Transit Talk with the General Manager

November 07, 2014
Mark Lonergan, Chief Operating Officer
RT Safety and Security and General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Transit Talk will be live Friday, November 7, from noon to 1 p.m. and the system will accept questions from 10 a.m. through the end of the chat.

Comments from Mark Lonergan: 

Hello and thank you for joining us today. My name is Mark Lonergan, RT's Chief Operating Officer, and I am happy to guest host of Transit Talk with the General Manager today.

Feel free to ask any transit-related questions you may have. My expertise is in the day-to-day operations and more technical side of operating a transit agency.

I also would like to alert everyone that RT is in the process of hosting community meetings to present RT's Security Peer Review report, and discuss RT's security program.

The purpose of the Security Peer Review held in July 2014 was to evaluate existing RT security services, policies and procedures, and to provide recommendations to help improve the safety and security of passengers while using the RT system. Topics included Police Services staffing and deployment, technology, fare enforcement, station design, and rider experience.

The first two meetings were this Wednesday and Thursday and were well-attended by riders interested in assisting RT to improve the safety and security of the system. I encourage today's chat participants to attend the last meeting scheduled for next Wednesday, November 12, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in downtown Sacramento.

The draft Security Peer Review report is available for review at To request a translated copy of the draft report in Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese or Hmong, call 916-556-0443.

Comments may also be submitted via email to and must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, November 14. The final Security Peer Review report will be presented at the RT Board of Directors meeting on Monday, December 8.

Thank you and let's begin today's chat.

Sacramento, CA:  What is the status and expected timeline for the Railyards light rail station that is planned for the Green Line? Have you decided the precise location? Will the station be open in time for planned development in the area, such as the proposed soccer stadium?

Reply:  RT does not have a firm timeline for the relocation of the station in the Railyards. The timing is linked to development of the Railyards and will likely occur with either the further development of the Intermodal Station element or as a part of one of the first development projects. The planned location is to move the station platform from its current east/west orientation to a north/south orientation next to the extension of 5th Street through the Railyards. The exact orientation and location could change to accommodate development. Specific to the proposed soccer stadium, there is a Greenline station at 7th Street and the new street, Railyards Boulevard which will be adjacent to the proposed stadium. At this point, we would expect the station to be constructed with the stadium.

Folsom, CA:  Good Afternoon Mark, I am looking forward to the day of the grand opening of the Blue Line to Cosumnes River College. Here in Folsom, riders and I have been talking about and have wondered when we will have service later in the evenings, much like we did in September on the date that the "Folsom Live" event occurred. Will we have to wait for another 23 months for later evening service to happen in Folsom, being that this is when we are hearing is the timeframe for the grand opening of the Downtown Sacramento Entertainment Sports Complex. While I cannot speak for fellow Folsom residents, it would sure be exciting to have the peace of mind that you can take rail to, and especially from the Downtown Sacramento Entertainment Sports Complex, if in fact rail back to Folsom will be operating late enough, like it did for "Folsom Live" to do this beginning October 2016. Let me know if this is being talked about now, and what needs to fall into place for this to happen for us in Folsom. Thank you.

Reply:  The light rail service we operate to Folsom is part of a contract. We operate what the City of Folsom agrees to pay for. Like RT, the City of Folsom has limited funds for transit, and their priority to date has been to provide core daytime service for commuters and visitors to Folsom. If the City of Folsom wants to expand light rail hours later into the night for Kings games, that is something we can definitely accommodate. On the other hand, even under existing conditions, having light rail out to Sunrise at least allows event attendees a way to beat the traffic and park for free. We have been in recent discussions with Folsom to extend service hours, among a number of other topics. In our planning for the Entertainment Sports Complex, we have looked at a variety of ways of serving events with both bus and light rail service. We recognize that continued late night service to Folsom during ESC events is important, but we have not finalized the details on how it will be accomplished. More to come!

