Transit Talk with the General Manager

June 06, 2014
Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Transit Talk will be live on Friday, June 6 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: 

Hello and thank you for joining today’s online chat.

As I’m sure many of you are aware, on May 20 the Sacramento City Council voted in favor of a financing and development plan for a new downtown Entertainment and Sports Center located at what is now Sacramento Downtown Plaza.

In preparation for the construction of this catalyst project, RT bus service on L Street between 9th and 5th streets will be discontinued in early July. Routes 11, 30, 38, 62, 86 and 88 will be re-routed to travel on Capitol Mall. The new bus stop will also be located on Capitol Mall between 7th and 8th streets.

Descriptions for each route change, including updated maps, will be available at later this month.

sacramento, CA:  How did the Connect Card pilot go in May? Did it go well enough that you now have a go-live date?

Reply:  It was a mixed bag. Some components worked very well, but we had a few surprises. We are working through the action items list from the 1st part of the pilot. We also are completing the proper analysis and tracking of data from the use of the Connect Card use and the resulting funding distribution. The results of that work will not be complete until after the middle of June. At that point, we will know what work remains to complete the system for roll out.

sacramento, CA:  If I take three single fare rides in the same day, that exceeds the cost of an All Day Pass. So, if I know in advance that I'll be taking 3 or more trips that day, I buy an All Day Pass. If I don't know, I pay single fares and end up paying more. How will the Connect Card handle those scenarios? As I tap on/off the bus and light rail, will the amount debited from the card during a single day automatically max out at the cost of an All Day Pass, so I don't pay more for the day than an all day pass? Or, will I have to tell the system to debit me for an All Day Pass when I first board the bus or light rail, and then the card won't be debited for the rest of the day? Similarly, if I ride with a series of Single Fares and Daily Passes during a month, will what the Connect Card is debited during the month max out at the cost of a Monthly Pass if my Single and Daily fares exceed the Monthly cost?

Reply:  Thanks for the questions. Starting with the Daily Pass question, the Connect Card process with the Daily Pass will be the same as it is now. The Connect Card will not automatically "max out" as you add single ride trips, you will have to select the Daily Pass when you first ride in any one day and it will apply the pass every time you ride in that day. You will still make a "guess" whether or not it will be worth it to you with regard to paying for a Single Ride versus the Daily Pass. If you think you will take more than one two-way trip, the Daily Pass will still be your best value. Regarding a Monthly Pass, the same logic will apply. If you think you will take more than twenty two-way trips per month, selecting the pass at the beginning of the month will be your best value. The Connect Card will not automatically count rides until that value is met. If you don't select the Monthly Pass, the card will continue to deduct Single Ride and Daily Pass values individually.

Sacramento, CA:  As a middle class public transit user I find the condition of the train and buses to be less than appealing, why doesn't SacRT use Train and Bus wraps to increase revenue?

Reply:  We do have a contract for on-bus advertising that generates additional revenue. The last time we went out to bid for an exterior advertising program on the trains we received no bids. At this point, given the advertising market, we are generating the maximum amount of additional revenue we can.

Sacramento, CA:  Has there been any thought to allowing transfers making public transportation more affordable and easier to us, there-by increasing ridership and revenue, reducing auto usage?

Reply:  We do allow and in-fact, encourage transfers between services. From a fare stand point you can receive unlimited rides throughout the day with a day pass and for the entire month with a monthly pass.

Sacramento, CA:  I have a question(s) about the Connect Transit Card. How are things looking towards a launch month for Regional Transit? July? August? September? What else needs to be done so that folks who currently ride on monthly stickers can transition to the new Connect Transit Card?

Reply:  We are analyzing the results of the pilot and will work through the things that need to be corrected before we establish a go live date. We will pick a date when we are sure the system functions properly. Our goal is to go live as soon as possible. The monthly pass on the Connect Card works really well. Once a rider has a Connect Card, loading a new monthly pass is extremely simple. It can be loaded on line (via the web), set up to automatically load a new month at the end of the previous month, sponsoring agencies/employers can load the pass, retail vendors can load products including the monthly pass, at light rail platforms customers can use the Add Fare Machines to load any product including monthly passes, or customers can visit the Regional Transit Sales Center at 1225 R Street to have products loaded on their cards. The website has much of this information and will have more details added over the next few months.

