Transit Talk with the General Manager

July 03, 2015
Mark Lonergan, Chief Operating Officer
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Transit Talk will be live on Friday, July 3 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 today's online chat.

Over the past few months, RT has been examining systemwide opportunities to increase revenue and decrease costs in order to create the resources needed to pursue our priorities. It is RT's goal to continue to improve our transit system and provide a quality transportation option for residents across the Sacramento region that is safe, clean and reliable.

This efficiency effort has led to the identification of a number of key areas where RT may be able to generate significant additional income or cost savings. The interim findings were presented at the RT Board of Directors meetings held on June 8 and June 22.

To generate additional revenue, RT is pursuing the sale of state and federal carbon credits earned through renewable fuel and energy use.

RT has also committed to raising the passenger fare inspection rate to 20 percent from its current level of approximately 12 percent. For example, if RT could reduce the overall fare evasion rate by 5 percent, the District may be able to increase fare revenue ranging from $1.7 million to nearly $3 million. Strategies to accomplish this goal may include increasing guard inspection rates, using part-time fare inspectors and adding sworn officers.

Opportunities for cost savings that have been identified include reducing unscheduled Operator absences, considering the re-introduction of part-time Operators, and working with the labor groups to implement different work schedules and overtime rules.

RT staff is currently establishing a detailed implementation plan, which will be combined with the work of the Ad Hoc Committee.

For a complete list of revenue generating and cost savings opportunities that have been indentified, review the issue papers from the Board of Directors meetings held on June 8 and June 22.

South Sacramento, CA:  Next month, I start taking classes at Cosumnes River College. I enrolled in the Saturday Degree Program so that I can take classes in a manner that least interferes with my full time work schedule. With my first day of class being on August 22nd, which is a Saturday, will I be able, on that date, to ride the Blue Line directly to the CRC Campus Station? If that date is not in the works for Regional Transit as far as opearting trains is concerned, when will the first day operations begin for service South of Meadowview? Will there be a community ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening, and on what date will this occur?

Reply:  Our scheduled opening date for the Blue line extension to CRC is Sunday, September 6. The construction and testing is generally going well and we are considering opening earlier then our scheduled date if we can do so safely. We know that CRC starts its fall schedule on August 24 with some classes starting the weekend prior. If we can not support the opening of CRC's fall semester with our Blue line rail extension, we are considering a bus connection to augment existing bus service to CRC until the rail extension opens. There will be a community event to celebrate the opening of the extension. The date will be advertised once we commit to an opening date. We will provide public information both through the media and on our web site at to inform the community of our opening date and celebratory plans.

Sacramento, CA:  Has the idea of extending the LRT to West Sac been considered, instead of a new technology, the streetcar?

Reply:  Actually, streetcar and light rail are basically the same technology. The differences are more in the application of the technology and the intent of the service design. Generally speaking light rail is built to carry passengers longer distances, using a number of light rail vehicles in a train for capacity Streetcar is intended to increase the walk able area along its route. As an example, our typical light rail rider will board a train for, on average, a 5 mile trip. A streetcar rider will typically ride a distance of a few blocks. Streetcars will typically operate as single vehicles and operate in street with automobile traffic in much the same way as Sacramento's light rail system does on 12th Street today. There are often cosmetic differences in the vehicles used. Streetcars can be shorter and less massive in appearance when compared to a light rail vehicle. This is done by design so that the vehicle does not block pedestrian views of businesses and other features of the area served. Streetcar systems often have on board fare collection and more room for standing passengers since the trip lengths are short. Both Streetcar and future light rail vehicles will be low floor vehicles improving passenger boarding. Streetcar stations are much simpler in design then light rail stations resembling more of a fancy bus stop in design. With respect to operation and maintenance, there are really no significant differences between light rail and streetcar.

downtown sacramento , CA:  the new Sacramento kings arena opening in the fall of 2016 will you and do you have plans to expand RT Light rail operations later during the NBA Season after the games many people may want to go to local resturants in the Downtown area who use public transpertation but cant because after the game it may resturants may be crowded and people who use RT may feel like they have to rush dinner to make the last light rail by expanding the light rail operations maybe 1 to 2 hours later than it runs currently will be good for the local economy patrons wont feel rushed at resturants to catch the light rail. this will be good for sacramento. please considering epanding how late the light rail runs during the sacramento kings season. my second question is after the games will you have police officers on every train because as we all know after every sporting events there will be intoxicated fans expecially sinse there not driving they will drink more than they would. I dont really feel safe with the idea of taking RT to the kings games because of how it will be after the games because of the way drunk people act I believe there will be more fights stabings and crime on the light rail after the kings games if there are not police officers on the trains.

