Transit Talk with the General Manager

August 02, 2013
Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Transit Talk with the General Manager will be live on Friday, August 2, 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: 

I'm excited to announce that RT will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the Blue Line to Cosumnes River College (CRC) light rail extension on Tuesday, August 13 at 10 a.m.

The event will be held at the future site of the Franklin Station located west of the intersection of Franklin Boulevard and Cosumnes River Boulevard.

The groundbreaking marks the beginning of an expected two-year construction process of the light rail extension, including work on the civil, track, structures, systems and stations. The recently opened Blue Line Light Rail/Cosumnes River College parking structure and two nearly-complete light rail bridges at Morrison Creek and Cosumnes River Boulevard make up the other portions of extension construction.

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.

The Federal Transit Administration signed a Full Funding Grant Agreement in January 2013 to fund 50 percent of the $270 million project.

For more information about the groundbreaking event, contact Jo Noble, RT Senior Community and Government Affairs Officer, at 916-556-0118 or

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

Sacramento, CA:  I live at the Heritage Park Apartments at 3910 Auburn Blvd and cannot safely get to the nearest bus stop to head toward Watt Avenue. There is no stop sign or light, and no crosswalk marked out. The nearest bus stop is at Beresford Way, on the other side of Auburn Blvd from me. On other trips where I'm returned to the Beresford stop, there's no safe way for me to cross the road to return home. There are multiple bus stops on Auburn Blvd which lack a cross walk, and it makes no sense to drop people off on the side of the road where they MUST cross a very busy highway. One guy was killed recently when crossing the street near to my apartment complex. I'm not in the best of health and cannot cross quickly enough to be safe. The speed limit is 40mph on Auburn Blvd, with 2 lanes each direction and a center lane for turning. Crossing 5 lanes is not safe, especially for handicapped, disabled, and seniors. What can RT do to fix this problem?

Reply:  RT does not have the money to pay for sidewalks, crosswalks, etc. and we rely on local jurisdictions, in this case, Sacramento County, to pay for and build pedestrian improvement such as these. I would recommend you forward your comment to the County. However, I will have our Planning Department bring this issue to their attention as well.

Sacramento, CA:  What exactly is the problem with the Bus Transit System? The drivers appear to using their own personal schedule and time table; Especially on Routes 86 & 19. The #19 bus can often run 10 to 20 minutes behind schedule. This makes getting to appointments on time extremely difficult. Why are these routes always running late?

Reply:  We have had a lot of schedule adherence problems with Route 19 regardless of who's driving the route. This is unfortunately one of our routes where we simply need an additional bus, which costs money. I will forward your comment to our Scheduling department, however, to see if any adjustments can be made to at least make the timetable more accurate.

Rancho Cordova , CA:  Last month I chimed in on the chat regarding Capitol Corridor and Regional Transit. It has come to my attention that another BART Strike is looming for Monday, and that this one is going to be a doozy. When that happens, the Capitol Corridor Call Center also shuts down because it is also the BART Call Center. Will Regional Transit step in during the looming BART Strike, and take information calls/requests for the Capitol Corridor, at least until the BART Strike is over?

Reply:  RT will not be taking calls on behalf of Capitol Corridor at any time. We are separate agencies and the infrastructure and contracts are not in place for something like this to occur. I suggest you contact the Capitol Corridor today to request assistance.

Sacramento, CA:  Regarding monthly passes and the lines at customer service at the beginning of each month, has RT considered a countdown-based system like Valley Metro here in Phoenix does, instead of with the calendar-based system?

Reply:  RT is developing a Smart Card system that will hopefully alleviate the need for many people to visit the Customer Service and Sales Center at 1225 R Street to renew their passes each month. The Smart Card will act as a riders ticket or pass and allow people to renew each month online or add money to the card at any time to buy single-ride fare.

Carmichael, CA:  I knoe that RT took over the old Arden Lumberjack shortly after it went under for retired bus storage, but do they still own the facility? I'm seeing apparatus there more connected to road maintenance when riding through it on the Blue Line...

