Transit Talk with the General Manager

March 07, 2014
Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Transit Talk will be live Friday, March 7 from noon to 1 p.m. and the system will accept questions now through the end of the chat.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

I would like to personally invite all of today's Transit Talk participants to support RT at the 6th annual State of RT Breakfast and TransitAction Awards on Friday, April 4, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento.

The Sacramento Metro Chamber and RT will host the event, which provides an annual forum to discuss the Sacramento region's transit priorities, and recognize individuals, businesses and organizations that have made a significant and positive impact on public transit in the region.

I'm pleased to announce this year's TransitAction Awards recipients:
  • Business of the Year: Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region
  • Organization/Agency of the Year: Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails
  • Transit Oriented Development of the Year: Township 9
  • Elected Official of the Year: Pat Hume, Councilmember, City of Elk Grove
  • Individual/Transit Advocate of the Year: Kevin Welch
Congratulations to this year's recipients!

I will also deliver the 2014 State of RT address, which will outline RT's accomplishments and goals, and highlight the opportunities for transit today.

If you would like more information or are interested in purchasing a ticket to the event, visit

CA:  I still see people smoking at light rail stations where RT recently posted “No Smoking” signage. Is RT going to do more educate and enforce this?

Reply:  We have been informing our customers of the new policy. Our Security staff is currently following a procedure of politely asking our smoking customers to stop or move outside the station area if they insist on smoking. For those who continue to smoke our police officers will issue a citation. I expect that enforcement approach will escalate in the next few months. I asked a number of our security personnel this same question earlier this week and received the same response. I was pleased to hear that they are following our instructions.

Sacramento, CA:  What is the status of the VTA refurbishment and Siemens wrapping project?

Reply:  The refurbishment of the VTA cars is proceeding. I expect the first car to be ready for testing in approximately 30 days. If all proceeds well we should be operating the first set of the refurbished cars by the end of Summer 2014.

Sacramento, CA:  What is the future of the pay-for-parking program? Will that be extended to any of the other existing stations, and to the new park-and-ride lots as well?

Reply:  The RT Board previously took action to extend the program to new stations being developed as part of the Blue Line to CRC. However, no decision has been made in regards to implementation at additional existing stations. The RT board has approved paid parking for the new Blue Line stations at Franklin, and Consumnes.

South Sacramento, CA:  Two questions. One on maitenance on weekends? How often do you clean light rail stations (i.e. pick up trash) and inside light rail cars? The second involves more express buses? Are there planning to be even more commutes in the future?

Reply:  We clean Light Rail stations every day. The cleaners are expected to empty trash cans, and pick up trash on the platforms every day. As we continue to receive additional revenues we are constantly evaluating the need for new service. The next major change will occur with the opening of the Blue Line to CRC in September 2015.

Sacramento, CA:  I watched your last Board of Directors Meeting on Cable Access Channel 14, and am very concerned about the budget situation based on what I heard in the discussion. Will you be able to move ahead with any service improvements in any way, shape, or form by or before Sunday 4 January 2015? In seeing how service changes occur at RT, I have become aware by observing that your board can adopt major changes, or staff can come together on consensus on minor changes. Do you, at the very least, have any minor changes in the pipeline that you can implement by Sunday 4 January 2015? Even minor changes can do wonders to make major and positive impacts both to the economy and people's personal lives as well. Thank you for taking notice of my comment/question.

Reply:  Thank you for your question. Any service improvements are tied to the availability of additional revenue. At this point Fiscal Year 2015 is projected to be very tight, with the possibility of only minor adjustments that are revenue neutral We are currently evaluating service. However, at this point I have nothing to share.

Citrus Heights, CA:  I ride Route 21 and over heard a conversation that the trips that turn around at Sunrise Mall and head back to Rancho Cordova will in fact be extended so that all existing trips turn around at Louis/Orlando. When is this supposed to take place? I connect at Louis/Orlando to two other transit systems, and knowing from my fellow riders that all trips will eventually serve Louis/Orlando is great news. On a related matter, will earlier trips on Weekends/Holidays do this too, based on the existing trips that currently turn around at Sunrise Mall?

Reply:  We have been looking at extending some of the weekend trips that turn around at Sunrise Mall so that they go the rest of the way to Louis & Orlando. This is in our official plans and we're trying to work it into our budget in the near future. However, in order to extend these trips will require reallocating service from other unproductive service.