South Sacramento, CA:  Is Regional Transit planning to operate the 67/68 later at night beginning in the Spring to accommodate workers and spectators to Bonney Field, especially during Sacramento Republic FC matches? I attended matches at City College because it was so convenient. I had to sell my season tickets to a friend/co-worker once the move to Bonney happened because service was about as poor as it is now to what it has been for the longest time to Sleep Train Arena for Kings and Concerts. Is there a fix in the works, at least for the circumstances at Bonney Field?

Reply:  There's not much we can do about their location. As you mentioned, Hughes Stadium at the City College station was ideal for transit and I think the overall experience was terrific. The location of Bonney Field is not as feasible for us to serve. We have had discussions with Republic FC representatives and we may pilot some bus service into the Cal Expo main entrance next season, but we don't know if the demand will necessarily translate into ridership. It's tough to beat high-capacity trains coming every 30 minutes on a highly-recognizable line, a couple hundred feet from the main entrance to the stadium. Republic FC has been a terrific partner and we are hopeful that their long-term goal for a downtown site, closer to light rai, will work out.

Citrus Heights, CA:  What is the status of Regional Transit and other transits in the area going from paper fare to electronic "smart card" fare? Is a launch anticipated by Tuesday, April 1, 2015? What seems to be the hold up and how are the issues holding up the launch being resolved?

Reply:  We are having some system issues that are being worked by INIT (the vendor). When those are tested and verified, we will pick a go live date. We are down to a very small number of issues, but they are critical. RT is unwilling to roll out the system until it works properly. A few months after everything works we plan to go live. Subsequent to successful testing, there will be a marketing campaign for the new Connect Card. Watch for details over the next few months.

sacramento, CA:  Connect Card question. I've noticed that a lot (maybe all) of the Connect terminals on buses have been red lately with a message to the effect of "Out of Service. Invalid driver ID." Is this a good sign that the system is down by design in preparation for go-live early next year? Or is it merely another glitch from the pilot that's being worked out?

Reply:  It is currently off line. When we begin preparations for going live, the system will be enabled. Employees will begin using the system within the next 60 days to ensure that all of the customer facing devices are working properly. When that begins, you will see the tap devices in an active state. Watch for our "Connect Card" coming soon campaign.

sacramento, CA:  is there a list of expenditures that the public can see to know where the money is going?

Reply:  Yes. Our annual budget and capital budet documents are available on line at our website SACRT.COM. Once you are on the website, choose the item titled "About RT", from there look for "RT Financial Documents" or "Monthly Performance Report". These documents will have information on monthly and annual financial results.

sacramento, CA:  Why does RT charge more in slow economic times when ridership is lower, then when the economy is booming? doesnt that seem backwards?

Reply:  Fares account for approximately 20% to 25% of RT's operating costs. We have a goal of covering 30% of our operating costs from fares. Overall, RT is funded by a combination of Federal, State and local sources with fares being one of our local sources of funding. During bad economic times, revenue from Federal, State and some of our local sources can decline significantly. To balance RT's budget, our only choices are either to raise fares, reduce service or a combination of the two. We last increased our fares in September 2009. It was not something we wanted to do; however, we were facing unprecedented budgetary shortfalls due to the governor at the time acting to de-fund what had always been a very consistent reliable source of transit funding from RT and the other transit agencies throughout the state. For RT, the choice was either to raise fares or cut more service. We ended up having to do a little of both. At the same time, we were also hit hard by reduced sales tax revenues, which are the main driver of our state and local funding. Both sources have rebounded, but not to the extent that we can afford to reduce fares, because it was a very severe hit that we had in 2010.

North Sacramento, CA:  Are light rail stations like Globe, Arden, and Royal Oaks getting Passenger Information Display Signs installed or not? If they are, when are they estimated to go live and in working order?

