Transit Talk with the General Manager

April 04, 2014
Alane Masui, Assistant GM of Marketing & Communications
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Transit Talk will be live Friday, April 4 from noon to 1 p.m. The system is accepting questions now through the end of the chat.

Comments from Alane Masui: 

Good afternoon! It's good to be here as the guest host for today's session of Transit Talk. In my role as Assistant General Manager of Marketing and Communications, I oversee the community outreach, customer service, government affairs, marketing and media activities for RT. My career in transit began 23 years ago and my goal has always been to enhance the customer experience and improve transit services in our communities. This morning, the Sacramento Metro Chamber and RT hosted the 6th annual State of RT Breakfast and TransitAction Awards at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento. Thank you to everyone who attended and showed their support for public transit. The annual TransitAction Awards were presented at the event to recognize models of excellence that have made a significant and positive impact on public transit in the Sacramento region. I would like to recognize 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

Carmichael, CA:  How much does the District spend on TV, radio and print advertising each year and how are the effectiveness of those ads on ridership measured. Thanks.

Reply:  For the current ridership campaign, which includes TV, radio, online, electronic billboards and print, RT budgeted $99,000 for the media purchase. RT measures effectiveness through ridership, website activity, and number of impressions.

Sacramento, CA:  I proudly hold a $2 Bus and Light Rail Timetable Book, produced by Regional Transit. The edition I have is approaching two years old. Will Regional Transit be going through an update later this year (September) or will the update wait yet another year due to the Blue Line to Cosumnes River College Project? I believe that this document is in need of update sooner rather than later, but at the same time, I understand that it comes down to funding, and perhaps waiting until next September may or may not make sense, solely from a funding perspective, if anything else.

Reply:  Our plan is to print a new bus and light rail timetable book prior to the launch of the Connect Card electronic fare payment system in summer 2014. In the meantime, you can obtain updates to the busbook online at

Citrus Heights, CA:  Recently, I have been having meetings with my management team at my workplace regarding the upcoming "Fix 50" Project, and read to them from my smartphone device via your April "NextStop" News that RT will be adding supplemental bus and light rail service during the duration of this project (April 22 - June 25). Will folks be able to visit your Customer Service and Sales Offices to pick up pocket or other printed materials that will be specific to the service I am referring to here? Secondly, will the timetables be available for online viewing by the close of business (two weeks from now) on April 18th?

Reply:  RT is working with Caltrans to finalize a plan to provide supplemental bus and light rail service to lessen the impact of Fix 50. The plan would include adding buses to address capacity and additional light rail trips during the peak commute hours. Buses will be added throughout the system where and when needed so there would not be a published timetable. In addition, we expect to operate four-car trains beyond the peak commute period as needed. We will post additional information regarding specific light rail trips on our website next week.

Sacramento, CA:  It's been two months since RT has announced no smoking at all stations. I have yet to see any notices beyond the few stations that were originally introduced, and with that it being enforced at other stations and stops by security or drivers. Will there be more enforcement in the near future?

Reply:  The RT Board approved the new policy and we are adding signs indicating the change. The policy goes into effect when the signs are installed. The station security contractors (G4S) are reminding customers of the change. Our police officers are beginning to enforce the new policy in addition to the G4S staff. Please take advantage of the text tip line to report violations.

Sacramento, CA:  I am a rider with a disability who was informed not too long ago that Regional Transit and others will soon be getting rid of the monthly adhesive stickers, in favor of a new electronic smart card, like they have in play today in the San Francisco Bay Area. What month do you predict will be the last month that stickers will be sold, and what will the first month be that our pass payment will be stored electronically on these new smart cards?

Reply:  Our plan is to go live with the Connect Card this summer. There will be an outreach campaign to share the details when the date is selected. The transition will take place over a number of months to make it easy for customers to move to the new smart card system.

Sacramento, CA:  Where on your website can I access information about April 2014 Service Improvement and/or April 2014 Service Changes? Whether or not there are any and/or none, will Regional Transit be making any June 2014 Service Improvements and/or June 2014 Service Changes?

