Bike capacity on light rail

Sportworks Interlock transit bike rack
Sportworks Interlock transit bike rack

The other item I want to talk about at the Unmet Transit Needs meeting today is bicycle capacity on SacRT’s light rail system. I’ve written about bikes on light rail previously, and won’t repeat that detailed post here, except to say again that SacRT is not meeting the needs of transit users with bicycles on the light rail system.

Sportworks makes two types of transit bicycle racks that could be used on SacRT light rail, the SwingLock and the Interlock. The SwingLock is basically an improvement to the bike rack hooks installed on the 200 series light rail cars, while the Interlock is a more complicated, more expensive, and more effective rack. I spoke to a Sportworks employee at ProWalk/ProBike last year, and he said they also design custom racks for transit systems where off-the-shelf solutions won’t work. I have family in Las Vegas, and when I’m visiting, I use the RTC-Southern Nevada transit system which has the Interlock installed in many of its newer articulated buses. The racks work great!

SACOG Unmet Transit Needs Hearing

I attended the SACOG final hearing on unmet transit needs. Apparently the process is repeated every year, so this is just the last one for this fiscal year. I spoke, as planned, on the unmet needs of bicyclists on light rail and level boarding with low floor light rail cars. Board member Steve Cohn welcomed me to attend the regular SacRT board meeting to talk about these concerns. He said that SacRT is working on these very issues, but since they haven’t publicized anything yet, I’m not sure what they are thinking and where in the process they are.

Only one other person spoke, mostly about disability access and connectivity between the many transit systems in the region.

I’m not sure whether the lack of testimony indicates that people think all the issues were addressed in the earlier hearings, or whether people didn’t know of the opportunity, or if there is a lack of interest. Though SacRT has clearly improved since the low point of 2010 when the system and service were decimated, there is a long ways to go to get back to base level and then to improve on it.

Level boarding with low floor light rail cars

SacRT light rail steep steps for bicyclist
SacRT light rail steep steps for bicyclist

Today in Sacramento will be the last of SACOG’s Unmet Transit Needs meetings. It will start at 9:30AM in the SACOG board room at 1415 L St, Ste 300, in downtown Sacramento, near the northeast corner of Capitol Park. In preparation for that meeting, I’m thinking about the things I’d like to talk about, particularly issues that I’m not sure that others will bring up. Those two are bicycles on light rail, and level boarding for light rail. I’ve said a bit about level boarding in my Portland post, but there is plenty more to say.

The SacRT light rail system has high floor cars. Both the older 100 series cars by Siemens Transportation Systems and the newer 200 series cars by Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) have high floors. People must navigate steep stairs from the ground to the car. Disabled people are accommodated by a high boarding platform, but with only one platform at each station (and none for southbound blue line at 12th & I station), those needing level boarding are restricted to one end of the lead car, and all other doors and cars exclude them. Many people who use the train don’t consider themselves disabled enough to use the high boarding platforms, yet struggle with getting up and down the steps. Many bicyclists also struggle with these steps. The handrails which are provided in the middle of the stairs to assist people with the steep steps are themselves part of the problem, as they block people who are carrying items such as strollers, groceries, luggage and bicycles. Continue reading “Level boarding with low floor light rail cars”

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. Continue reading “TransitRenewal and Route 1”