Reply:  We're planning on running extra trains after the events to handle the extra riders as well as extra hours to make sure people can get home. We will also have transit ambassadors and guards in full force to ensure that the experience is safe, convenient, and enjoyable. For more info, you may want to attend the RT Board meeting on July 27th, when we'll be giving an informational presentation.

Rancho cordova , CA:  I loved seeing officers on every lightrail at night on the gold line in June It worked very well and made me feel safer can you expand these operations for the blue line as well and make this a permanent change to have officers on board at night. I think you should equip officers with an app on their phones or have 1 officer and a private security or 2 officers combo so one with the laptop computer can verify who the person is that your giving a ticket too by facial reconzation by use of police data base the same one in the cop cars and verifying their info on police database I have seen my friends give an officer a fake name to someone who they know their information too and give that information to the officers so they wont have to pay the ticket and it wont be on their record if police can have an app on the phone or a portable laptop they can type the info on a computer like they have in their patrol cars to verify who you are.

Reply:  Thank you for your thoughtful suggestions. We do have the ability to run ID checks if we believe that our officers are being given bad information. We also continually evaluate our officer deployment, we will certainly take your recommendations into consideration.

North Natomas, CA:  Just yesterday, I read in the NextStop News that RT will be imposing schedule changes on many routes due to the opening of the Blue Line to Cosumnes River College. As an employee transportation coordinator for my workplace, I notified my Operations Manager of the mention in NextStop News that Route 13 will be undergoing schedule changes, in which we, at our workplace will feel the effects of such changes on Tuesday, September 8th, due to the Labor Day Holiday on September 7th. Currently, Route 13 departs Arden/Del Paso every hour at :23 after the hour. On September 8th, what time will that be changed to? Also, Route 13 currently departs Truxel at Gateway Park every hour at :59 after the hour. On September 8th, what time after each hour will that change to? While we understand that RT will do an online post of all the changes on July 13th, our workplace would like to get answers to our questions here since we will be having a monthly staff meeting on Friday the 10th of July. We normally hold our workplace staff meetings the first Friday of each month, but are closed today in observance of Independence Day being on Saturday. Thank you for your understanding in our situation that we are in.

Reply:  The trips from Arden/Del Paso won't change, but the trips from Truxel & Gateway Park will leave three minutes earlier, at :56 past the hour. You may also be interested to know that on weekdays, inbound trains at Arden/Del Paso will arrive 1 minute earlier, and outbound trains will arrive 5 minutes earlier. You will want to refer to an official timetable once they are released on, but hopefully, this will help.

sacramento, CA:  when will all stations have pay by credit/ debit fare boxes installed at every station and can you equip buses with the option to pay by credit/debit on rt buses it is easier to pat by the card then by cash sometimes

Reply:  RT currently has 13 credit/debit vending machines at light rail stations and will soon have a total of 21 at various key light rail stations along the system. There is no current plan to have them at every station, however the plan is to continue to increase the options for payments with the roll out of connect card in the near future. RT is currently looking into other methods of payments on the buses as well to give other options to customers including a mobile application for your phone.

Arden/Arcade Community, CA:  Earlier this week, Kaiser and Sacramento announced that the Northwest corner of the RailYard will be home to a new Kaiser Hospital. I further heard that this new hospital will replace the existing facility on Morse Avenue in the Arden/Arcade Community. Will this allow RT to afford the opportunity to "straighten" Route 80 and Route 84 onto Watt Avenue, rather than deviating between Butano and Arden, which is the case today?

Reply:  Thank you for your interest in potential changes to RT routes 80 and 84. RT is aware of the recently announced plan to locate a Kaiser hospital in the downtown Sacramento railyard area, and the associated change to the use of the Kaiser facility currently located on Morse Ave. While these facilities are unlikely to occur for several years, RT will consider changes to service with the change in use of the facility on Morse Ave. Please note that RT continually reviews route productivity and operating conditions to identify efficiencies and better ways to serve our community.