Reply:  There are no April 2014 service changes scheduled. There may be slight schedule adjustments on Route 28 in June.

North Natomas, CA:  I am a Sacramento Kings Season Ticket Holder, and have been for many of the most recent lean years for the team. I also attend many Sleep Train Arena Events that are Bigger Than Basketball throughout the year. I have not needed to use transit as I am within walking distance from where I currently live. When the new Entertainment Sports Complex opens in the Fall of 2016, I will need to use transit, and specifically, Route 11 on Truxel Road, near my home. What will Regional Transit be doing as far as improving service on this route that currently links the Sleep Tran Arena with the site of the new Downtown facility? My hope is that you will be considering this as a priority route for expanding service hours and adding Sunday Service in or around July of 2016. Thank you.

Reply:  We are expecting that Kings games and other events at the new Entertainment and Sports Complex (ESC) will generate many new riders. We are working with the ESC developers on a transportation plan that will best serve attendees from throughout the region. I will forward your message to RT's planning staff.

Sacramento, CA:  When will you enforce the No Smoking Policy at Light Rail Stations. I still see people smoking at stations, sometimes right next to the no smoking signs.

Reply:  As we install the new No Smoking signs at stations, RT security guards and police officers are being asked to enforce the new policy. When you see people smoking at stations where the new signs are posted, please report it via the Text Tip Line (67283 beginning the message with sacrt).

South Sacramento, CA:  Will there be any more clean up/maintenance of light rail stations and trains on weekdays, and especially on weekends?

Reply:  We've added a little more internal staffing and contracted for some additional support to keep the stations clean. Our goal is to continue improving the cleaning schedule. We plan to add more staff and contract support for cleaning stations and stops, but this is likely to continue incrementally based on our funding.

Sacramento, CA:  I have a technical question regarding your website. Whether it was from my mobile device or from my desktop, I was unable to access the normal PDF of the April "NextStop" News. I was able to access the text only version, for now. When will the PDF version be available for online viewing? Thank you for looking into this.

Reply:  Our webmaster checked the link and found that the file size was excessively large. It has since been compressed and reposted. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

Sacramento, CA:  How will RT be involved in financing the Streetcar? Is that an RT project?

Reply:  The Streetcar project is a regional partnership that includes the City of Sacramento, City of West Sacramento, RT and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. The project is proposed to be funded with 50 percent federal Small Starts funding and 50 percent local funding, which would include funding contributions from each of the cities and RT. It is expected that RT will operate and maintain the 3.3-mile extension once it is completed and in operation.

West Sacramento, CA:  I attended an open house at Raley Field the other day for what is coming up for the upcoming River Cats Season. One person brought to my attention that Regional Transit will be once again offering Ballpark Shuttle Service for all Raley Field Events during the "Fix 50" Project. I was under the impression that Regional Transit would not be offering this type of service due to budgetary cuts made at the beginning of the decade that addressed an agency "fiscal crisis" at the height of the great recession. Has the economy turned around that much that the Raley Field Shuttle is going to return, at least during the "Fix 50" Project? Please tell me something I may not know.

Reply:  The River Cats are interested in shuttle service due to the congestion expected from the Fix 50 project. RT has submitted cost estimates to Caltrans for the operation of shuttle service on weekdays during the Fix 50 project. RT is requesting reimbursement from Caltrans.

Folsom, CA:  When will light rail run after 7:00 at night in Folsom? Is it possible to run trains more frequently into Folsom? If you miss it you have to wait a half hour for the next one.

Reply:  Our agreement with the City of Folsom specifies the service level. We hope at some point to operate the service until 11 p.m., but that will require the additional funding to cover the cost of extended evening service. As to your second question, we have some limitations on frequency of service because of the single-track sections. We are working on addressing system constraints and hope to be able to improve frequency if the funding for service is provided.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  I was wondering when the weekend Blue Line and the Gold Line will once again be at 15-Minute schedule frequencies during most daylight hours?