Reply:  Yes, RT still owns the facility. RT does lease the front portion by Arden Way to CC Myers Construction to store their equipment. As the economy improves we hope to have a Transit Oriented Development on this site. This would include a mix of higher density residential and retail/commercial development.

Sacramento , CA:  I saw on your website that there will be a construction groundbreaking Ceremony for the Blue Line to CRC this month. When do you anticipate, on the other hand to have the Grand Opening for the Watt/US-50 project, which I have been told will be of huge benefit to bus service becoming Bus Rapid Transit Service?

Reply:  Construction on this phase may be complete by early 2014. However, prior to RT implementing a change to bus routes #80 and #84 we will need to fully test the new system for reliability.

Sacramento, CA:  I was at a stoplight at 7th and Richards and noticed a transient spitting on several design features at the east end of the (7th & Richards) green line light rail station. Is there any chance the whole station could be hosed down?

Reply:  RT power washes all light rail stations on a rotating basis. The Township 9 Station is scheduled for cleaning next week.

Sacramento , CA:  I get asked quite a bit at my workplace from co-workers about TransitRenewal Phase II. What is the latest status on this? When can riders see the next step of service improvements to go into effect?

Reply:  Thanks for your interest in TransitRenewal. RT plans to bring on more service as soon as it is financially possible to do so. This means that on-going, sustainable revenue must be identified before staff can recommend service changes to the Board. RT's financial forecasting model projects service improvements using TransitRenewal as the plan for those improvements over the next several years, assuming funding sources continue to rise as expected. RT was able to bring back 8.3% of the 21% of service cut in 2010 in 2013, well ahead of the financial forecasting projections. You will see some minor route changes and service adjustments remaining from TransitRenewal Phase I, starting on January 1, 2014, however, Phase II as listed on the website is still awaiting funding.

Sacramento, CA:  What is the reason why students who purchase a bi monthly pass from the 1-15 AND 16-30 for the previous month are not afforded a grace day for the new month?

Reply:  We provide a grace day at the beginning of the month because we recognize it is sometimes difficult to find time to purchase a pass. However, the 16-30 semi-monthly passes go on sale at the same time as the 1-15 semi-monthly passes, so there should be sufficient time for customers to purchase their passes.

Vancouver, WA:  I am currently visiting Vancouver, Washington and see that Portland has an Ariel tram that serves as a commuter service within Portland. Has Regional Transit given thought to Ariel tramways as an alternative to light rail? Seems cheaper.

Reply:  We have evaluated elevated service in the past. However, any elevated system is significantly more costly than the light rail system we have built and operate here in Sacramento. We have also evaluated some level of underground service and that is the most expensive option. An aerial tram is usually utilized for a point to point service and provides a very limited capacity compared to a four car light rail train (30 to 40 passengers compared to 600 passengers)

South Sacramento, CA:  I've saw that you are only going to make a minor change for September 2013. Are you waiting for the major changes come for January 2013? If so, will it affect both Routes 54 and 55? And are you planning to restore Route 8 earlier than anticipated?

Reply:  This question relates to an answer I provided earlier in the chat regarding TransitRenewal. As revenue becomes available, RT will implement service changes listed in the plan. I have placed the answer regarding TransitRenewal Phase II here:

"RT plans to bring on more service as soon as it is financially possible to do so. This means that on-going, sustainable revenue must be identified before staff can recommend service changes to the Board. RT's financial forecasting model projects service improvements using TransitRenewal as the plan for those improvements over the next several years, assuming funding sources continue to rise as expected. RT was able to bring back 8.3% of the 21% of service cut in 2010 in 2013, well ahead of the financial forecasting projections. You will see some minor route changes and service adjustments remaining from TransitRenewal Phase I, starting on January 1, 2014, however, Phase II as listed on the website is still awaiting funding."

