Another list of ideas for improving SacRT. This was developed as part of my work with 350Sac Transportation Committee, but again, the ideas are mine and not the committee’s.

SacRT issues

  • funding
    • SacRT is the most poorly funded transit system of its size in California; the limited amount provided by Sacramento Measure A (through the Sacramento Transportation Authority) is insufficient to operate a transit system
    • dependence on federal funds from most system enhancements and extensions means that the system has not kept up with either population growth or increased demand
  • leadership
    • the board, composed of only elected officials, provides poor oversight and leadership
    • management is weak, unwilling to explore innovative solutions and accepting of current limitations as permanent
  • light rail
    • has a poor reputation among many commuters
    • no evening service to Folsom
    • no service to American River College
    • high-floor rail cars are inaccessible to many people
  • bus network
    • buses are too infrequent to provide effective service, with no routes meeting the definition of high frequency and only four routes meeting the definition of medium frequency
    • routes deviate into neighborhoods in an attempt to maximize coverage, but the result is a loss of functionality and timeliness
  • land use
    • SacRT is ineffective in large part becuase land use decisions have resulted in an urban/suburban/exurban pattern that cannot effectively be served by a transit system
    • SacRT has little to no input into land use decisions
  • fare card system (ConnectCard)
    • the fare card system has been delayed for more than a year
    • there is no evidence that the fare card system will address equity issues such as low-income users without bank accounts and credit cards being able to purchase cards and passes
  • bike parking
    • the lack of secure bike parking at light rail stations and major bus stops reduces transit use and usability
    • SacRT has refused to provide on-demand bike lockers at stations, though Folsom has provided them at stations within the city

SacRT solutions

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I attended the Blue Line extension to Cosumnes River College (CRC) Grand Opening this morning at Meadowview station and then at CRC station. It was a lot of fun. There were more politicians in one place that I think I’ve seen, and they were justifiably proud of their part in supporting this extension, some having worked on it for years. [Photos on Flickr]

A number of speakers talked about linking the colleges, in this case Sacramento City College and Cosumnes River College. An increasing number of students apparently take classes at more than one campus in order to get the ones they need, so this extension is expected to help them, whether they don’t have a car or just choose to get around in a more convenient and more responsible way. Folsom Lake College’s Rancho Cordova Center is very close to the Mather/Mills light rail station. The Cosumnes River College’s Elk Grove Center will be on light rail if the Blue Line is extended to Elk Grove (Blue Line Phase 3). American River College’s Natomas Center will be on light rail if the Green Line is extended to Natomas. All of these connections are great, for students and for the community.

Unfortunately, American River College’s (ARC) main campus in North Highlands was barely mentioned. Brian King, Chancellor of Los Rios Community College District, said that ARC was served by a robust bus system. Unfortunately, that is not true. ARC is served by Route 1 (Greenback) on a 15 minutes frequency, and Route 82 (Howe-65th) on a 30 minute frequency, which is hardly robust service. Route 82 only runs until 9:30PM, missing students with later classes or who are staying to study, and who need to make connections to other buses or light rail to get back home.

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Houston has been in the news recently, and will certainly be today, opening day, for their revised transit system which created a network of high frequency (service every 15 minutes or better, 15 hours a day, 7 days a week) transit lines. The map below left shows this new system, only, and clicking goes to the high resolution image on the Houston METRO website. The map below right shows the entire system, with lines that don’t meet the high frequency definition. The system was redesigned with the help of Jarrett Walker, transit consultant and author of Human Transit, which I posted on yesterday and will be posting a lot more in the near future.

Houston METRO Frequent Network

Houston METRO System

So, what’s the story in Sacramento?

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SacRT is considering a number of extensions to the light rail system, beyond the opening of the Blue Line extension from Meadowview station to Cosumnes River College, which will occur August 24.

These are:

  1. lpa_mapGreen Line to the Airport, also known as DNA (Downtown, Natomas, Airport). This project is likely in two phases, first from the current end at Richards Blvd to somewhere in North Natomas, and second the rest of the way to the airport. Information on this project is on the SacRT website. This project is furthest along, and the draft EIS/EIR is now being prepared. The map of the “locally preferred alternative” is at right, and this links to the larger map on the SacRT website.
  2. Blue Line to Elk Grove. This project has been talked about, particularly as the line to CRC has approached completion and generated discussions of whether or not Elk Grove residents will be willing to change from bus to light rail at CRC. So far as I know, there are no publicly available documents on this extension, but it is included in the 2009 Transit Action Plan updated Scenario C (below).
  3. Blue Line Northeast Corridor. This project would extend the line to the northeast, to American River College, Citrus Heights, or Roseville. Though this project was part of the original vision of the light rail line when constructed back in the 1970s, it has not received much notice while I’ve been in Sacramento. So far as I know, there are no publicly available documents on this extension, but it is included in the 2009 Transit Action Plan updated Scenario C (below).

SacRT_TransitActionPlan-ScenarioC

Each of these extensions are worth exploring in detail, but for now I’m posting because I have two ideas I want to share.

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A summary of SacRT issues and my blog posts (even more): bicycle capacity on light rail: https://gettingaroundsac.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/bike-capacity-on-light-rail/ bicycle storage at light rail stations and bus transit centers: https://gettingaroundsac.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/bike-storage-at-light-rail/ level boarding for light rail: https://gettingaroundsac.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/level-boarding-with-low-floor-light-rail-cars/ funding: https://gettingaroundsac.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/improving-sacrt/ (more information about other funding options) station amenities: https://gettingaroundsac.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/a-thirst-for-working-water-fountains/ (other amenities to address) light rail extensions: https://gettingaroundsac.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/sacramento-region-transit-projects-in-2015/ (more analysis needed) [added SacRT light rail extensions] bus rapid transit: https://gettingaroundsac.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/sacramento-region-transit-projects-in-2015/ (much more detail needed) […]

Jim Brown wrote recently in the Sacramento Bee about underfunding for the city’s contractor to develop a new bike plan, and the plateauing of progress on bike mode share in the city. Please read! However, the issues go well beyond bicycling. Sacramento has stalled, period. We are no longer making forward progress towards livability. There […]

In the recently announced round of grants under the CalSTA Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program, SacRT received funding to refurbish the remainder of light rail vehicles from San Jose. The money is from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund using proceeds from the state’s cap-and-trade auctions. The statewide total was $224M. 7. Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT) […]