Folsom, CA:  What is the latest news regarding night service on the Gold Line into Folsom? Will we have to wait to September of Next Year if in fact late night hours in Folsom is more tied to the Grand Opening of the Golden One Center in Downtown Sacramento? Hopefully late night hours, with Folsom's blessing, can be implemented sooner, and that it is not necessarily tied to the Grand Opening of the Golden One Center.

Reply:  Thank you for you interest in and question concerning expanded light rail service to Folsom. Regional Transit works with the City of Folsom to establish light rail service levels to Folsom. RT and Folsom regular consider potential funding opportunities to expand service offerings to Folsom including extended light rail service hours; however, we do not currently have an approved time frame for implementation of expanded light rail service to Folsom. RT is also actively engaged in planning efforts for the Golden One Center which includes consideration of augmented light rail service. RT will be presenting the RT Board of Directors with preliminary information concerning service plans related to the Golden One Center at the end of July.

Citrus Heights, CA:  First of all, Happy New Year!! Like Regional Transit, I too work at a business that also started its New Year back on Wednesday. Hopefully the new year and a new budget are treating all at Regional Transit well. Speaking of the Regional Transit budget, how healthy is the Regional Transit budget in terms of service restoration? Specifically, I am referencing TransitRenewal. Will this budget, in particular, that you have only been in for about a couple of days now, allow for moving forward with another phase of the TransitRenewal Program? Where can riders like myself and my co-workers learn more as to where TransitRenewal is at currently, and what this fiscal year has in store in terms of how this program will be moving forward, as well as other service restoration initiatives you are considering between now and June 30, 2016?

Reply:  RT's Fiscal Year 2016 Budget was approved by the Board on June 22nd. The budget included minor adjustments to Bus service as well as the new South Line Phase 2 light rail extension which is scheduled to begin operations on September 6th. The budget does not include resources to add any more service for FY 2016 Transit Renewal is RT's long term plan for service restoration and expansion however all of the plan is subject to available funding.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  In a recent edition of your newsletter that you provide on buses and trains, I read about a pre-paid ticket exchange. I realize that that has already taken place. During the time it was happening, I read in the newsletter that this was the last ticket exchange ever that RT will do, and that if tickets are not used by June 30th of next calendar year (this fiscal year) they will lose their value completely, and will be useless for next fiscal year. On the other hand, through this chat in previous months, I have read that the Connect Card does not have a date yet for marketing or launch. What is the latest on the Connect Card? If it is still in stall and delay mode, will RT be able to exercise some flexibility as a "Plan B" if needed regarding the pre-paid tickets? My thought here was that Connect Card replaces pre-paid tickets.

Reply:  The Connect Card project is behind the planned schedule, RT staff has been working with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments who is the project manager for the connect card project as well as with the vendor on the project. RT plans to work though the issues and make the software and hardware of the connect card system work properly before it is rolled out by RT or other transit providers in the Region. If the Connect Card is not rolled out by the date of expiration of the pre-paid tickets, RT will provide outreach to customers regarding how the passes will be handled and how Plan B might work as you mentioned above.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  Folsom College is opening a new center across the street from the Mather/Mills RT station. Will the college opening affect parking at the Mather/Mills RT station

Reply:  It depends on what time most students arrive. Most light rail users arrive pretty early and take the spots they need for the day. We are excited to have a new Folsom Lake College branch right next to light rail, and it should increase our ridership; however, if our station guards observe that college students are taking all the parking to the point that it's keeping riders away, we can work with the college and take enforcement steps if necessary to assure that parking spaces remain available for light rail riders.

Laguna, CA:  Last month, CEO Mike Wiley said this about Elk Grove's response to cutting route 65 service into Elk Grove: "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." At the May 27 Elk Grove City Council meeting (and through my own follow up discussions with EG Transit Planning staff) the city stated clearly that the corridor served by the soon to be discontinued route 65 must be identified by SACOG as a "transit need." Otherwise, Elk Grove is under NO obligation to provide a replacement service for 65. Additionally, Elk Grove has assumed that SACOG has NOT identified that route as a "transit need" and will NOT provide a replacement service for 65.