CA:  There is no bus route for students to get to Florin High school , Why? They have to walk a long way in a unsafe area then pay to catch the only bus that travels less than a mile to school, there has been huge problems for them how can we fix this?

Reply:  Route 5 - Meadowview/Valley Hi provides hourly service to Florin High School from the Meadowview light rail station via Mack Road, Franklin Blvd., Valley Hi Drive, and Elsie Ave. Connecting routes include Routes 47, 54, 55, 56, and 65.

Sacramento, CA:  I ride the last Blue Line from Meadowview to 16th 4 nights a week and have noticed recently that the yellow guards seem to have vanished. Will they be coiming back?

Reply:  I assure you the guards have not disappeared completely. RT recently implemented a new strategy for our security team, which has guards rotating between trains and train cars more often and also consistently working in teams. This may cause you to not see them during the same periods which you did previously. I will forward your comment on to our Police Services department who oversees the guards just in case there is an issue.

Sacramento, CA:  Are we ever going to get new light rails? The current ones stink from the inside and make too much noise and look bad on the outside too.

Reply:  Our current budget includes funding to update the exterior of our oldest light rail cars, the Siemens cars placed into service in 1987 and 1992. We will also be implementing a program to change out all of the seat cushions over time. Those cars are nearing the end of their useful life and should be replaced in the next five to ten years.

Sacramento, CA:  Speaking of the lumberjack area, what happened to those old buses? The Flxible and the GM bus?

Reply:  As we dispose of our equipment it is first put out to bid and is sold to the highest bidder. If we receive no bids the equipment is then sold for scrap.

Sacramento, CA:  In reading some of today's questions, I have a follow-up question on the subject matter of the Smart Card. What upcoming month can you estimate, if any right now, will be the last month riders will need to buy stickers for their existing Photo ID's? In turn, what then will likely be the first month that Students, Seniors, and passengers with disabilities will be able to ride on a Photo ID based Smart Card?

Reply:  RT plans to begin a pilot phase of the Smart Card later this year. If all goes as expected, the regional partner agencies will begin to phase into the program starting early next year. A coordinated effort is still in the planning stages to get Smart Cards to pass holders with photo ID's. A reasonable estimate of when students, seniors, and passengers with disabilities will be able to ride the RT system on a Photo ID based Smart Card would be mid 2014.

Folsom, CA:  Any plans for light rail to Folsom lake or El Dorado Hills? Maybe just a rt bus to folsom lake would be nice.

Reply:  Bus service in Folsom is provided by the City of Folsom. We operate light rail in Folsom as part of an agreement with the City. I don't know that there would be sufficient demand to justify a bus to Folsom Lake given that we are still working to restore a lot of our core routes. The city of Folsom, El Dorado County, and RT have done some preliminary work on the feasibility and alternative routes for light rail and Bus Rapid Transit to El Dorado Hills.

Sacramento, CA:  In previous "Transit Talk" with the General Manager Sessions, you have indicated that there will be Service Changes on January 5, 2014. Will a list of the changes be available for reading on your website by the last day of next month? Thank you.

Reply:  Any changes to be implemented in January 2014 will be posted on our website around the first of December, 2013.

Sacramento, CA:  How is the UTDC refurbishment project progressing?

Reply:  The project is on schedule and within budget. The first cars should be completed in the Spring of 2014.

Sacramento, CA:  Can the Green Line be extended to 29th St, or even farther east on the Gold Line during peak hours to at least make the line more usable? Current schedule has the Green Line leaving ahead of the Blue and Gold forcing passengers a longer transfer time, especially at night when trains run at half hour intervals.

Reply:  You have a very interesting idea. As we see increased demand for service between 29th street or University/65th street and downtown this becomes a very viable option. However, any service enhancement will require increased funding and will need to be considered along with other service priorities.

