of time for further performance improvement.

Sacramento, CA:  I heard through recent news reports on television that CalTrans will be doing major rehabilitation work on the W/X Freeway? Does Regional Transit have a service action and a financial plan in place for the time frame that this work is taking place? Will similarities and differences be in place here in comparison to the time frame that "boat section" work on Interstate 5 was being done?

Reply:  Caltrans normally reaches out to Regional Transit when they are working on their detailed planning. As with the Boat Section, we expect to support Caltrans efforts as they work on the W X Freeway work. At this point Caltrans has plenty of time to discuss specific transit mitigation measures for this construction work.

Sacramento, CA:  When will the lightrail expansion from Meadowview Station to Cosumnes River College be finish?

Reply:  Our scheduled revenue service begins in Sept 2015.

Sacramento, CA:  A few months ago I asked about parking spaces at Watt/Manlove being closed off by cones for a while. They cones were removed shortly after asking a question here about why. Thanks for getting those spaces back open for use for riders!

Reply:  Your welcome. We work to be as responsive as we can to our customers.

Sacramento, CA:  I have a folding bike and could I bring it on the bus folded if the bike racks are full?

Reply:  Folding bikes are allowed on RT buses but you must be able to keep in out of the isles. To increase bike capacity on buses, RT is also supporting a state bill sponsored by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (AB206) that will allow racks with the capacity for three bikes to be placed on our 40-foot buses. Currently, the larger racks would push the 40-foot buses past state vehicle length regulations. The bill was passed by the Assembly by a vote of 71 to 1, and this past week was approved unanimously by the Senate Transportation Committee. If it is approved by the full Senate, it will then be sent to the Governor's office for his signature, and will take effect in January. We are expecting to receive a federal grant in the next several months to fully fund this purchase.

South Sacramento, CA:  Do you have any further changes to Routes 54 or 55? Especially with extension of service time?

Reply:  Minor service changes will be planned for January. Details should be finalized this summer. Routes 54 and 55 are being examined with our analysis of bus route realignments and service hours with the Blue Line Extension to CRC opening September 2015.

Sacramento, CA:  San Joaquin RTD is getting ready to implement Nova Articulated bus service. Is RT ever planning on this type of bus? It would be practical on several routes. Also, Who's the frontrunner to replace the older Oriins?

Reply:  Regional Transit's new bus maintenance facility (at McClellan Business Park) has been designed to accommodate articulated buses. I have directed RT staff to consider the acquisition of a few articulated buses as part of our next bus purchase. We currently operate a few routes that could benefit from larger capacity buses, including route #51. As part of TransitAction, we see articulated buses as a key component of delivering better service on our high ridership routes. As to your question about the departure of Orion from the bus fabrication business, we expect many of the bus manufacturers to bid on our next bus procurement including the Gillig Corporation.

Sacramento, CA:  Speaking of social media has Regional Transit considered Google+ and the use of their "Hangout" service?

Reply:  I will have RT's Marketing and Communications department look into a presence on Google+. Currently there are no plans to use Google's "Hangout" video chat service.

South Sacramento, CA:  Are you planning more express bus service, especially in areas such as in South Watt, Elk Grove-Florin Road area?

Reply:  RT's long range plan, TransitAction, provides for express bus service. We are currently planning service for the Jackson Corridor development with consideration of an express bus taking South Watt to Watt/Manlove Light Rail station. Development of an Elk Grove-Florin Road area express bus is further out in our long range planning.

Roseville, CA:  Ever consider branding light rail? I know folks who have been here for years and don't know about rail service. Maybe branding similar to Tri Met Maxx, SD Trolley, Sprinter etc. Would provide greater recognition in the community.

Reply:  When Light Rail opened in 1987 it was named "RT Metro" through a naming contest sponsored by the Sacramento Bee. The name never caught on and was abandoned. You may have noticed that there is a Green Line vehicle on the system with a Green Line color and graphic scheme. This has generated more positive interest.

Rosemont, CA:  Have you considered push notifications on your mobile app? It would be a nice feature, especially since you are cancelling service on a daily basis.

Reply:  Your right, that would be a nice feature in a future version of the mobile application. In the meantime, we have the desktop application where you can register for e-mail notifications on the service you use. Those e-mails can be sent to your phone. We are also working to eliminate the service disruptions that have been caused by a lack of bus operators. We are recruiting as rapidly as we can to fill a shortage.

