Transit Talk with the General Manager

December 04, 2015
Mike Wiley, General Manager/CEO
General Transit Questions
Opening Remarks:
Transit Talk with the General Manager will be live today from noon to 1 p.m. We are accepting questions now through the end of the chat.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Before we begin today, I would like to thank everyone who attended the Green Line to the Airport community open house meetings and/or provided feedback regarding the proposed changes to the St. Rose of Lima Park (7th & K) light rail station.

The Green Line to the Airport will extend the existing Green Line light rail service from the 7th & Richards/Township 9 light rail station on Richards Boulevard to the Sacramento International Airport and provide vital connections to various locations throughout Sacramento, including the Natomas communities.

The project is entering the environmental phase and RT held three meetings this week that offered an opportunity for the public to provide comments related to the potential environmental effects of the project. Information is also available online at or by emailing

I also appreciate the hundreds of people who took the time to provide their feedback regarding possible changes to the St. Rose of Lima Park (7th & K) light rail station by filling out RT's survey. We are in the process of analyzing the results and a report will be presented at the RT Board of Directors meeting on Monday, December 14, about the outreach efforts and the next steps in the process.

This month, I also would like to remind everyone that RT's Holiday Bus has returned to thank passengers who ride the system and to give back to the community as a whole. Free to passengers, the Holiday Bus is operating on different routes in the Sacramento region through Sunday, January 3, 2016.

In lieu of fare, monetary donations and non-perishable food items are being collected on the bus to benefit River City Food Bank, a non-profit organization that provides emergency food and housing assistance in Sacramento County.

The Holiday Bus schedule can be found here.

Finally, RT will once again offer extended light rail service on New Year's Eve to encourage celebrants to take transit to the multiple events scheduled in our region. The Blue Line and Gold Line will both have special trips added to the schedule to accommodate attendees ringing in the new year and the specifics will be posted at early next week.

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

Citrus Heights , CA:  Instead of the 30 being extended why don't you extend route 11 and 88? Why is it talking so long to extend the Green line to Sac Intl airport?

Reply:  Hopefully you were able to attend one of the three open houses this week on the Green Line. Probably the number one issue with the Green Line has been funding. RT has adhered to a program of applying for federal New Starts grants to fund its major light rail extensions. The New Starts program is very competitive to get into, but if you are accepted, it pays for half the construction costs. Places like Salt Like City and Denver where they have rapidly expanded their rail systems have done so with a great deal more local tax dollars than are available to us in Sacramento. Here in Sacramento, we have taken a more gradual approach that is less costly to taxpayers, but that has meant a lot more waiting in the pipeline. As difficult as it is to get into the New Starts program, it is even more rare for the Federal Transit Administration to allow one region to have multiple projects in the program. For RT, finishing the Blue Line, as it was originally designed, so that it runs all the way to Cosumnes River College, has been our Board's long-standing top priority, but now that the CRC extension is open for service, there's more ability to get the Green Line lined up for major funding. It is important to note that in order To fund the Green Line we will need to have a significant increase in local funding.

Sacramento, CA:  I am concerned about the lack of enforcement of no smoking at stations. Most signs mentioning it currently are small and not noticeable. Furthermore there are no security and when there are no one will enforce it. Will this situation improve?

Reply:  We are engaged in active enforcement of the no smoking ordinance with police, plain clothes officers and transit officers. This week our transit officers spent several hours just focused on no smoking. It is important to note that the no smoking rule is only on station platforms and bus structures. Many of our stations share public sidewalks where we are not able to enforce. We encourage calls to our operations center at 556-0275, when a person is in violation and our guards are not addressing the issue.

Sacramento, CA:  When does the new policy that the board voted on giving RT the ability to remove people who play loud music, who aren't clothed above and below the waist or who are sleeping, (minus the smelly passengers) October 26th go into effect? It said immediately, but have not seen any department notice letting us operators know if these new rules not anyone enforcing these policies. Also, I heard this policy included passengers must have "soled shoes" as footwear. Does this include passengers in wheelchairs?