Reply:  This is identified in our 2012 TransitRenewal comprehensive operational analysis for restoration as part of Phase 5.

south sacramento, CA:  When will the Route 8 be restored?

Reply:  Creation of a "new" Route 8 was identified in our TransitRenewal comprehensive operational analysis as a priority improvement. Subsequent to completion of TransitRenewal in 2012, we have moved Route 8 up on the priority list based on suggestions by RT staff as well as extensive interest from the community. This is an expensive restoration and we do not currently have the funding in our budget to make this improvement. Our intention is to bring it back in the next round of service improvements if we can identify funding.

South Sacramento, CA:  Are you planning any service changes later in the year regarding bus or light rail service?

Reply:  We have a very tight budget picture for the coming year, but we may make some minor adjustments in September.

North Highlands, CA:  I heard from a driver that because of the union's power you can't discipline anyone based on bad things you see drivers doing on the video cameras i see in the buses. Is this really true? Because I see drivers eating while driving and leaving garbage on the dash, using cell phones, being rude and nasty to passengers, sleeping in their seats on breaks, and lots of other stuff. If this is true that you can't use video to get them in trouble for being horrible drivers, it's no wonder the public hates public agencies with unions. If you want the public to trust RT, then make customer service your priority number one! That means be very aggressive about bad drivers, clean your stations, fix your lights, be on-time!

Reply:  We have a positive discipline process with our operators (drivers). The process allows RT, in partnership with our labor representatives, to encourage appropriate behavior. If you have a problem or see inappropriate behavior, contact our Customer Advocacy department at 916-557-4545. They can start the process with you. Both management and our labor leaders have a shared goal of providing an excellent experience for our riders. If you see bad behavior, please report it; but remember to report excellent service when you see it as well. I believe most of our employees are trying to provide good service.

Sacramento, CA:  Just went to the State of RT Breakfast. Very impressive. Where is the money coming from to buy all the buses and rail cars they said would be needed in the near future?

Reply:  The capital funding for bus and rail replacements comes from federal, state and local funding sources. RT has many fleet replacement needs over the next 10-year time frame and beyond. RT anticipates receiving a large portion of the funding from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) future call for projects that include federal and state funding for transit agencies in the region. The remainder of the needed funding will be challenging to obtain, and we expect it could come from some of the following sources: 1.) Potential federal earmarks, 2.) Future state-dedicated capital funding for transit agencies, 3.) Future Measure A Renewal local funding for capital projects. RT will continue to pursue all potential funding sources to meet our capital needs in the future.

Folsom, CA:  What is the likely hood of Regional Transit incrementally increasing Gold Line evening service hours into Folsom? With the Downtown Sacramento Entertainment Sports Complex coming in the Fall of 2016, it would seem to make sense that over the course of the next three Julys that Regional Transit and the City of Folsom develop their fiscal budgets to allow for added service in three annual steps so that by July of 2016, Folsom will be on par with service hours like the rest of the light rail destinations have today. It does not seem fair to us riders in Folsom that all of the Rancho Cordova Stations have service well to 11pm or midnight, when our service is cut off from the rest of the system at 7pm or 7:30pm. It is 6:23pm for folks traveling from Sacramento Valley Station to Folsom, but 10:53pm for folks going only as far as Eastern Rancho Cordova. Do you agree that something doesn't seem right here? We hope you are on the same page with us, here in Folsom, and that we can work together in developing incremental service increases in three steps over the next 36 months so that we are on service par with everyone else. Thank you.

Reply:  The light rail service that RT provides is operated under a cost-sharing agreement. We are essentially a client of the City of Folsom, so requests for more service would probably be better directed to the City. We have the capability to operate later evening service to Folsom, but it has to be mutually agreed to by both RT and the City of Folsom with regard to cost.