Sacramento, CA:  Could there be bus service to the Wildhawk area (between Gerber Road and Calvine Road)?

Reply:  The area needs more development in order to have the ridership that will meet our productivity standards of 15 passenger per hour on a smaller bus.

Sacramento, CA:  I love the RT Tracker for the buses. When will it include the trains?

Reply:  Thanks for the positive comments about the Tracker. In an earlier question, I gave the details of the schedule for adding real-time train information. To recap, the funding is approved by the state. As soon as we receive the funding, we will begin procurement and installation of the needed equipment.

Sacramento, CA:  I frequently buy the Bus and Light Rail Timetable Book whenever it becomes available immediately after updating. When does Regional Transit expect the next update of this book? The one I have is dated September 2, 2012.

Reply:  We plan on updating the book at the same time we implement the next major service changes. At this point the earliest that would happen is January 2014.

CA:  For buses and lightrail that has longer route, can RT offer WiFi?

Reply:  We will begin to experiment with Wi-Fi on a few light rail vehicles in July. We may expand it if proves useful and successful

Rosemont, CA:  It is me again. I am not aware of this service you can sign up for. Can you post the link in your answer? Regarding the lack of operators, have you considered having one big class of say 100 operators?

Reply:  The RT Tracker desktop application can be found at It is more robust then the mobile application, with the ability to set up email alerts for bus routes and display buses on route using a mapping system. Regarding operators, a new operator has to complete 6 to 7 weeks of training before he or she is ready to work out on the system. A significant portion of that is behind-the-wheel training. We can only train a limited number at any one time due to the limited number of qualified trainers and equipment we have. RT has recently overhauled our training process to get classes of potential operators qualified more quickly to compensate for the inability to train large numbers at once.

Carmichael, CA:  Two light railquestions:First,I've certain light rail trips running 3/4 car trains during late-morning off-peak periods.Is this common?Second,which Siemens car is getting a new pain job at the storage yard?

Reply:  As we move from peak to off peak service, the extra cars are dropped at storage tracks around the system. This is accomplished as schedules allow. It isn't uncommon for this to take some time to drop the extra cars in storage track locations. We are wrapping two Siemens cars in the new "swoosh" design. The contract was recently signed and the work should begin soon. Watch for them on the system in the next 60 days. If this proves successful and durable we plan on doing the same to the remaining Siemens fleet.

Roseville, CA:  I live near Foothill and Junction and was recently informed while attending a recent Sacramento City Council Meeting from the leader of the Here We Ride Grassroots Organization that Roseville Transit is considering operating at least one of their fixed routes to the Watt/I-80 Station. He informed me that the route would likely serve Maidu Park, which for us in Roseville is a Park-and-Ride lot, but that Roseville Transit service to the Watt/I-80 Station is subject to permission by Regional Transit. Would you please give Roseville Transit this permission so that folks like me will find getting to a new Downtown Entertainment Sports Complex a very useful and easy transit trip that is somewhat difficult today? Thank you.

Reply:  Roseville will need to submit a formal request to Regional Transit. We have interagency agreements that are updated on a regular basis with other transit providers as well as Roseville.

Sacraemento, CA:  Can you guy clean up O st from 7th to 10th street. it is a mess with overgrown weeds, leaves, and garbage and dead plants

Reply:  You may not know this, but the City of Sacramento is responsible for O street outside of the rail area. We recently walked this are because of our concern about the area. Subsequently, we notified the city staff and request that they apply some resources to the overgrown planters and landscaping. It currently looks like an over grown urban forest.

Sacramento, CA:  Would there be a way to put a sign in front of the bike racks "reminding" the passenger who has a bike to put up the bike rack after the passenger is done with it? Lately, I have seen bike racks down when there are not any bikes on it. Few months ago, I was at Cosumnes River College at the signal light and bus 56 was next to me. I looked over and the bike rack was down so, I got off my bike and put it up and the driver thanked me by waving. Lucky, the light was still red. I always put up the bike rack after I'm done using it when I get to location I want to go to.

Reply:  Thank you for your assistance. As a sometimes bike/transit user, like you I always stow the rack when I am finished with it. Yes It frustrates me when others do not stow the rack. As we replace the current racks with new three position racks we can look at additional signage or other communication options to encourage our customers to use the racks properly.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager will be held on Friday, July 5, 2013. Have a great weekend.