Reply:  We have made some notification to our guards on the new rules which the guards, officers and transit inspectors are passing out to riders. We've directed staff to gently remind people of the new ordinances/rules but won't begin full enforcement until after the 1st of the year to give some time for customer education.

Sacramento, CA:  I feel the focus towards downtown and towards getting new ridership for those more well off is the wrong way to go. How will you allocate and distribute towards all demographics and income brackets?

Reply:  The Golden 1 Arena and the potential for new ridership is an excellent opportunity for RT. New, increased ridership leads to increased revenue and that is a benefit to all RT riders. That being said, RT remains focused on the system as a whole. Many of the light rail improvements that are planned over the next year span from downtown through the entire system. RT is committed to its loyal ridership, and to developing new ridership, without regard to demographics and income.

Rancho Cordova, CA:  When is "real time" information coming to rail, and will riders soon be able to track a train like they can now track a bus?

Reply:  I'm glad you like the ability to have real time information on our bus service. The vendor developing the real time train system has had quite a few delays in solving some of the challenges that have come up during our test period. The vendor and RT staff are testing the solution in pilot mode at this time. Our goal is to have the new system live by fall of 2016.

North highlamds, CA:  The watt i80 light rail elevators break down all the time minium once a week whats the plan when they will be replaced

Reply:  We have created a capital project to design a full upgrade to the Watt-I80 light rail station which will replace the elevators. Staff has also contracted for on call elevator repairs with a local vendor to speed up the response time for repairs.

sacramento, CA:  Would you provide an update on Connect Card and the mobile app that allows paying fares using the app, please? Thank you.

Reply:  The Connect Card consortium will begin testing the Connect Card system for go live readiness next week. Testing is scheduled to be complete in mid-January. If the system passes, we will begin a phased implementation once any issues discovered in the final test are resolved. My hope is that the mobile application will be available in the Apple Store and at Google Apps on by the middle of this month. The application will be listed as RideSacRT in both stores and is free to download. Customers will be able to buy single ride tickets and day passes using the mobile application (RideSacRT). Instruction on how to use the application will be available soon on RT's website ( Staff is currently being trained to support

Sacramento, CA:  I have read many past "Transit Talk" Sessions, and continually see you and your staff refer to a concept called a "Connect Card" of all things. What month is it appearing that this will be a feature riders in Sacramento and surrounding transit systems will be able to take full advantage of, versus today's paper based fare structure? I hope really soon, if you want my "two cents" worth.

Reply:  The Connect Card consortium will begin testing the Connect Card system for go live readiness next week. Testing is scheduled to be complete in mid-January. If the system passes, we will begin a phased implementation once any issues discovered in the final test are resolved. My hope is that the mobile application will be available in the Apple Store and at Google Apps on by the middle of this month. The application will be listed as RideSacRT in both stores and is free to download. Customers will be able to buy single ride tickets and day passes using the mobile application (RideSacRT). Instruction on how to use the application will be available soon on RT's website ( Staff is currently being trained to support.

Sacramento, CA:  How does RT determine on-time performance? (data source) How does the 4-5 min late allowance impact high-frequency service, such as the 51 and 30? I get doubled up buses semi-frequently. Does RT have the resources to monitor the trip tracker to improve on-time performance? Thank you for recent bus cleanings, it was getting out of hand.

Reply:  We're glad that you've noted clean vehicles recently and appreciate the acknowledgement. As you may know, all transit services that operate in mixed-flow traffic are subject to the same fluctuations in travel time experienced by those traveling by personal automobile. Scheduling time that would almost always ensure arrival at time points within a shorter range than five minutes would lead to inefficient schedules and increased (and often unnecessary) travel time for passengers. As such, RT considers arrivals at time points that occur 5 minutes or more after the scheduled arrival time as "late" much like many other transit agencies. The data used to estimate on-time performance is gathered from on-board vehicle location with real-time and scheduled information tools. RT regularly compiles and presents information about on-time performance by route. RT's Scheduling Department regular monitors on-time performance and attempts to make adjustments as resources allow and is warranted. RT's definition of "late" services does not directly impact trips arriving around the same time at the same location on high frequency services.