Reply:  The Passenger Information Display signs require a direct communication connection to RT's network in order to work properly and provide meaningful information. The older segments of the light rail system were not built with the required communication infrastructure. The recent weekend light rail shut down, Blue Line from Watt I-80 to Downtown Sacramento, allowed RT to install the fiber optic cables for communication to Arden Del Paso and Royal Oaks. RT staff is working on the network communication gear and will be installing the digital message signs, security cameras and other data systems over the next six months. Globe's installation will follow the other stations work by a few months.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Someone told me on a bus last week that when Regional Transit expands light rail to Cosumnes River College next calendar year that several bus lines will be undergoing schedule changes according to changes in the light rail lines. Is this true? If true, will a community meeting or even an RT Board Public Hearing be needed due to the shear number of bus routes impacted by schedule changes associated with the light rail expansion?

Reply:  Yes, when the Blue Line to Cosumnes River College opens in September of 2015, a number of bus schedules will be adjusted to serve the new line. We will have a major public awareness campaign prior to the grand opening to let people know about any times that shift. This is something we'll be doing more out on the system and through our newsletters, email, web page, etc. than through a hearing. If you have any particular suggestions though, please send them to or call Customer Advocacy at 916-557-4545. We do also have two particular service changes that are in progress that will have public hearings. First, we are considering service changes right now for Route 28. These would take effect in April 2015. We will hold a hearing on December 8, 2014 at our regular Board meeting. More information is available at: Second, we are also looking at some changes to south area routes to try to restore service on Power Inn Road, formerly served by Route 8. This might lead to changes on Routes 61 and 65. These changes would take effect in September 2015, when we open the Blue Line extension. A hearing for these changes is set for January 26, 2015. We don't have official materials out for review yet, but we did make a presentation to our Board on this, which you can view at the link below:

Sacramento, CA:  When are we expecting to go live with express light rail service? Are the new cars low or high floors?

Reply:  Light Rail limited stop service is a part of RT's future service plans. The project requires a number of signaling improvments that are part of a project that is not fully funded. We can not start limited stop service until the signaling improvements are complete. The service would be operated with our existing fleet of LRV's which are high floor cars. We expect to start a conversion to a low floor fleet with the replacement of our Siemens fleet which are eligible for replacement beginning in 2017. The actual timeframe for both starting limited stop service and beginning a conversion to a low floor fleet are dependent on the availability of funding.

Sac, CA:  Are there any plans to wrap the old cars with new designs, like with the green line, maybe one supporting the Kings?

Reply:  We are in the process of wrapping the Siemens fleet in RT's colors and paint scheme. RT is certainly open to the idea of wrapping cars a unique design, and are currently working with a group to design an "art wrap" for a few cars.

South Sacramento, CA:  Before the Blue Line is opened can the 56 service frequency be increased in the meantime, maybe every 15-20 mins. The bus can get to max capacity sometimes to where there isnt even standing room.

Reply:  We don't have plans to do so at this point due to the excessive cost and no additional funds budgeted for service expansion. We anticipate that the South Line will relieve some of the overcrowding on Route 56 when it opens in September 2015.

Davis, CA:  Whats the deal with rumors going around about a Davis lr extension?

Reply:  While the idea is interesting, RT currently has no plans to extend light rail to Davis. A few issues which would make the project difficult include the lack of population between Sacramento and Davis, which could limit ridership numbers, and the expense in crossing the Yolo Bypass. This would also be a very expensive project to design and construct.

Natomas, CA:  Is the next phase for the green line directly being built to the airport or will the next phase go to natomas first?

Reply:  At this point, we do not have an answer for you. We are currently doing the environmental work for the project and it includes the entire project to the airport. Whether the project is fully constructed or phased will depend upon available funding to build and operate the project.

sac, CA:  Mstvjust passed small sales tax howvabout rt to boost bus service

Reply:  There is a group evaluating the feasability of a new sales tax Measure supporting transportation projects, including RT projects, that could go to the voters in November of 2016.

Comments from Mark Lonergan: 

Thank you for your questions today. Mike Wiley will return for the next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager on Friday, December 5.