Transit Talk with the General Manager

June 05, 2015
Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Transit Talk will be live on Friday, June 5 from noon to 1 p.m. and the system will accept questions now through the end of the chat.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Good afternoon. Frequent RT riders may have noticed additional police presence on the Gold Line trains during the evening hours in the month of May, and I wanted to outline the reason.

RT Police Services (RTPS) began a two-month pilot program in May titled C.O.A.T. or "Cop on a Train." During the evening hours, RTPS is staffing additional officers on the Gold Line to test how increased police presence affects nuisance behavior, crime and the way riders perceive their experience.

The start times vary, but officers are assigned to a specific train during the later evening hours seven days a week. The officers patrol the entire train, jumping from car to car to deter crimes and nuisance behavior, while also increasing RT's fare inspection efforts.

Ultimately, the goal is to increase the safety of the system and improve the passenger experience. Program effectiveness will be measured by taking feedback from riders, analyzing calls for service during the hours the officers are on the trains, and reviewing crime data. After the pilot is complete, RT will examine the data and determine if the cost/benefit of the program justifies its continuation and possible future funding.

Officers have relayed positive feedback from riders about the increased police presence on the trains. RT guards have also indicated less nuisance behavior on Gold Line trains during the program implementation, which is scheduled to continue through June.

North Natomas, CA:  How do I get a bus route changed to meet the needs of a business that has high Regional Transit ridership? Who at Regional Transit should I be in contact with? My business might move sometime in July from where it is today to 1020 Del Paso Road in North Natomas. This is between National and Northgate. In scouting the roadway earlier this week, I realized that there is no bus line that goes out that section of roadway. I have a rough estimate of 50 - 75 individuals that ride Regional Transit to where my business currently is. All I am trying to do is assist them as best as I possibly can. Thank you.

Reply:  Please start with RoseMary Covington our Assistant General Manager of Planning and Transit System Development. She can be reached at or by phone at 916 556-0340. I am excited to see your interest and our team has a history of looking for solutions to the problem you are highlighting. Thanks for the question.

Sacramento , CA:  When will test trains be testing the new tracks on the blue line extension.

Reply:  Testing on the Blue Line to Cosumnes River College will begin this month, likely by mid-June. RT has been reaching out to the community to prepare everyone for the new vehicles traveling through their neighborhoods. Pedestrians and motorists should use caution at grade-crossings, when near tracks and in stations. Always obey all warning signs and signals and do not be distracted by your electronic devices. For more safety information, visit

South Sacramento, CA:  What date is the ribbon cutting and community celebration for the Blue Line to CRC? I will be a student there in the Fall, and want to assure my college/career guidance counselor that I can ride light rail from 47th Avenue or Florin Station beginning on the first day of class. Some students will start school at CRC on Saturday, August 22nd. My first class will be on Monday, August 24th, if that helps Regional Transit out. Thank you for looking into this.

Reply:  We have not set the date for the ribbon cutting event at this point. However, we are very much aware of the start date of Fall classes. We are making every attempt to meet that date. We will likely announce the date in the next thirty days.

Sacramento , CA:  In regards to safety, what are your plan to improve this? And to how to have only ticketed passage ride the light rail

Reply:  .RT is working to improve safety and security on the system. We have implemented a number of programs recently, including granting our security guards the authority to check fare in RT stations and assigning guards to every train during the evening hours. We are also working to implement "fare-paid" zones in stations and are pursuing changes to legislation to allow RT to oversee the administrative process for fare evasion, unburdening the courts and allowing a higher level of enforcement through RT. Through these efforts and more, we are striving to increase the percent of passengers inspected from approximately 12.5 percent today to over 20 percent. As I stated in the opening of the chat, we are also conducting a pilot program on the Gold Line through June, where an officer is assigned to each train during the later evening hours to deter possible issues. Finally, our proposed budget for fiscal year 2016, that starts July 1, 2015, includes a $900,000 increase for security.

South Sacramento , CA:  Regarding the Sacramento Entertainment Sports Complex (ESC), are you planning any re-routing of buses once it is completed?

Reply:  RT is actively working on a draft operational plan for service to major events at the ESC. The environmental work completed for the ESC estimated that RT's existing service levels will adequately handle the loads expected for major events at the ESC, and that light rail service will be the mode primarily used by ESC employees and event attendees. RT's draft operational plan will include plans for augmented service to address system utilization that may exceed levels predicated by the environmental work. The focus of this augmented service will, however, be on light rail service. The quantity and geographic & time distribution of riders associated with events at the ESC are not anticipated to warrant additional bus service. With no additional funding contribution currently required by other parties to address potential increases in use of public transit, RT must look to fund all service improvements through an increase in additional fare revenue generated by increased ridership.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  It would cost me about $6.00 of gas and $6.00 of parking fee to take my wife and my son to visit museums in old Town. It would cost at least $15.00 to ride light rail beside hassle with people who is ready to rob you. I experienced it myself. Why should I take public transit?

