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Sacramento Transit Advocates and Riders (STAR)

increase ridership and expand accountability

Transit 101 Budget Workshop (2 of 2)

Transit 101 is sponsored by 350 Sacramento and is the educational arm of the transit community. Hosted by Glenda Marsh and Joann Fuller, the recent budget workshop provided information from SacRT staff and community discussion. To be notified of future workshops, email Glenda at marshmellow8562 at yahoo.com. These will also be posted here when we remember, and on our calendar. You can see our previous Transit 101 posts and yesterday’s post on the workshop that included five slides of interest.

Henry Li, SacRT’s General Manager, led off with an overview. He related the Strategic Vision board meeting in February where the board seemed very supportive, and some board members asked to go beyond what staff was suggesting. SacRT has asked Sacramento Transportation Authority, the entity which developed the failed Measure B, to hold off on their project list until SacRT has a chance to do community outreach, ongoing, and surveying to occur soon, so that SacRT can provide a better project list. SacRT will ask for 1/3 of a cent, which if the future measure is the same levy as the last, would be 2/3 of the measure, for a total transit allocation of 1/2 cent combining Measure A and the future measure. The most telling graphic for this issue is the peer comparison chart.

David Goldman, SacRT’s Director of Management & Budget, presented the 2017 expenditure budget, which totals $162.5 million. The biggest category by far is salaries and benefits, as is true of almost any organization. A similar but not same chart is below (this one from the 2016/17 budget document). He also presented the state of good repair document and talked about some of the items on it.

 

Brent Bernegger, SacRT’s Chief Financial Officer, presented on revenue sources. Fares provide 19%. State and local funding, which includes Measure A, is the largest at 53%. The federal contribution, which SacRT uses almost entirely for operations, provide 21% but is the amount very much on everyone’s mind with the uncertainty in the president and Congress. There are indications that too many politicians loves grand infrastructure projects, but don’t much like transit and rail, and don’t think the federal government should fund operations at all. There are federal regulations about fares that require half price discount fares for certain rider categories at certain times, but SacRT goes above those minimums. Some social service agencies purchase passes at a discount and distribute them to clients. Some large state agencies buy bulk passes and get a 60% discount. Smaller state agencies and others don’t get a discount but provide passes to employees at a discount. There are programs for Los Rios Community College System and school districts. Free and reduce lunch program students can get 75% off passes. It is possible for a tax measure revenue source to subsidize fares so that the state-required fare recovery standards are still met, but the failed Measure B did not propose that. The chart below is from the 2016/17 budget document, not from the presentation.

 

James Drake, SacRT’s Service Planner, presented the existing and potential expanded service and frequency maps. He talked about how the light rail network is the backbone of the entire system, both in original design, current use, and future expansion. These two maps are also on the previous budget workshop post.

There were several other SacRT senior staff in attendance, both to listen and to answer specific questions as they came up.

These presentations were followed by a long question, answer, and statement period. It is difficult to capture all of this, so the list below is some of the topics, and some of the answers, not comprehensive

  • Henry Li said which light rail extensions are prioritized is a community decision (it wasn’t in the past)
  • Steven asked about other revenue sources including payroll tax
  • Henry Li mentioned downtown circulator, also mentioned distance based fares
  • staff confirmed that tax measures can subsidize fares so that they still meet the state 23% fare recovery standard
  • mobile app was developed for free but required a lot of staff support (Passport is vendor); now have a revenue share of 7%, will be another vendor later (didn’t catch name) with 2% share
  • Tamie asked what the total cost of fare collection is, both internal RT and external other agencies; answer is that it is significant but no known
  • Dan asked about Measure B TEP lack of detail for RT and distinction between capital and operations/maintenance; Henry said there will be more detail in next measure
  • six month pilot Uber, etc. is near end, was funded with a GGRF grant (Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund); original goal was for events, but is now any day, any time
  • SacRT is going to do a survey before the new measure goes up, but didn’t specify when (the newly formed Sacramento Transit Riders Union is also doing a rider survey which will contribute to a clearer definition of needs)
  • Russell talked about how riders and transit dependent are not part of the conversation
  • Dan mentioned 350 Sacramento Community Forum on Carbon Zero, and how it fits into our concerns about transit and the forming Sacramento Transportation Choices coalition, but people need more info
  • discussion about how to have an influence on Sacramento Transit Authority (SacTA), Patrick Kennedy is new chair and may take a more progressive approach, Henry Li said the SacTA board realizes there were issues not addressed in planning for the failed Measure B

There will probably be more information available from Transit 101 in the near future.