Reply:  The unmet transit needs hearing process addresses the potential allocation of Transportation Development Act funding to uses other than transit operations and may be used to assist with establishing priorities for implementation of transit services. The associated hearings and public input process speak to then current service levels or known upcoming changes to service levels. Services are and may be provided by a local operator along corridors that have not been identified as an unmet need. The local operator, which is the city of Elk Grove within the city's jurisdictional boundaries, decide where to allocate resources for the provision of transit service.

west sacramento, CA:  Does RT have plans to cover all of the sacramento Valley with light rail services like Bart does in the bay I think RT needs to be like bart and have trains going everywhere in the sacramento valley just like they do in the Bay Bart should be RT poster child

Reply:  RT's long range transit plan, Transit Action iincludes plans to expand rail service in the Sacramento region. For more information about rail and other long-term plans for service expansion, please visit RT's website at and view the provided documents. Please note that RT's activated service boundaries do not currently include all portions of Sacramento County or any portions of other counties. RT does, however, work collaboratively with other jurisdictions and service providers to coordinate services and plan for future expansion of services, especially rail services. In general, we believe that Sacramento is best served by a mix of bus and light rail service. We are currently completing an extension to the Blue Line to CRC which will open later this summer. Our next rail extension is planned to the airport through Natomas. Advancing this project is dependent on obtaining additional funding to both construct and operate it. We do have significant plans for expanded bus service which is also dependent on an increase in funding to support its operation.

downtown sacramento , CA:  after the kings games will you have police officers on every train because as we all know after every sporting events there will be intoxicated fans expecially sinse there not driving they will drink more than they would. I dont really feel safe with the idea of taking RT to the kings games because of how it will be after the games because of the way drunk people act I believe there will be more fights stabings and crime on the light rail after the kings games if there are not police officers on the trains.

Reply:  We believe that light rail will not only be the fastest, most convenient, and most affordable way to get to the Golden One Center, but that it will actually be the most enjoyable. When we run special event trains to Sac City College for Republic FC matches, we find that we get large crowds full of people, and although many of them have been consuming alcohol, the mood on board the trains is actually extremely friendly and upbeat, but not to the point of being rowdy. I have seen a lot of parents and even grandparents with their kids, and the mood on the train and at the platform has always been very family-friendly. That being said, we will be increasing our security deployments for these events. Immediately after the event, the focus will actually be on the stations themselves in the downtown area, to keep people safe and help them find their way.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  When will the Refurbished ex VTA cars be running?

Reply:  RT's UTDC Light Rail Vehicle retrofit/refurbishment project is moving along well,. There are approximately 10 Trains that are currently being retrofit/refurbished that are in various phases. We will soon have three Trains completed, tested and in service to start running them on the Blue Line. The project includes the retrofit/refurbishment of 21 Trains in total, it is projected that all of them will in service by the December 2016 time frame, and will be used through out RT's light rail system.

sacramento, CA:  Does Rt leaders really read and take in suggestions and coments from us do you guys discuss these Transit talks after there done how do I know that this really makes changes

Reply:  Yes we do. We discuss and consider specific suggestions and also take note of the topics that people raise.

Sacramento, CA:  Will RT be addressing light rail scheduling and transferring once the Blue Line to CRC officially opens? I have noticed on weeknight evenings that when switching from a westbound Gold Line to a Northbound Blue Line, there is a 28-minute wait. On weekends, this switching is just a 13-minute wait. How will this be changing, if at all?

Reply:  I think you will be happy with the new schedule. The issue you mentioned about the poor evening connections between the Blue Line and the Gold Line at 16th Street has been an issue for some time and it will be fixed with the new schedule that will roll out on September 6 in conjunction with the opening of the Blue Line to CRC. We have been extremely busy in our Scheduling Department because a change in either of the light rail lines means many small changes to the schedules of every connecting bus line. We should be posting all the new schedule information later this month and we recommend all our riders check their routes to see what's changed.

sacramento, CA:  will the Refurbished ex VTA cars be running on the Gold Line ever?

Reply:  Yes, the plan is to deploy the Refurbished light rail trains throughout the RT light rail system, we expect them all to be completed and in service by the December 2016 time frame.

Folsom, CA:  For the new kings stadium can we have LR service to Folsom till 1am for NBA season

Reply:  RT's intent is to provide late night light rail service after NBA games and will have light rail trains in service after games to get customers to their destination, and this would include service on the gold line to Folsom. The actual time of service will depend on when the event is over more than a specific schedule.

Laguna, CA:  I'm an engineer and curious about the process of refurbishing the VTA cars. Can you say what is done to them or point to a website with some good info on the process?