Reply:  Use of public transportation has many benefits to both the individuals who use public transit as well all other community members. In addition to the incremental costs that you mention, the costs associated with owning, maintaining and insuring a personal automobile are partially attributed to the individual trip opportunity provided in your example. In addition to a potential direct cost savings to users, use of public transit for the example trip that you provided will allow your family to travel to and from museums without the stress involved with operating a personal automobile. Use of public transit will allow your family an opportunity to interact with other community members, experience and learn to use a service that has tremendous community benefit and may be a necessity for you or your family members in the future. The additional educational opportunities that using public transit will facilitate may exceed those provided at a museum. Use of public transit may serve as a spring board for discussion about modes of transportation, governmental subsidies to all all modes of transportation and the magnitude of these subsidies the reasons why some people use one mode of transportation or combined modes of transportation as well as the role of transportation in economic development, environmental impacts and social equity. Public transit has economic, environmental and time savings benefits for the whole community that result from increased access to resources and transportation network and fuel use efficiencies

South Sacramento , CA:  With the new light rail coming to CRC this fall, will there be any changes to existing routes, such as 54, 55, and 56? Will there also be any service adjustments, especially on Saturdays?

Reply:  Route 65 will be realigned with the opening of service to CRC this fall. The segments of Route 65 that currently operate south of Cosumnes River Blvd (or the soon-to-be open Franklin Light Rail Station) and west of Franklin Blvd will be reallocated to provide service to the Avondale and Glen Elder neighborhoods and provide a connection to light rail at both the Franklin and University/65th Street stations. No changes are currently planned to routes 54, 55 or 56. For more information about the change to Route 65 and other changes that will be implemented in September of 2015, please visit RT's website at

Sacramento, CA:  I read on the Internet that a suspicious person was arrested at the Florin Station for selling counterfeit fare media by undercover Regional Transit Police Services Staff. First of all, congratulations for catching this "thug" and/or "hooligan" for doing what they were doing. We do not need people like this riding Regional Transit and forcing us good riders that follow the rules and the laws into paying higher fares. That being said, based on this incident, how far along is Regional Transit and the Sacramento Region as a whole in switching from paper fare media to an electronic "smart card" in which riders like us can implement "stored value" onto our cards like monthly passes for RT and E-Cash on connecting transit properties that are not RT, but rather connect with RT throughout Sacramento? I hope this transition will happen real soon so that Regional Transit and others will never have to deal with what just recently happened at the Florin Station. Sad situation.

Reply:  We are making some good progress with the Smart Card project. We recently received an updated software version of the customer service and corporate accounts module. We are now testing these modules by running various scenarios tests and evaluating the results. The Connect Card website has been developed and we are now in the process of making minor changes to improve the customer experience. Furthermore, last month, RT began issuing all employees with a Connect Card and asked these employees to test their cards by tapping the card at various stations and buses equipped with tap devices. We don't have a go live date at this point, however we anticipate providing our customers with a full marketing campaign at least 2 months prior to going live.

Sacramento , CA:  In regards to non paying fare riders, how are you addressing this? (Personally, I think cracking down on this will improve on the preception of safety on light rail)

Reply:  We are attacking this from a number of directions at once. First, we are doing a increasing fare enforcement with police officers, transit officers and security guards. This includes looking into the establishment of fare paid zones and increasing our goal of fare inspection to 20% of riders. We are making changes now to achieve the new goal. We are also attacking fraud with the upcoming move to a smart card fare system (Connect Card). Between these measures, we expect to dramatically cut our fare evasion. In the early question about safety and security, I've included more details about the overall approach to creating a safe, secure system for our riders.

Sacramento, CA:  In February an uncrewed train left a maintenance yard and traveled for several miles down the track. The NTSB recently released a reccomendation stating transit operators shoud "review their operating and maintenance procedures for stored unoccupied cars to ensure the propulsion and brake systems are left in a condition that would not facilitate unintended movement and that redundant means of stopping unintended rail car movements are used." How has Regional Transit reviewed, implemented, and verified its procedures to comply with that recommendation?

Reply:  Thank you for the question. Safety is RT's highest priority and the unattended train movement, an event that had never occurred in RT's 28 year operating history, was a significant concern for us. As you note, the NTSB recommendation pertains to "stored" light rail vehicles and RT's practices are, and have always been, in line with the recommendation. The unattended train movement that RT experienced involved a light rail vehicle that was undergoing maintenance. The mechanic used an unauthorized procedure, and exercised poor judgment, leading to the event. RT took immediate steps to ensure that a similar incident will not occur in the future.