Citrus Heights, CA:  Regarding 7th & K Station, will the Regional Transit District Board need to formally take up the matter of whether to close it or not, or can RT make a decision like this just at the employee and/or management level? If this matter has to go to the Board, what meeting date, if any, has been set for this matter?

Reply:  The decision of whether or not to close the 7th & K Station will be made by the RT Board after an opportunity for public input. The issue is still being evaluated and no date has been set for the Board to consider station closure.

Sacramento/Elk Grove, CA:  When will the Connect Transit Cards go live?

Reply:  The Connect Card consortium will begin testing the Connect Card system for go live readiness next week. Testing is scheduled to be complete in mid-January. If the system passes, we will begin a phased implementation once any issues discovered in the final test are resolved.

Sacramento/Elk Grove, CA:  Will the SacRT have an eBook (iOS) version of their timeable booklet?

Reply:  Making the Bus and Light Rail Timetable book available as an e-book is a great idea. I'll ask our marketing and communications staff to look into what needs to be done to make it happen. In the meantime, we do offer a PDF version of the book online at

sacramento, CA:  With the recent incidents in san bernardino ca, now being looked at as a terrorist activity has Regional Transit taken extra steps to ensure riders continued safety

Reply:  The recent incidents around the world is a continual reminder on the need to be vigilant. Our "See it, Hear it, Report it" campaign continues to be our biggest asset. We need our riders to report suspicious persons and activity. Our Police Services Unit continues to train with regional partners to respond to major incidents on the system. In the next two months, we have two trainings related to how to respond to a major incident on a train. Our new mobile reporting application is also moving forward in the design phase and should assist our riders with reporting incidents.

Sacramento, CA:  Why was the 72 changed in September so it doesn't connect to light rail properly when light rail departure times at Mather/Mills and Watt/Manlove were not changed? At both light rail stations on its route, it always misses the connection to the Sunrise/Folsom bound train by a minute and going Downtown I have a long wait for my train because the bus was changed to arrive 10-15 minutes earlier.

Reply:  This issue was raised previously, and we have looked into it. We don't currently see a way to fix your issue without making other connections worse, but will continue to consider options to modify the schedule as they arise.

Folsom, CA:  I attended the Sacramento City Council on Tuesday and witnessed the 8-0 unanimous decision in favor of the Sacramento Republic FC term sheet. What would RT and its partners need to do to finance, construct, open, and operate a Railyards Boulevard/MLS Stadium Green Line Station by March of 2018? March of 2018, by the way, was mentioned several times at Tuesday's Meeting in the City Staff presentation.

Reply:  RT is in the process of completing environmental and early engineering work on an extension of the Green Line from the current terminal at Richards Blvd. to South Natomas. As you probably know, the Green Line is already built and in operation to Richards Blvd., and the tracks are adjacent to the future stadium site, so we would just need to add a station. That station is already in the plan for the Green Line extension, which is one of the reasons the stadium site is a great location That also means we already have some of the preliminary work in process. We've budgeted between $3.8 to 5.0 million for several comparable stations, which includes some of the design and environmental work that's already in process on the Railyards station. It's our plan to have the Railyards station open in time for when games begin.

CA:  I understand that Regional Transit, with the support of elected officials, is proposing to relocate the light rail trains from K Street to H Street. While three blocks seems like short distance, it appears this proposal would remove transit from the heart of Downtown Sacramento. It would force transit riders to walk further to reach businesses and entertainment venues on K Street, the Convention Center and Capitol Park. There are many reasons to be concerned about the removal of transit from K Street – not the least of which is ridership losses from unnecessarily forcing people to walk longer in the heat and in inclement weather. The Cathedral Square Station on K Street alone serves about 2,000 boarding and alighting passengers on an average weekday. If even some of these people switched back to cars, the additional driving would have a direct impact on the environment through more greenhouse gas pollution. As importantly, a large proportion of Sacramento transit riders are low-income and people of color. What Regional Transit and the City of Sacramento are doing is removing the transit-dependent and a growing number of transit-choice riders from Downtown. This raises serious equity and Title VI concerns – do transit-dependent and transit-choice riders have the basic right of access to the city and the region’s hub as drivers do?

