Transit Talk with the General Manager

July 05, 2013
Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Transit Talk with the General Manager will be live on Friday, July 5, 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: 

Thank you for joining us today and I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July holiday!

The last few weeks have been relatively quiet regarding major public transit developments in the Sacramento region. However, RT is always working to position ourselves for the future. On Monday, July 22, a public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the RT Auditorium at 1400 29th Street to discuss standards and policies regarding the development and approval of major service and fare structure changes. I want to make it clear that the public hearing is not related to a reduction in service or a fare increase.

The July 22 public hearing offers a great opportunity for the public to comment on changes that will include guidelines for public involvement as well as for the avoidance of discrimination against protected classes in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Specific policies to be updated also include RT productivity standards and the process for discontinuing underperforming routes; vehicle loading standards; transit amenity distribution; what constitutes a major or minor service change; how the public will be notified; and more.

Details on the proposed standards and policies can be found at for review before the public hearing. If you have any questions after reviewing the documents, please contact James Drake, RT Service Planner, at or 916-556-0505.

Thank you and let's begin today's session of Transit Talk.

Sacramento, CA:  What are the roles and responsibilities of the yellow jacket security? I ride regular, and as we all know, perception is viewed by the public. But they always seem to be standing talking to each other in one or more groups, standing in the far end smoking, or talking on the cell phone, especially at Arden station. Not all, cause I regularly see one guy who rides, walks up and down, and perception of him is he seems to be doing his job, but it is always him, the same guy

Reply:  G4S is our contract security company. Their role is to prevent crime, help our passengers feel safe and provide great customer service on the trains, in the stations and at our facilities. We expect them to focus their attention on fulfilling that three-fold mission. Sometimes their employees, as in any organization, need to be reminded of or re-trained as to their priorities. Other times as you mentioned, it comes down to perception. If the security officers are taking an authorized break, discussing a work issue or even talking on their cell phone with a supervisor, the public's perception may be that they are not focusing on RT priorities or maybe even "goofing off." RT and G4S have to be mindful of perception issues so that the proper behavior of our employees is not misinterpreted by the public.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  When are the tracks west of the Watt Avenue over-crossing going to be fixed so your head doesn't get rattled?

Reply:  As part of the construction of the new overpass the tracks were shifted slightly in a way that causes the train to shift from riding on one side of the rail to the other over a very short distance. This is responsible for the lateral movement of the rail vehicle. We've been trying to moderate the movement, but haven't found an inexpensive solution. We will continue work on this issue.

Sacramento, CA:  Who is responsible for cleaning and maintaining bus stops? There are several that I use regularly (stop 1098 at Arden & Blumenthal, stop 1389 at El Camino & Howe, for example) that are filthy. The benches are rusted, dirty and covered with graffiti, and the sidewalks under and near the benches frequently have trash strewn everywhere. Is it RT's responsibility or the city/county's responsibility to clean up these bus stops?"

Reply:  RT staff is responsible for our bus stops. There are just over 3,500 bus stops maintained by our 3 person crew. They have scheduled weekly cleaning of each stop. In the event you see a stop needing attention, please contact Customer Advocacy at 557-4545. I'll forward the stop numbers you indicated to our maintenance team.

Rio Linda, CA:  I watched a recent board meeting on cable access and saw that Route 19 was mentioned in a quarterly report regarding its poor on-time performance. I would like to make a suggestion, solely based on what I watched. I would suggest that Route 19 start at the Arden/Del Paso Light Rail Station and end at Big Sky Drive in North Highlands, along with Route 84. To replace the eliminated segment on Watt Avenue, I would ask, if financially viable, that Route 84 and Route 80, on their existing alignments, operate on 30 minute frequencies each. Would this in effect resolve the issues that Route 19 is faced with today? When could this suggestion be implented as new or changed service? January? June?

Reply:  RT's TransitRenewal plan calls for service along Elverta Road and Watt Avenue to be discontinued in September 2014. At the same time Routes 80 and 84 are planned for increased frequency to 30 minutes each.

Sacramento , CA:  In regards to Regional Transit on Twitter, is that coming by the time school starts for the '13-'14 academic year? I can't wait.