Laguna, CA:  You know, it's too bad you didn't pilot your COAT program on the blue line to Meadowview. That might have stemmed the massive tide of anti-RT sentiment at the May 27 Elk Grove City Council Meeting. Getting a Phase III Blue Line extension into Elk Grove just got a whole lot harder, if not impossible.

Reply:  Perceptions and people with personal agendas often don't align with the facts and the best interests of the community. Our focus at Regional Transit will remain, doing the very best job of providing safe reliable transit for the communities we serve. Our job is to find ways to improve our performance and deliver the best service possible to our patrons and community. There is still work to do and improvements to be made in support of those goals.

Sacramento, CA:  I'm a non-smoker with asthma, and I know there has been a general sweep across the board with light rail stations being non-smoking. Why is it then, that I've seen numerous times other RT employees smoking at light rail stations, even so far as to be directly under a sign that says no smoking? There also needs to be more severe punishment for people breaking the rules rather than someone shouting "walk your bike" or "you can smoke over in the alleyway (16th)".

Reply:  Our police officers and security guards are increasing their level of enforcement. The officers have begun citing offenders who argue or refuse to comply with the no-smoking policy in light rail stations. The guards have less power, but are reporting into control, if a smoker refuses to move out of the station or stop smoking, to our control center. If an police officer is available and in the area, they are being dispatched to assist the security guard. We have been escalating enforcement for the last six months as the education campaign was taking place. During that time, we found many smokers were unaware of the change in policy. We will continue to enhance these enforcement efforts.

Sacramento, CA:  Why hasn't there been some sort of agreement with the Los Rios school district to have the same cheaper passes during the Summer School months as well as the Spring/Fall semesters?

Reply:  The contract between RT and Los Rios Community College District (LRCC) is set to expire in November of 2016, however RT is actively engaged in discussions with the LRCCD concerning potential changes to the current universal transit pass agreement between RT and LRCCD. Most changes, such as the one you mention, require governing body approval and student ratification. Please stay engaged and follow RT's and LRCCD's governing bodies for upcoming information regarding potential changes to the pass offerings. The adjustment you mention is one of a number of improvements being considered. Hopefully there will be a vote of the students in the Fall of 2015.

Sacramento, CA:  Do you plan to implement positive train control prior to the congressionally mandated deadline of December 31 2015? If not, does your organization intend to implement a method to stop the train if it passes a red signal without the train engineer's involvement?

Reply:  The congressional mandate applies to heavy rail such as AMTRAK and not light rail systems. RT has no immediate plans to implement a similar technology, but we are always reviewing our policies and procedures, as well as new technologies, to make sure the system is as safe as possible.

Sacramento, CA:  The NTSB has issued a recommendation to the FTA to require that new or rehabilitated rail transit vehicles be equipped with event recorders meeting Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standard 1482.1 for rail transit vehicle event recorders. Do the rehabilitated VTA trains have event recorders? Do they meet the crash protection requirements of IEEE 1482.1?

Reply:  The UDTC vehicles are equipped with event recorders. The contractor performing the rehabilitation is required to provide equipment that meets all pertinent regulations and requirements.

Laguna, CA:  One other thing that came out of the May 27 Elk Grove City Council Meeting was that Elk Grove has completely eliminated it's plans to include a "route 165" to replace route 65. So that means after September when 65 no longer goes into Elk Grove, there will be no more bus service to Laguna Town Hall...period. The City Council may say that it could come back after its transit evaluation, but I've been around long enough to know that when you cut something, it almost NEVER comes back!

Reply:  Elk Grove chose to withdraw from RT in 2005 and assume responsibility for transit service planning and operations within the jurisdictional boundaries of the city; as such, Elk Grove is responsible for providing transit service in this area.

Sacramento, CA:  will all busses get new fare boxes.

Reply:  That this the intention. Right now, we have 30 new Gillig buses with the new GFI Fast Fare fare boxes. We have a capital project in place to purchase 66 more buses with the new fareboxes, however we are still in need of finding funding for the new fare boxes. Assuming we resolve the funding issue, the plan is to put 33 of the 66 new buses in service by July of 2016 and the remaining 33 in service by November of 2016. At this point, RT would have roughly half of the buses with new fare boxes. Furthermore, RT will be working towards replacing the remaining fareboxes on the remaining buses.

Elk Grove, CA:  Does RT have any idea what e-tran is up to regarding 65/165? I can't seem to get an answer from them or their website.

Reply:  Please contact Elk Grove staff for the latest information regarding potential service changes within the City of Elk Grove. Elk Grove staff will be able to provide you with the most recent information regarding potential changes to e-tran service.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Thank you for your questions today. The next session of Transit Talk with the General Manager will be held on Friday, July 3.