Transit 101 Budget Workshop

Transit 101, sponsored by 350 Sacramento, held a budget workshop with SacRT staff last night. A summary will be provided shortly, but in the meanwhile, here are five slides used in the presentation which were also in the Strategic Vision presentation. Though these are key slides, hopefully the entire presentation from last night will be available later. Thanks for the reminder, DD.

 

May 13 Community Forum on Carbon Zero

Please save the date of Saturday, May 13 for the Community Forum: Leading the Way to Carbon Zero. This event, led by 350 Sacramento, will take place at McGeorge School of Law, 9:00am to 3:00pm. The keynote will be by Alex Steffen, author of Carbon Zero: Imagining Cities That Can Save the Planet.

The 350 Sacramento Town Hall in November 2015 breakout session on transportation led to the creation of Sacramento Transit Advocates and Riders (STAR). This Community Forum will see the next step along the way to a better transportation future with a breakout devoted to the formation of a transportation advocacy coalition, whose interim name is Sacramento Transportation Choices. A team of advocates is defining principles for transportation in the four areas of environment & health, accountability & transparency, equity & accessibility, and ridership. These principles will be shared as soon as they are in strong draft stage, and the people who convene around transportation at the Forum will work to refine these so that all advocates for strong investment in walking, bicycling and transit can sign on. The coalition will use the principles to either improve the next Measure B tax measure, or to oppose it if the regressive car-centric investments cannot be reversed.

Members of the STAR Action Team are prominent participants in developing the transportation principles, but a number of other organizations and individuals are contributing. Now that we have a strengthening voice for transit in STAR, joining the existing walking (WALKSacramento) and bicycling (Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates SABA), it is time to bring together a strong voice for transportation investments that lead to stronger communities and economic vibrancy, rather than climate and air pollution, congestion, and carnage that characterize our past investments and were the heart of the failed Measure B.

A Forum planning committee is developing details and these will be shared here as well as on the 350 Sacramento website. The Sacramento Transportation Choices principles will also be shared here. Put the date on your calendar and stay tuned!

ConnectCard Daily Best Fare

[From Connect Transit Card emai] Introducing the Connect Card “Daily Best Fare” on Regional Transit. Connect Card users on RT will no longer have to purchase Daily Passes up front*. Riders can now tap on bus or train validators for each ride and the appropriate single-ride fare will be deducted from the card’s cash value. The total amount of money withdrawn from the card will be a daily maximum equal to the cost of a day pass. For example:

* If card holders wish to use their Connect Card to ride multiple transit agencies within one calendar day, they must continue to buy an RT Daily Pass on their Connect Card.

Also, from the email: “Elimination of “Tap Off” for Regional Transit Customers
RT will now only require riders to “Tap On” with Connect Card. There is no need to “tap off” when exiting the bus or light rail train. RT’s single ride light rail ticket will be valid for 90 minutes. Riders who are boarding multiple trains within 90 minutes will be asked to tap on prior to each boarding; however, they will only be charged once (the first tap) during the 90 minute time frame.” However, though the bus exit readers (at the rear door) always said “tap off,” tapping off or not never made any difference in the fare charged.

Sacramento loses out on parking near transit

Friday the “March Madness” parking craters near transit contest started, with Sacramento matched against St. Louis. Unfortunately/fortunately, Sacramento was eliminated in the first round. Jim Adams submitted Sacramento, based on all the state parking lots around the Archives Plaza and 8th & O light rail stations. These parking lots are not dedicated to people using light rail, but instead are dedicated to people not using light rail, so this is not the same issue as parking at light rail stations. But the point is well taken, valuable property wasted on surface parking, for the benefit of people who have transit at the front door of their office, but choose instead to drive. These surface lots are free for state workers, though I am not sure whether the garages are or not.

Yes, the headline is intentional. We lost the competition, but we lose every day that we have excess, free parking in areas with good transit service.

LA Flyaway airport service

STAR has been exploring methods of providing service to Sacramento airport (SMF) that are less costly and might provide better service than the $2B plus Green Line to the Airport. So far we have focused on enhancing the existing Yolobus hourly service (42B) to 15-minute service with more hours of coverage. The Los Angeles FlyAway service is an alternate model.

FlyAway is operated by Los Angeles World Airports, a department of the City of Los Angeles, rather than by the transit agency Metro. It offers six routes into the airport, with one-way fares ranging from $8 to $10. Some starting points are parking lots with $4/day parking, some are at or near transit stations, and some just have pick-up points. FlyAway is operated to “mitigate traffic congestion and air pollution in the area surrounding LAX airport,” and it also reduces pressure on limited parking at the airport. LAX is the second-busiest airport in the country. Routes use both full size buses with under-coach luggage storage and small bus/vans with smaller capacity and more limited luggage storage. FlyAway used to have three more routes, but these were dropped for low ridership.