Reply:  Our Marketing and Communications team is working on putting policies in place before we begin to use Twitter. A handle has been reserved and we will begin tweeting when we are ready, which shouldn't be too far in the future, hopefully by the end of August.

Carmichael, CA:  Hopefully this will clear up some confusion.Based on prior Orion bus batches as well as prior chats, the 2300 series buses are supposed to last to 2017.However, I've heard reports from some operators that new buses could come sooner.Who's right, and which maker could replace defunct Orion in that role?

Reply:  RT is participating in a multi-agency bus procurement with other California Transit properties. We may take delivery of the 1st group of new buses before the end 2016. As you noted, Orion is no longer making transit buses. There are a number of other good bus manufacturers located in the United States. Our hope is to complete the contracting process within the next year.

Sacramento , CA:  My comments are in relation to Capitol Corridor connections with Light Rail. On Sunday's, I ride Train 744 (San Jose - Martinez - Sacramento) and have often missed the last Gold Line by two to three minutes heading towards Rancho Cordova. Will your agency be able to operate light rail on Sunday's as late as you do on Saturday? Many folks, I see have also missed this connection through no fault of their own. Amtrak operations has often "held" the train in San José due to late arriving buses from San Luis Obispo and in Martinez for late arriving Amtrak Buses coming from Eureka, Ukiah and Santa Rosa. Please have later Sunday hours for Sacramento Light Rail to accommodate vacationers returning home, among other reasons on the plate. Thank you.

Reply:  I have been in conversation with the Capitol Corridor staff and they are looking to adjust the train schedule to make better connections with our light rail system. Our TransitRenewal plan does include expanded Sunday hours. That improvement is scheduled for 2014/2015.

Rancho Cordova , CA:  Prior to taking a recent Capitol Corridor trip, I needed to contact their call center for questions. I learned the hard way that their call center is also the BART Call Center, and as a result of the on going BART Strike, they did not have Customer Service Representatives working to take calls. When this happends, would your agency's call center be able, without stepping onto another agencies shoes, to take calls for the Capitol Corridor service as well as your own RT Service Calls as well. Many of us that ride Capitol Corridor have become disgusted with BART not being able to take Capitol Corridor calls as a direct result of the on going BART Strike. This needs to change when situations like this arrise. We deserve better for such a long intercity rail Corridor serving many places throughout Northern California. By exclusively having the BART Call Center do this, and therefore putting all the eggs (calls) into one basket, as is the case here, does the rest of us no good. Please look into this situation. It will go a long way to help us that ride this rail corridor as well as bus and light rail in Sacramento too. Thank you so much.

Reply:  I will talk to the Capitol Corridor staff to explore other options. BART is the Managing Agency for the Capitol Corridor through a contract with the Capitol Corridor. BART is responsible for managing all of the activities for the Capitol Corridor. Providing back-up support service would likely require a contract amendment. Hopefully, the BART labor issue is resolved soon.

CA:  Do you have summer internships available for students?

Reply:  We are participating in a program through the City of Sacramento. As our budgets improve, I hope to bring back a broader program in the future. We do periodically have internships available during the course of the school year. Just check the employment section of our website.

Sacramento, CA:  Does RT Permit E-Cigarettes to be used on it's vehicles? A bus driver said they were unsure about their use.

Reply:  RT does not permit any Cigarettes on any RT vehicles. Effective 1 July, our new no smoking policy started. The policy prohibits smoking at light rail stations and bus stops with signs indicating "no smoking". The 1st light rail station signs begin installation in the next two weeks.

Fair Oaks, CA:  I just wanted to say that I love the mobile app for Android. It saves me so much time trying to open the full site and is so much easier than the tracking on the website. I use it daily! Thank you!

Reply:  Thanks for the positive comments. I use it myself and like you I love it. The application was developed by RT employees. Watch for continued improvements. We are working on version 2 to add more features.

Sacramento, CA:  Is there going to be any increase in service in the coming months?

Reply:  RT is considering minor service improvements for January 2014. Some of our considerations are additional weekday and Saturday evening bus service on existing routes.

Citrus Heights, CA:  I like your new television commercials showing viewers about the Blue Line and the Gold Line. Are there any plans to do similar television commercials for bus lines too, or is that not in the work plan?