Folsom, CA:  Now that the Sacramento City Council has approved the Downtown Entertainment Sports Complex, will we finally be able to get train service between the hours of 7pm and 12am either all at once in September 2016, or three additional trains the beginning of each fiscal year for the next three consecutive July's? Folsom would be quite interested in this on a daily/nightly basis.

Reply:  We run trains until 12:00 am today. What will likely happen with the opening of the new ESC is that will run service on a fifteen minute frequency much later into the evening. We will also want to run later service to the City of Folsom.

Citrus Heights, CA:  My existing Bus and Light Rail TimeTable Book is dated Sunday, September 2, 2012. Is the next edition due out, I'm assuming, on Sunday, September 7, 2014?

Reply:  Yes we will be publishing a new book in September, 2014.

South Sacramento, CA:  How is construction going on Blue Line to Cosumnes River College? Ahead of Schedule? On Schedule? Behind Schedule? We always hear about "Fix 50" construction ahead of schedule in the T.V. News. Does your agency think it is about time to have the news media report on this critically regional project and its schedule?

Reply:  I'm pleased to report that the Blue Line to Cosumnes River College, is on schedule and under budget. Revenue operations are still scheduled to begin approximately September 15, 2015. Your suggestion to provide a news media report is a good one and when the time is right, we will see if we can schedule one. Right now, as you note, transportation news in the media is all about "Fix 50".

Arden/Arcade, CA:  How is the Sacramento County Watt Avenue at U.S. 50 project going along? When it is finished, can riders expect to see some Route (s) 80/84 service improvements coming into play?

Reply:  The construction project is proceeding along nicely. It is our expectation that RT will begin to serve the bus improvement in January 2015. We still have not decide which routes will operate on this new facility. However, at this point I am leaning toward utilizing bus routes #80 and #84.

Sacramento, CA:  What is the Regional Transit budget situation looking like going into July? Will riders generally be able to see some bus service changes/improvements going into this next year, or no better than what is out in service today?

Reply:  RT's budget for FY 2015 that begins on July 1st of this year will go to the RT Board for adoption on June 23rd and a balanced budget is now out for public review. Staff continues to monitor those elements of the budget that are subject to change between now and then so that we can account for as much revenue as possible. For example, if there is a significant uptick in sales tax, that revenue category will be increased on the final budget that is presented for adoption. Unfortunately, next year is shaping up to be a very tight year financially and no service increases are planned. This is not to say there won't be some changes as we may be able to tweak existing service in ways that will be improvements that do not result in an increase in cost.

Elk Grove, CA:  My company had a staff meeting today due to it being the first Friday of the month. We noticed that next month, the first Friday is a National Holiday. We canceled our next meeting until Friday 1 August 2014 because of this. Will the same be true for your Transit Talk, or will you still hold Transit Talk on Friday 4 July, nonetheless? Thank you.

Reply:  I am planning on holding the Transit Talk on Friday July 11 due to the holiday.

Sacramento, CA:  I have some concerns regarding RT's no-smoking policy. In the four months it's been enacted, there seems to be no expansion of the messages mentioning the policy to other stations and stops beyond the stations that already have them. Furthermore the enforcement seems to be lax if any. During the course of the policy so far, only one incident I have reported to security has had action been taken. Almost all the time I report it, it is brushed aside and ignored. Will there be more enforcement and mention of it in the near future or will it remain as it is?

Reply:  Keep reporting when you see violation. We've purchased the rest of the needed signs to complete the installation. Our RT Police Service team has begun with a soft enforcement, where they are contacting people and sharing information about the new policy when they see violation. They will transition to citation based enforcement when the new signs are installed. Our goal is to complete the transition this summer. Thanks again for taking the time to report the violation. I hope you are taking advantage of the text line (67283 text must begin with with "sacrt").

South Sacramento , CA:  Now that we going to have the Entertainment Sports Center (ESC) and new construction activity coming up in Downtown Sacramento, I want to ask if you planning any major service changes either this year or are you waiting until the Blue Line CRC extension? Specifics?