Public transit has been creeping closer and closer to LAX over the years, as light rail is extended, but even when the Crenshaw line is completed, there will still be a transfer necessary to reach the terminals, via a connector that has not been completely designed.

Sacramento is the 42nd busiest airport, and does not overall suffer from parking supply. Would Sacramento Airport (SMF), operated by Sacramento County, even be interested in providing service?

There are arguments to be made for airport service operating independently of the transit system, the main one being that it can serve or not serve areas depending on whether the ridership demand is there, or not. A key issue for the Sacramento region is service from the Roseville area (and beyond: Rocklin, Auburn, etc.). There is poor connectivity at present between Roseville Transit, Placer County Transit, and SacRT, so a service that does not depend upon existing systems might make real sense.

parking at light rail stations

SacRT provides parking at several light rail stations, charging a dollar per day. Streetsblog is just starting the annual “It’s Parking Madness Time — Send Us Your Parking Disasters!” contest, this year with a focus on excess parking at transit stations. So we looked into the parking capacity at various SacRT light rail stations. We compared boardings (from the SacRT quarterly ridership report), parking spaces, and bus service. Many people arrive at stations via bus routes, and some by walking and bicycling, so boardings does not equate to parking spots. We looked around the see if there are any standards for parking and boardings, but so far haven’t found anything.

The chart below only includes some stations, and only the Blue Line (Gold Line yet to come). Graphed is boardings (blue bar) and parking spaces (green bar) which are on the same scale and are actual numbers. The yellow bar is an estimate of bus service at stations, with 15-minute buses counting 4, 30-minute buses counting 2, and 60-minute buses counting 1, all multiplied by 100 so that it shows up on the same scale. This is an arbitrary number, again without reference to a standard, but it is an important measurement because bus service can largely replace parking, and a station with no or poor bus service will need parking. When bars are zero, there is no parking (no green bar), or no bus service (no yellow bar).

Continue reading “parking at light rail stations”

Yolobus to the airport

yolobus_logoSacRT does not provide service to the Sacramento Airport, but Yolobus does! Yolobus drops off passengers in front of Terminal A and Terminal B.

STAR encourages you to use this service. Sure, a frequency better than 60 minutes, and later service, would be desirable, but it will only get better if people use it and demand better service. So hop on!

From Sacramento, catch Route 42B (counterclockwise) at L and 13th (Sacramento Community Center Theater) or other stops in the downtown area (see map below). 42B service runs every 60 minutes from 5:05AM to 10:05PM on weekdays, and from 6:05AM on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. The trip is about 25 minutes.

From Davis and Woodland, catch Route 42A (clockwise). The service runs about hourly from 4:55AM to 9:30PM weekdays, and every 60 minutes from 7:30AM on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays.

The regular fare is $2.25 one way, and the discounted fare for seniors, disabled and students is $1.10 one way. If you have an SacRT monthly pass, you can ride for free. It is not clear whether SacRT daily pass or ConnectCard provides free or discount fare.

For comparison, taxis cost about $43. Uber costs $14 to $70, depending on type of service. Lyft costs $13 to $29. Driving yourself is $6.50 at IRS mileage rates plus parking at $10 to $29 per day, depending on how far from the terminal you want to be and how long you stay. Of course you can get a friend to drop you off, but that makes for two round trips, and be assured it is costing your friend the same as it would cost you. So why drive when you can bus?

Note: The 42A/42B buses have limited luggage storage areas, and it can be difficult to get large, heavy or awkward luggage on and off, so you may want to give it a test run to see how it will work for you.

For more information call Yolobus at 530-666-2877, or from West Sacramento 916-371-2877, or rural Yolo county 1-800-371-2877, or TTY 530-666-5842, or yolobus.com.

route-42a-42b-overview-map

SacRT Strategic Vision presentation

As we’ve already announced, SacRT will be hosting a workshop board meeting next Monday on Strategic Vision. General Manager Henry Li will present on a new short term and long term vision for SacRT.

We hope that you can attend the meeting, which is 9:00AM to about noon on Monday, February 27, at the usual board meeting location, 1400 29th St, Sacramento. Hearing directly what Mr. Li has to say, and SacRT board member’s questions and comments, will be valuable to the transit-supporting community. However, if you can’t make it or just want a preview, the presentation has been posted on the SacRT website and is also available here.

There will also be a time for public comment, and though STAR will not be making an official statement, I think many of our members and other transit supporters will.

sacrt_strategicvisionworkshop_2017-02

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