Natomas, CA:  I work in Natomas and ride the 6:23am trip on Route 13 from the Arden/Del Paso Light Rail Station. Today, as a matter of fact, the operator was a "miss out" of all things. Several of us then had to wait, apparently for a "tripper" leaving at 7:08am, instead. What happened this morning, and how can we be notified well in advance so that we can take alternative routes to get to work in the Morning? My alternative routing would be the 6:18am Route 88 and then the first Northbound Route 11 to get to Truxel Road at Gateway Park Boulevard.

Reply:  RT's mobile app at provides service alerts for bus trip cancellations when RT is unable to staff a trip due to manpower or other reasons. The trip cancellations can also be found online at under the "Rider Alert" link. These are currently the best ways to find out about the unplanned cancellations. With the interruptions being unplanned, we are unable to alert people well in advance as we often learn about the staffing problem very late in the process. We are looking into programming the mobile app to allow users to sign up for alerts when a trip on their chosen route is cancelled but that is not currently in development.

South Sacramento, CA:  What, if any, service changes to bus service will occur once the Blue Line Extension to CRC is up and running?

Reply:  We have been doing some work and don't anticipate any major changes to bus service in response to the Blue Line to CRC extension project. We do expect that passenger loads on Route 56 will decrease, which will be nice for riders on that line, which currently has very heavy loads. Of course, schedules will be adjusted on the Blue Line and potentially the Gold and Green Lines as well, with corresponding changes to bus schedules, so RT will have an extensive customer care program to assist riders and get the word out. It is likely that e-tran will be considering some service modifications as well.

Sacramento, CA:  I understand at this point funding dictates what can be changed. However if we can't increase frequency, can we at least revert back to a more reliable timed transfer/pulse between at major transfer points. Sure having a 28 minute time between transfers does make it reliable but it can effectively double/triple ones commute. There are too many bus routes that has a scheduled departure just before a train's arrival. Passengers have to rely on begging a train driver/train guard to ask the rail controller to ask a bus controller to ask the bus driver to intentionally hold their schedule thereby delaying those that are already on the bus and those waiting down the line.A good chunk of transit ridership depends on transfers and a successful system depends on a reliable network. At this point RT operates a group of independent routes with transfer connection as an afterthought especially during off peak.

Reply:  The last ten years have had several light rail extensions as well as three major service cuts. I think it's fair to say that the connection timing in at least some locations has deteriorated. Timing a number of connecting routes to work together, without impacting established connections at other points on the line is a long, tedious job, but we are working hard to gradually improve the schedules.

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

Reply:  GPS technology needs to be installed in the light rail trains before real-time information will be available. The funding for this improvement has been secured and updating our rail cars should be complete by the end of the fiscal year.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  When will the cloth seats be replaced with something cleaner? The seats are stained and dirty, and have been that way for years.

Reply:  Most likely by the end of the fiscal year.

Sacramento, CA:  Your website indicates that there will be a trip added on Route 68. However, it states times departing at 7:14am and arriving at 7:36pm. There must be something that I missed while reading about this. Can you look at this and see if any corrections are needed?

Reply:  The p.m. after 7:36 is incorrect. It should read 7:36 a.m. Thank you for noticing this. We will have it changed.

Sacramento, CA:  Can we reshuffle the existing schedule to make better transfer connections? This is more pronounced at nights and weekends where a rider has to leave half an hour early on the first leg, wait almost half an hour for the second leg of the trip. Even the weeknight connection between trains are like this. Very inconvenient at the least who has plenty of time to kill, making the service not feasable for those that are can't afford to leave work/school/whatever early.

Reply:  Our Scheduling Department is working on the evening connections, including the Blue/Gold connection at 16th Street.

Sacramento, CA:  Are any of your staff familiar with Jarret Walker from Human Transit Blog. He seems to have a lot of good ideas of what makes a good system work.

Reply:  Sorry, I am not familar with him. However, some of my staff are familar with him.

sacramento, CA:  when fiscal year end for RT?

Reply:  RT's Fiscal Year ends on June 30 each year.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager will be held on Friday, September 6, 2013. Have a nice weekend.