Reply:  Send me an e-mail at and I can provide you with more information on the UTDC project.

Sacramento , CA:  Is there going to be any new buses serving route 81?

Reply:  Any RT vehicle, including the most recently received buses, may operate on any block of work where operating conditions may be regularly met by that vehicle type's operating characteristics. Vehicle type is sometimes constrained by operating conditions such as passenger loads and roadway width or turning radius along a route. RT does not have any approved or proposed service changes to Route 81 that would increase the resources currently allocated to this route. All recently approved and upcoming service changes to RT's system have been made on a cost-neutral basis. Furthermore, RT's recently approved budget for fiscal year 2016 does not provide for significant service expansion. RT regularly pursues additional and expanded funding sources and will consider this and other requests and identified needs when additional resources become available. RT completed a comprehensive operational analysis in 2012 that identifies near-term plans for service improvement. RT also uses its long range plan, TransitAction, as a guiding source for allocation of resources. For more information about these plans, please visit RT's website at

Foothill Farms , CA:  We are a fan of light rail. We attend bog meetings. We are supporting efforts to improve safety security and maintenance needs. We have been writing light rail for the past two weeks daily we're not seeing any ticket checks on the blue line from wat Avenue to downtown. Have reported non-working message sign at Saint Rose station and vandalism to ticket machine and connect card terminal at Roseville Road the 29th Street Station is filthy. When can we expect to see efforts to start fixing all this we are getting frustrated thank you

Reply:  First of all, thank you for taking an active interest in our system and reporting the problems that you observe while riding. RT will soon be providing our riders with a mobile phone app that will make reporting these problems much easier and will provide RT an immediate way to let you know that your observation has been received and to respond to you when it has been corrected. We have also started a program working with local business districts to help us with station cleaning and maintenance by working with them and funding cleaning crews that may already be working in the area to clean RT's stations as well. We hope that this will improve the cleanliness of our facilities and more efficiently use existing resources already working around our stations.

Laguna, CA:  So, in regards to Elk Grove and Unmet Transit needs, what you're saying and what Mike Wiley was saying last month was, basically, Elk Grove is responsible for Elk Grove public transit and because they opted to not replace route 65, anyone who relies on route 65 to get to Elk Grove and the Laguna area will be out of luck starting in September.

Reply:  Elk Grove's decision to leave RT in 2005 was based largely on a decision they made that if they took the money that had formerly gone to RT from their area, that they could run the service better themselves. That meant RT would no longer be responsible for service in Elk Grove, as you're saying. Route 65 was the one exception. Because about half the route was still in RT's service area, RT decided to just keep running this route, even though more than half of the route was actually in Elk Grove. With the opening of the Blue Line to CRC light rail extension and the new Franklin station, and with lots of other needs within RT's actual service area, we thought this was the right time to make a change to the route. Turning it around at the light rail station basically keeps the part of the route that is in RT's service area. Elk Grove is free to do what they want with the part that is (or was) in Elk Grove, and if they want to run it to the light rail station, that is fine too. We've been very happy to serve those riders, and we will miss them, but ultimately, it is a question of who receives the funds to provide the service.

Sacramento, CA:  What is the schedule for the DNA? I am looking forward to it!! Thanks

Reply:  Thank you for your interest in (and excitement about) expanding RT's Green Line. RT previously received funding to develop the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report (DEIR/S) and prepare information for the federal "New Starts" process. The purpose of this effort is to further develop and document the environmental issues and potential mitigation strategies while engaging the community in helping to refine the locally preferred alternative (LPA). This effort will continue through 2015. RT is also currently working with other agencies to pursue funding opportunities to continue the planning, environmental and design work necessary to build additional segments of the Green Line.

sacramento, CA:  is there plans to increase fair prices in the near future?

Reply:  RT's fare structure is a matter of Board policy and the RT Board is very sensitive to the impact on fare increases for RT's riders. At this point, there are no plans for a fare increase during FY 16.

Sacramento, CA:  Regional Transit is badly in need of some bus route changes. There needs to be more buses that connect with the light rail stations. Also, would you seriously consider improving the Bus Routes 2 and 3 with increased routes, (every 30 minutes Monday - Friday and service on the weekends). This will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your consideration and cooperation.

Reply:  Thank you for the suggestions.

Closing Remarks:
Thank you for your questions today. Next month, the chat will be held on Friday, August 7.