Reply:  RT has supported plans to relocate the Blue Line from K Street to H Street. This has been incorporated into the plans for the Downtown Riverfront Streetcar, which would use K Street. It would definitely be a tradeoff, but we don't necessarily think that relocating the Blue Line to H Street would be bad for ridership. For persons going to the County, to the jail, to the County Courthouse, to City Hall, or to other nearby destinations, it would be more direct, but it obviously would be less convenient for persons going to or from the Convention Center and nearby offices. Also, the ridership at Cathedral Square is also only about 750 boardings per weekday, not 2,000. Our busiest station is 16th Street, which has over 3,700 boardings per day. Relocating light rail to H street would be done in conjunction with dedicating the existing tracks on K street to the new River Front Street Car. The street car will operate on K street from 7th to 12th streets with service as far east as 19th street traveling on J and L streets.

Sacramento/Elk Grove, CA:  I really like the new RT Lightrail Trains. They almost looked like the Lightrail Trains from Santa Clara VTA. I know because I have rode on the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority trains when I go to San Jose.

Reply:  Wow, you really know your light rail trains! The "new" RT trains are, in fact, refurbished VTA trains.

Sacramento/Elk Grove, CA:  Would you be able to provide information (if there) if RT will be expanding into Elk Grove and goes East on Cosumnes Blvd./Calvine Road from Cosumnes River College?

Reply:  Transit in Elk Grove is provided by e-Tran, which is the name of the transit service operated by the City of Elk Grove. RT used to serve Elk Grove, but they decided to run their own system starting in 2005. Calvine Road, at least the part east of Highway 99, actually forms the boundary of RT and Elk Grove's service areas. Elk Grove does run some buses here, which continue on into other parts of Elk Grove. RT does not have any plans to add service there.

Sacramento , CA:  Every other major city has a rail line to their airport. This isnt really a question but its not a transit system till you connect your airport. I think it should be priotitized. You're sure to service more travers.

Reply:  It sounds like you must have missed the open houses we held earlier this week! This was actually addressed in a response to an earlier question as well.

Sacramento, CA:  I am active on social media, and have been reading on various platforms about something referred to as "FAST Act" among other things. What is this as it relates to transportation, and how would California Transit Systems including but not limited to the three California Intercity Amtrak Rail Corridors benefit. I often ride from Sacramento to the Silicon Valley and/or Sacramento to stops in the San Joaquin Valley, so "FAST Act" as I have been reading, has sparked my interest, so I am looking to RT for some "expert" analysis on this matter. Thank you.

Reply:  On Dec 3, the House passed a five year, $305 billion transportation reauthorization Conference Report by a vote of 359-65. The Senate may consider the legislation later today and the White House has indicated that the President would sign the measure. Titled the "Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act", the Conference Report is fully funded through September 2020. The total authorized funding for FTA programs increases to $11.789 billion in FY16 and rises to $12.592 billion by FY20, or $61.113 billion over the life of the bill. This represents a 10.23% increase in year one, and 17.74% by FY20. The General Fund portion of the authorization increases by 16.28% in FY16 and remains flat for the remainder of the bill.

Some additional details:

Capital Investment Grants are authorized at approximately $2.3 billion in FY16 and each year thereafter, which is a 20.7% increase over the MAP-21, but the level remains flat over the five years of the bill.

The legislation reinstates a bus and bus facilities competitive grant program that would grow from $268 million in 2016 to $344 million by 2020 and includes a $55 million per year set-aside for low and no emission buses.

As in both the House and Senate-passed bills, the Conference agreement increases the Buy America content requirement for transit rolling stock from the current level of 60% to 65% in 2018 and 70% by FY20. The Conference Report also maintains maximum Section 5309 federal share of 80% for core capacity and small start projects. The Conference Report does, however, change current law for New Starts full funding grant agreements by reducing the maximum Section 5309 FFGA share allowed by law from 80% to 60%. Other federal funds, including the Surface Transportation Program (STP) within the Federal Highway Programs, can still be used to supplement full funding grant agreements up to 80%.

Comments from Mike Wiley: 

Thank you for participating today. Out next chat will be held in the new year on Friday, January 8, 2016. Happy holidays!