TransitRenewal and Route 1

Sacramento Regional Transit (SacRT) is working on a project that they call TransitRenewal. It is an effort to rebuild the transit system that existed prior to 2010 when it was decimated by cuts. People who live in the downtown/mid-town/EastSac area mostly notice that the system stops running very early in the evening, but people who live in the more outlying area of the regional suffer from the full extent of the decimation. Signs that say “temporarily no bus service” are found along arterial streets everywhere, as many the routes simply don’t exist anymore. SacRT wants to bring back the most useful of these routes, as well as to extend the schedule by about two hours, ending soon after 11 instead of soon after 8.

The next event in the TransitRenewal process is a hearing on Monday, March 26, starting at 6:00PM, at the RT Auditorium at 1400 29th St, Sacramento. I encourage you to take a look at the website, pick one or a few routes of importance to you, and then go to the hearing and speak about these routes. SacRT hearings are often lightly attended, so your voice has a impact than you’d think. If you can’t attend the hearing, you can comment online, by phone, or at some less formal outreach opportunities.

SacRT was also involved in an effort by Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) to document Unmet Transit Needs. As part of both these processes, I investigated the current situation and possible improvement of several routes that I am concerned about. I recently posted about how to improve bicycle access on light rail, and below are my thoughts about Route 1, which runs from McClelland to Sunrise Mall in the northeast suburbs of Sacramento county.

Route 1

I use route 1 from the Watt/I-80 Light Rail station to the east nearly every day. Below are my observations and suggestions for improvement.

a. Crowding: This bus serves a very significant number of American River College students, and during the “rush” hours for ARC, the bus is often full. At least once a week, the bus is so full that people are turned away, both at Watt/I-80 stop and at ARC. This route needs to operate on a 15-minute interval, at least during ARC hours and days, as 20-minute is not sufficient to carry meet the demand.

b. Bicycle Capacity: I have seen a large number of people get turned away from this bus for lack of bicycle capacity. About one-third of the buses have only two-slot bicycle racks. All the buses on this route should have 3-slot racks. A greater frequency will partially solve this issue.

c. Purpose: Most of the small number of passengers coming from the north to the Watt/I-80 stop get off there, and most of the large number of passengers heading east get on there. It does not make sense to me to run this route to McClelland, which could effectively be served by another route. The same is true heading west. This route should originate and terminate at Watt/I-80 so that the capacity can be used most effectively.

d. Transition to BRT and LRT: Route 1 from Watt/I-80 to ARC, along Auburn and Greenback to Sunrise Mall, is the next logical location for dedicated transit. The route should first be converted to a bus rapid transit (BRT) route with dedicated lanes and signal priority. It should be extended from Sunrise Mall to the Folsom light rail station, so that it makes a loop. The areas of Folsom and Orangevale are underserved by RT, and many people who live in Folsom work along the Greenback corridor and in Roseville, but there is no service in this area. A route 1 BRT would meet this need, and the corridor could eventually be converted to a light rail segment. It may be that the revised route should use the platform level at the Watt/I-80 station, rather than the Watt level.

proposal for enhanced route 1, light rail to Folsom

As a result of suggestions from myself and others, RT has included some improvements in their draft TransitRenewal plan. Route 1 would run from the Watt/I-80 transit center rather than McClelland. It would still terminate at Sunrise Mall, but route 24 would be restructured to run from there to Historic Folsom light rail, completing the loop. The frequency would be improved to 15 minutes, and the length of service expanded on both weekdays and weekends.

Overall, I think TransitRenewal is proposing a well thought out enhancement of the system. It can be further improved with input from the community. So please do comment to RT, and here as well.

Author: Dan Allison

Dan Allison is a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in the Sacramento area. Dan dances and backpacks, as much as possible.

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