Arden/Arcade, CA:  I have been watching closely the Highway 50 work going on that will be improving the interchange and ramps at Watt Avenue. Someone told me that once finished, it will allow Regional Transit to use dedicated transit lanes over the interchange and improve service as well as provide faster trip times by traveling over Highway 50 at Watt Avenue, rather than going around it via Folsom Boulevard and La Riviera Drive. Would you happen to know if this project is on schedule so as to allow the Route 80 and Route 84 service improvements this September, or will the service improvements have to wait nine to twelve months either due to project schedule or due to funding of the service improvement(s)?

Reply:  This improvement will allow exclusive use of the center lane of Watt Avenue with a transit bus. This is part of a long-term plan for Watt Avenue. Before we can begin passenger operations on this segment, we will be testing the use of the special lane, and developing operator training for use of the special lane and control devices.

Sacramento, CA:  How can RT spend so much on an event like the big breakfast that you had this morning when the stations are in such need of repair?

Reply:  The State of RT Breakfast is hosted by the Sacramento Metro Chamber and paid for by sponsors and attendees of the event. RT supports the event with programming, promotion and marketing.

Sacramento, CA:  Will RT run extra service while the freeway is being fixed next month? How much? Who will pay for that?

Reply:  RT is working with Caltrans to fund supplemental bus and light rail service during Fix 50. Information regarding additional service will be posted on RT's website next week.

Folsom, CA:  Are you adding service to the Gold Line during this Fix50 project coming up later in the month?

Reply:  Yes, information will be posted on RT's website next week.

Sacramento, CA:  My question and/or concern relates to transit service during the construction of the Downtown Entertainment Sports Complex. Will Regional Transit be moving off of L Street from West of 9th Street and adding a Capitol Mall stop in both directions between 7th and 8th Streets? My feeling is that a new stop in this Capitol Mall location would be ideal to access the existing Capitol Mall Light Rail Stations. Is Regional Transit in agreement with this type of thinking as well?

Reply:  It is expected that buses will remain on L Street throughout the construction period. The bus stops on L Street between 5th Street and 7th Street will be closed for construction and a new stop will be constructed on L Street east of 7th Street, in front of the former Greyhound depot.

North Highlands , CA:  After numerous complaints, nothing has been done about the lights at Roseville Road station. Several of us women don’t like walking on the sidewalk approaching the station in the early morning because there are no lights on. When will they be replaced?

Reply:  The lights are currently being repaired. A copper thief pulled the wiring out of the lighting system. What they did not steal, they broke. This is an expensive and time-consuming repair. It will take a few more weeks before all of the damage is repaired. The rain has slowed the repair process, which has been underway for over a month. You may want to consider parking at another park-and-ride lot in the meantime.

Elk Grove, CA:  What is the timeline for the Streetcar project? When will ground be broken and fare service begin? Also, will it use some of the light-rail stations and share tracks with light-rail? Or will it be completely separate with its own track?

Reply:  Construction of the project is expected to begin in January 2016, and the current projected completion date is December 2017. Some of RT's current light rail track will be shared with the Streetcar.

Sacramento, CA:  Everyone says the economy is getting better so is RT's financial future sound now? Will you have a balanced budget next year?

Reply:  We expect to balance next year's budget as we have every year. RT is always closely monitoring sales tax revenues and sources of funding, and finding ways to reduce expenses.

Sacramento, CA:  What is RT doing to make sure that people on the light rail are paying their fare? I haven't been asked to show my ticket in months, and frankly it's a big slap in the face to those of us who actually pay to see folks who clearly aren't paying not get caught. Why not focus on improving existing service and beefing up security and fare enforcement before expanding?

Reply:  The number of fare inspections have been increasing over the last few months and will continue to increase. When the Connect Card (electronic fare payment system) is launched in summer 2014, transit officers and police officers will be able to quickly check the new fare media for proof of payment. RT's fare evasion rate is less than 2 percent, which is a very low evasion rate.

Comments from Alane Masui: 

Thank you for your participation today. Join us for the next session of Transit Talk on Friday, May 2 from noon to 1 p.m.