Reply:  Thank you for the feedback on our "My Line" campaign, which is focused on building" choice ridership on light rail. Bus service accounts for about half of RT's ridership, and we do not want to ignore that side of our valuable service and definitely plan to promote it in the future.

Sacramento, CA:  My comments and/or questions are about the effects the BART Strike has had on Sacramento. The strike, which I have now heard on KFBK will be in a 30-Day cooling off period, has cost the Northern California Economy, according to news reports around $73M on a daily basis. What impact(s) has this had on Sacramento in particular? What can we do as riders to better prepare if sonething like that were to happen in Sacramento? When was the last time a transit strike has occurred directly in Sacramento? How long did it last? What commute alternatives would there be if such a labor/management dispute were to happen in Sacramento in the future?

Reply:  I don't know what impacts the BART strike has had on Sacramento. Other than inconvenience, probably very little economic impact at this point. When facing labor unrest, SRTD has the option of calling for Interest Arbitration under Section 13(c) of the Federal Transit Act, to settle labor disputes in lieu of the parties resorting to a strike or lockout. This option of Interest arbitration is prohibited by the legislation that created BART. Sacramento Regional Transit has interest arbitration with the ATU (bus operators union) and IBEW (maintenance employees union). Although interest arbitration can yield decisions that are a mixed bag, the process and decisions are effective tools in reducing the chances of a strike. In April 1976, ATU went on strike for 46 days. In April 1979, IBEW 1245 went on strike for a few days. Issues resolved fairly quickly. During the 1979 strike, area readers were advised to stay home unless travel was necessary. No alternative modes of public transit were available. Labor management disputes will likely be resolved peacefully through the Interest Arbitration process mentioned above. Four negotiations impasses have been settled by using this method since the strikes in the late 70's.

Sacramento, CA:  What are the rules regarding dogs on light rail?

Reply:  We allow passengers to ride with service animals. If a person is riding with their pet and it is not a service animal, it is not allowed.

Carmichael, CA:  While other rail cars have received digital headsigns, I've noticed that cars 207 and/or 210 have been stuck in the maintenance/storage yard for the longest time.Is it because of needed repairs? I know that 234 was the one involved in the 13th Street swiching mishap this spring.

Reply:  Any light rail vehicle that is in our storage for an extended period are waiting for the completion of critical repairs. One of the long lead delivery items on the CAF cars is the inverter which comes from Europe. It is possible that these cars are waiting for the installation of new inverters. We never keep cars out of service longer than necessary, as every car is important to our daily service.

Sacramento, CA:  In past years, you have designated October as "Try Transit Month." Will that not be the month this year in which the smart card finally launches? What different hours will customer service and photo ID be available to handle the large amount of Students, Seniors, and folks with disabilities to change their existing Photo ID's over to the Smart Cards?

Reply:  The launch of Smart Card is currently scheduled for January-February 2014. The pilot is planned for October. We have implementation plans for each of the groups receiving photo IDs. The launch includes public outreach about how and where to get cards as well as how to use the new Smart Cards (Connect Card). Expect to see the new Smart Card equipment on buses and at light rail stations starting this August.

Davis, CA:  Will RT's trip planner continue to work? Google Transit does not work on my old phone, and I can at least get some information from yours.

Reply:  Yes, our trip planner will continue. We continue to support Google Transit as well. As we improve our phone application, many of the trip planning features will be moved into the application.

Sacramento, CA:  I had a question on Connect Card outreach. Might RT be considering taking photographers out to Schools, Senior Centers, and employment centers of places that employ people with disabilities so that the process of new ID Cards could be done faster than, let's say, expanding customer service center days and hours?

Reply:  Great comment. We are outfitting a bus with all of the smart card devices and outreach materials. This bus will become our mobile transit center which will be used to help customers get ready for the new smart card. While on board the bus, customers will be able to receive and register their smart card. The bus should be on the road beginning this Fall.

Antelope, CA:  Any idea when light rail will be extended up to Antelope & Roseville?

Reply:  RT's long range plan, TransitAction, includes light rail extension up to Antelope and Roseville. Additional resources are required in order to facilitate this expansion. Local and federal financial assistance would be required. A successful local tax referendum to support transit expansion would facilitate earlier consideration of the Blue Line to Antelope and Roseville.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager will be held on Friday, August 2, 2013. Have a nice weekend.