Reply:  There will be a few construction-related changes to our bus service near the arena. Construction will force us to close detour our buses that use L Street in downtown. The date is still not entirely certain, but we expect these changes will be happening in early July. We will be notifying our riders at all the affected stops as soon as the date is confirmed by the ESC's contractor. The new route will be to take 9th Street south to westbound Capitol Mall. There will be a new bus stop on Capitol Mall between 7th and 8th Street, serving the two Capitol Mall light rail stations. Buses will then use 5th Street to get back on route. This will affect people who currently use bus stops on L Street between 5th Street and 10th Street. We have more detailed information ready to go on these changes, but we are waiting until the construction approvals are final, in case there are any last-minute changes to the date or the scope. As for long-term/major changes, the main difference is that we will most likely be running special service trains for the events, to handle the heavy loads we expect, much like our very well-received service we've been providing for Sacramento Republic FC soccer games at City College. (The next Republic FC game is tomorrow, Saturday, June 6!)

South Sacramento , CA:  There is summer school for some high schools in Sacramento. Are you seeing an increase in ridership on routes from past summer months?

Reply:  It's a little early to tell. We'll keep an eye on that as we analyze our May and June ridership. Thank you!

sacramento, CA:  I heard that for “Connect Transit Card”, the monthly pass holder will be require to scan the new card at connect station before getting on train. Due to connection issues, sometime there is not enough time to run to scanning device. If there is not enough time, ride will have to wait for next train. There should be scanning devices inside the train or the monthly pass holder should not be required scan (make it optional). Since there rider already paid for monthly ride, RT won’t get any additional payment for the ride.

Reply:  Yes, riders need to tap before boarding. The distribution of funds among the transit systems in the region is related to rider use, so we need you to tap. There are generally 7 places to tap in most stations and it only takes 1 second to tap the device with your card. The card readers are located near the entrances, so this should be very easy. As a monthly pass holder, you will not see any additional charges by tapping each time you board. We are still working through incentives for tapping. Maybe you will win a prize.

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:  Thanks for the question. We will be testing the on train technology over the next two months. Subsequent to a successful test, we will begin installation of the needed hardware to provide real-time data to our signs, the web and our smart phone application. Bus real time information is available on the web or on our application which can be downloaded with your browser from

Sacramento, CA:  Ever considered a 15 day pass that would cost $50 reg / $ 25 disabled that would allow the rider to choose randomly which days to use. I findthat I can't use the traditional monthly/semi monthly passes, if I was able to select certain days per given month I would end up using rt more.

Reply:  That's an interesting question. We are aware of systems that have short-term non-sequential pass programs, most are for four days or less. Unfortunately, the decision to run a sequential pass program was made long ago and the RT fare structure and accounting system are set up for a sequential pass program that results in the traditional monthly and semi-monthly pass program you noted. You will be happy to learn that the upcoming Connect Card will allow you the kind of flexibility you are seeking through the "purse" option. You will be able to purchase a Daily Pass that will allow unlimited rides on a single day as well as a single ride at the regular or discounted rate. The Connect Card will also allow you to buy a monthly or semi-monthly pass but it will still be based on the traditional sequential system that we have today. You can find out more about the Connect Card at

Rancho Cordova, CA:  I noticed in the news earlier this week that you have "shifted" the hours where private patrols and sworn law enforcement officers are patrolling light rail trains. If I recall, news reports are now saying patrols are from Noon to 10pm. Please correct me if I am wrong. In the meantime here is my question on this subject matter. Once the Downtown Sacramento Entertainment Sports Complex opens, will the shift that patrols occur be able to be 2pm to 12am with very little increase in cost to SacRT? I presume additional staffing will be needed to handle crowds beginning October 1, 2016, therefore this might be where an increase in cost occurs, unless that cost is spread out to your partners like cities, counties, and the Entertainment Sports Complex Anchor Tennants.

Reply:  We have made some adjustments with regard to the assignments of our officers. We have also changed the manner that our contract officers perform their duties. It is important to know that we are not ignoring our system prior to 12:00 noon. We will continue to have a security presence during those hours as well. Regarding the future operation of service to support the ESC, you are correct that we will need to increase our security presence. This will be similar to what we are doing now to support the Republic FC Soccer games at Hughes stadium. For the three home games to date we have transported approximately 10% of those attending the games. To support this we have increased security on those days.

