Sacramento Regional Transit (SacRT) has proposed service changes, primarily elimination of routes, most of which would go into effect January 2017, with a few before that and more after than. The proposal is available (summary chart after the jump), and a more detailed analysis is in the Board of Directors agenda (Item 13) for the May 23 meeting. At the May 23 board meeting, the service changes will be an informational item, not a decision. Five open houses on the service changes were scheduled, two of which have occurred, with three yet to go. I attended the open house at SacRT headquarters on May 17.
I was asked for my thoughts on the service changes. Below is a bullet summary, followed by the nerdy details.
- SacRT should make the boardings dot map available to the public. It is the best information I’ve seen to indicate which routes are productive, and which not, more understandable to the public than the tables of numbers in the proposal. Additionally, all maps showing routes, including of course the system map, should have an indication of the service frequency, either by color or weight. The “all routes looking the same” maps that SacRT currently uses do not communicate this critical piece of information.
- A portion of savings from elimination or combination of routes should be reinvested in other routes which could be moved from acceptable productivity to higher productivity with frequency, service hours, or routing improvements.
- Reductions in frequency are counter-productive, usually making a route with challenges into a failing route, which will then be identified in a future round of service changes for elimination.
- Routes serving low density residential and semi-rural areas should be cut before routes serving moderate to high density residential areas.
- Combining routes for more efficient coverage, particularly where routes overlap or are very closely parallel, is a good idea.
- Saturday service should be retained on all routes. Transit-dependent riders who work the usual weekday work week must have service on at last one weekend day so that they can grocery shop, visit friends and family with less mobility, and seek medical care.
- Routes should not be eliminated for at least two years after creation or significant revision. Time is needed to see ridership trends once people in a community adjust to the service. Specifically, this means: do not eliminate Route 65 Franklin South.
- The concept that routes should focus on light rail connections rather than radial routes to downtown, or point-to-point routes, should be considered in all route decisions.
- SacRT should do a complete system re-visioning within the next four years. A series of cuts, and even transit renewal, has left a system that is inefficient and probably unjust. It should be redesigned from scratch.