Sacramento, CA:  I am a pre-paid pass/ticket holder. I have heard about the Connect Card from some people explaining to me that implementation of the Connect Card will essentially "wipe out" the need for pre-paid tickets. If that is the case, will you be able to implement an exchange program so that up until Wednesday 31 December 2014, folks like myself would be able to visit your Customer Service Center and have the face value of each ticket placed electronically onto the new cards? If this is something you think you can pull off, then the date I will likely be in your CSC to do this will be Friday 28 November 2014, which is the day after Thanksgiving, provided that your offices are going to be open and doing business on that date. Thank you.

Reply:  The Connect Card will allow RT to discontinue the option of prepaid paper tickets. With the implementation of Connect Card, a rider will have the ability to preload a card with either a pass or cash value. By moving to this new process, RT will have in place a conversion program similar to the prior ticket exchanges. As you know the prepaid tickets expire on September 30, 2014. Historically RT has done exchanges one month prior and two month following the expiration date. Currently, the plan is to allow riders to convert their tickets for equal cash value on the Connect Card soon after the implementation of the Connect Card. The conversion period is expected to be completed by November 30, 2014.

South Sacramento, CA:  Are you planning to do any route improvements particulary Route 5? I would love to see the route extend to Cosumnes River College.

Reply:  We don't have any changes planned for Route 5. We had some changes on this route based on some customer requests about five years ago which were recently changed back in 2012 because they hadn't worked well. Ridership has been picking up since we changed it back, but ridership on this route is not great enough for us to consider an expansion at this time. It is likely that we will see a need for adjustments following the implementation of the Blue Line to CRC in September 2015.

Elk Grove, CA:  In the State of the State by Gov Brown, he mentioned that some of the additional revenue from both state coffers and the Cap and Trade program would be funneled into transit projects beyond HSR. Do you know if RT will receive any of that revenue?

Reply:  the Governor has not provided any specifics regarding how additional transit revenues, if any, will be allocated. At the same time there is a proposal in the State Senate to implement a new Carbon Tax, with some revenues flowing to transit systems. All of these concepts are still in the early development stage.

South Sacramento, CA:  Now that the Entertainment Sports Complex (ESC) is going to be built, are you planning to look at any changes regarding bus and light rail service?

Reply:  We have been making plans and preparations for the proposed ESC for over eight months now. One of the best things about the proposed location is that it is very close to our existing infrastructure on 7th Street, K Street, etc. This will be great for us from a ridership standpoint. NBA attendees should be heading home from games around 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. This is later than we run on Sundays, but there are actually very few Sunday night games, and we would probably run special trains for cases like that. We are still working with the City and the project applicants on how to support our service, because there will be significant costs for the additional service and crowd control, but we do expect that there will be great demand for light rail service, and we have the capabilities to meet it.

North Natomas, CA:  Good Afternoon. My question is regarding the launch of the Connect Transit Card. In attending some meetings about this new brand of technology, I understand that your photo ID Center will need to undergo a major change in technology and equipment to produce new photo ID's. When do you anticipate that 1225 R Street Location to go from producing today's photo ID Card to producing Connect Card Photo Cards for DHA, Students, Seniors, and individuals with disabilities?

Reply:  Once a successful public pilot test of the Connect Card system is complete, RT will begin an education and outreach campaign for the implementation of the Connect Card. This includes the transition to new photo IDs. More information will be available once the pilot period is complete, which is scheduled to be complete by the end of April.

Sacramento, CA:  I regularly us route 72 on weekends and there seems to be an issue with it connecting to light rail. I always arrive Mather/Mills with less than a minute to get to the Sunrise bound train. This is an issue since light rail trains only run every half hour and often arrive ahead of schedule by one to two minutes. Can there be some improvement to this regular situation?

Reply:  Route 72 buses are scheduled to arrive two minutes before the outbound trains to Sunrise. This is a little tight, but we always have problems with this route, because the connections at the other end and with the trains going in the other direction are all very tight. We will take a look at the schedule adherence and see if this can be improved without making anything else worse. Thank you for the suggestion!

Elk Grove, CA:  Has RT broken ground on the next phase of Green Line? If not, when is ground breaking scheduled to begin? What is the schedule for completion overall?

Reply:  RT's is working to advance the previous Green Line to the Airport Administrative Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report to an official draft. We are also working to complete preliminary engineering on a number of aspects of the expansion. However, as of now, we do not have a date to break ground or a date for completion of the project. One of the major challenges is identifying additional funding sources for the extension. The team will look to designate a Natomas segment of the Green Line as a federal New Starts project candidate, which would open up the possibility for federal funding on this segment of the project. Proposition 1A state funding will also be pursued with the intent for the Green Line to the Airport to make a future connection with high speed rail. We will keep you posted.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

The next session of Transit Talk is scheduled for Friday, April 4, 2014. Thank you for your questions and interaction today.