Sacramento, CA:  I know that RT rolled out the no smoking policy on stations a few months ago but I still see people on LR stations smoking. Sometimes right next to the no smoking signs. I am tempted to call the smokers but always afraid that they would turn against me. What is RT doing to enforce this policy?

Reply:  Our guards and Police Officers are approaching smokers at stations that have the new no smoking signs. Many of the stations have not been posted yet. We plan to complete the sign installation over the course of this summer and more robust enforcement will begin at that time. I suggest that you take advantage of our text line for reporting these and other violation. Text 67283 and start your message with "sacrt". This is the non-emergency line to our RT Security Center.

Sacramento , CA:  Need some clarification on e-cigarettes. Your Customer Advocacy Department told me they were legal and can be used at light rail stations. Is this true?

Reply:  No. Currently we are treating anything that looks like a cigarette as a cigarette. We may revisit that policy, when more information is available.

Sacramento , CA:  I noticed the new devices on buses for the new smart card. The operator told me passengers will be required to tap the device in the back when exiting the bus. If I'm disabled and can only get off in the front, how am I supposed to tap the device in the back of the bus?

Reply:  You will be able to tap off using the device in the front of the bus the same way as the one on the back of the bus.

Sacramento, CA:  When will the Arden/Del Paso Station have the scheduled time information display signs that most other major light rail stations already have?

Reply:  The Arden-Del Paso Light Rail Station is one of a handful of stations that do not have communication fiber connected to our control center. The fiber optic cable installation contract was awarded last month and the installation begins this month. When that work is complete at the end of this month, we will install signs, additional security cameras and other infrastructure. So the signs should be in by the end of this summer. This will close the final gap in the project to add technology to all of the light rail stations. This work represents a milestone achievement for RT.

Elk Grove, CA:  "We do allow and in-fact, encourage transfers between services." This is news to me. On route 65, I twice requested a transfer to light rail and was denied both times on the claim that RT doesn't do transfers anymore. Also, one time, I tried to use my validated single use ticket (that had not expired yet) to get on 65 and was told that it was no good, forcing me to get another single use ticket. If you're saying that RT allows transfers between services, your operators apparently did not get that memo.

Reply:  That is correct, you cannot transfer between modes such as from rail to bus or vice-versa using a single ride ticket. RT does not provide single ride transfers, however, my earlier response was to illustrate that you can, in effect, have full use of the RT system using the Daily Pass or Monthly Pass.

folsom, CA:  There is a safety (tripping) hazzard at the Glenn Station. When they removed the pay phone they left a 2" conduit sticking up out of the platform.

Reply:  I'll forward this to my facilities team for repair/correcting. Thanks for letting me know.

Elk Grove, CA:  I heard that the second phase of the DNA "green" line out to Natomas would not be completed until 2025 and that the final phase to the airport will not be completed until 2035. I will be almost 60 by then (I'm 38 now)! Why is this taking so long and what can be done to accelerate the timetable? To me, 2025 to start fare service to the airport seems far more reasonable.

Reply:  The development of the Green Line to the Airport is totally dependent on available funding. In order to deliver this project all of the way to the Airport we will need a significant increase in funding that is sustainable over many years. We are very focused on completing this improvement well before 2035. the sooner we receive the funding the sooner we can get this project going.

Elk Grove, CA:  As part of the 2035 MTP, will there be any BRT corridors on I5 or 99?

Reply:  If you're asking if we are planning BRT in either of these freeway medians, the answer is no. We do have plans for what we call Hi-Bus on several major arterial corridors such as Stockton, Florin, Watt and Sunrise. Hi-Bus is a bit of a catchall term for something as robust as BRT, or a slightly more modest version which could include some elements of BRT, e.g., full or partial dedicated right-of-way, articulated buses, more robust branding and identification, off-vehicle ticketing, larger stations, etc.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

The next session of Transit Talk is scheduled for Friday, July 11, 2014. Thank you for your questions.